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  1. #1
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    Jul 2010
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    Callaway, Missouri, USA
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    Default 1.8 Miles enough?

    Been a hard Winter for my bees. By Mid February I had only lost one hive but in the course of the next four weeks every time we had a cold snap or another snow storm I was loosing a hive to starvation despite feeding them sugar inside the hives whenever it warmed up enough to open the tops. I even had feeding stations out that the bees were hitting whenever they could fly and they still died. My hives were so depleted and never really built up after the drought and heat hit last Summer they just couldn't take a late arriving Spring this year.

    Anyway a fellow down the road asked me if I would remove an old hive from his property that had been there for at least 10 years he said and the bees were getting mean. I don't know if it is the same colony continuous for the 10 years but what I found were three medium supers with no bottom board and a cracked rotting single board on top sitting directly on a concrete slab. The upper most super had been pushed off about half an inch allowing rain and snow in but was the only entrance the bees had. It was a mess and I was surprised the sagging and rotting supers were still holding together. Since we got into the 70's today I rigged up a bottom board and transferred the top super to it then put the other three on top of that hoping to not break up whatever brood arrangement these bees have going on. I then put a top entrance on so the returning foragers wouldn't be too confused and all on top of a pallet arrangement that I can now pick up with help easily. The hive is light, I easily picked up the three mediums and they didn't weigh much so they have little stores that's for sure.

    Here's my problem. If I didn't do any unknown harm by moving the supers like crushing the queen or letting too much heat out or breaking up the brood or something will moving this hive 1.8 miles cause the foragers to go back to the original spot or do you think it would be fine when I move them to just place something in front of the hive to make them reorient?

    Also if anyone has any advice for how to clean this hive up and most importantly when I should start. It is still getting chilly here (Mid Missouri) and I am afraid that none of the bee survivors have much room for ham-handed treatment or setting them back by going into the hives right now. Should I move them and leave em be for a few weeks until I know they are bringing in stores once again? As I watched them going into the new set up they were bringing in alot of pollen so they must have brood going or plan on it anyway but this hive is going to need hours of burr comb cleaning and new frames because as it is now all it is, is one big bur comb all together.


    Any help or advice would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    Default Re: 1.8 Miles enough?

    Connor, I feel for you with the loss. I have use the heat pad with good results with only less than half frame of worker bees left inside my hive this winter and without a queen too. But they all made it with a new queen I bought in the middle of winter of last year. Now I split them 4 hives more. So far one queen got mated and laying egg I saw her this afternoon.
    On with your questions. If you are in good term with the fellow down the road, ask him
    if it is o.k. to keep them there for a few weeks until it gets warmer for them to forage better. If he not agree then you have to move them otherwise he would dispose them off. Either way you still have to move them later on. The distance is not a concerning factor because the bees can reorient themselves at their new location. Be sure to place a new hive in the current location to catch the drifters so you can come back the next day to take them as well. Make sure to put something in the front entrance so they know something is different when going out at their new location.
    My concern is how to move them since they don't have a bottom board. If they not sticking to the concrete slab, then you can carefully place the hive box onto a new bottom board on the pallet. Give them a new entrance at the top with a new top cover.
    There are 2 ways to clean up the bur combs. You can cut and put them inside a frame with rubber bands. Or you can put foundation comb frames in a new box at the bottom. Hopefully the queen and all the workers will move down to lay. The better way is half cut out the burr combs and half comb frames inside a new hive box if you can transfer them. Only take the combs with the stores, broods, eggs, and larvae as many as you can fit.
    If you wait until they bring in more nectar then it is a bit late because now you have to deal with sticky stuffs also.
    If the forecast is warm for the next few days then this is your chance. Also don't forget to feed, feed and feed.

  3. #3
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    Jul 2010
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    Callaway, Missouri, USA
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    Default Re: 1.8 Miles enough?

    I have already placed them on the new bottom board. I rigged it like a stretcher between a couple of 2x4's with cross support and handles so I can just pick the whole thing right up with my son. I put the top super of the mess on the new bottom board and then placed the remaining three on top of that one and a top entrance on top of that with a cover. The returning foragers really didn't seem to get confused and went right in even though I had changed the actual placement by about a foot or so. I might be able to leave the hive there for a few more weeks but it is suppose to be cold the next few days so I thought that might be a good time to move them while I know they will be balled up at night. They will get the same exact forage here as there as the henbit and dead nettle are blooming now at last. The field they are in is a huge plain with new wheat shoots so they need to travel a good 1/4 to 1/2 mile for any forage right now. Feeding them at the current location might be a problem although I could put dry sugar and some syrup in a top super I guess.

    Thanks for your reply!!!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: 1.8 Miles enough?

    The top super might create more empty space than what they have now. With the cold weather still I think they
    should be keep tight in lesser space if possible. I once put manila thin papers inside the empty super so they not
    get too cold inside. Leaving too much space is not good when they should be warm and cozy at this time of days. If
    they not warm and still in a cluster then they will not use the syrup. Don't forget the patty too for extra protein to raise some broods from. This will give them an early start as well. I think the location is too far off from the forages. They should be closer
    to the food source if possible. But that is the best you can do so beee it.

  5. #5
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    Dec 2012
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    Default Re: 1.8 Miles enough?

    The top super might create more empty space than what they have now. With the cold weather still I think they
    should be keep tight in lesser space if possible. I once put manila thin papers inside the empty super so they not
    get too cold inside. Leaving too much space is not good when they should be warm and cozy at this time of days. If
    they not warm and still in a cluster then they will not use the syrup. Don't forget the patty too for extra protein to raise some broods from. This will give them an early start as well. I think the location is too far off from the forages. They should be closer
    to the food source if possible. But that is the best you can do so beee it.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    Laurens, SC, USA
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    25

    Default Re: 1.8 Miles enough?

    If they will have the same forage at your place as they do right now, I would go ahead and move them. Wait until evening when all foragers have returned and seal up the entrances. Load it on the truck and maybe throw a blanket or two over the top to cut down breezes from the drive if you are concerned. I think once they realize they are in a new spot the next day, they will reorient fine. And then they are closer for feeding purposes. As for cleaning up the bur comb, you could wait for warmer days and then start shifting them to new boxes if the old ones are so rotted out.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    Utica, NY
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    Default Re: 1.8 Miles enough?

    Quote Originally Posted by Connor View Post
    I rigged up a bottom board and transferred the top super to it then put the other three on top of that hoping to not break up whatever brood arrangement these bees have going on.
    I am confused whether you have 3 mediums or 4 on this hive. The hive is light, is the population light? At least one of the boxes should have been empty. I would have gotten rid of that box or any other box that was empty and moved them. In their new location I would have put a new box of drawn comb with two or three frames of honey in the center. Coaxing the brood nest to move up and removing the old boxes below as they emptied. If you can get the queen to move up into the new boxes you can slap on a QE below to prevent her from using the bottom boxes.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Callaway, Missouri, USA
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    Default Re: 1.8 Miles enough?

    Acebird, As the hive sat it had one full sized super directly on the concrete with three mediums above that. The top most medium had been slid over making the entrance in a corner about half an inch or so wide by maybe 6 inches or so long. I see I forgot to mention the full sized super earlier.

    It was warm enough for the girls to fly Sunday but not warm enough Saturday really and not today either. I needed to get them onto something so I can move them so I placed the top medium directly on the new bottom board and then just picked up the full sized and two mediums as one unit and put that all on top of the original top most medium. This was more than likely a mistake now that I think about it but hind sight and all and I had to scrape so much burr comb to get them together I was afraid of heat loss. The two mediums and full sized super together was not heavy at all so I know they are light. As far as bees go the top and second from top mediums were full of bees but one big combed together mess. I didn't look at any of the supers below the second one. I put an inner cover on the whole mess and then placed another medium with an entrance hole on top of that so returning foragers would have an entrance close to what they were use to besides the new bottom entrance. Then another inner cover and the telly top.

    My plan right now is to go ahead and move the hive I guess tomorrow evening. They are in the middle of a field more or less totally exposed to the wind and the field is planted in Spring wheat so they are not going to get much forage there. The henbit and dead nettle are blooming right now finally and I know the bees work this some before the flowering trees get going. If I move them they will have plenty of that to forage on and I can feed them. I just hope my splitting up the supers as I did didn't hurt them too much. It is not going to be all that warm here again until the weekend from the forecast I am seeing, even down into the upper 20's at night once again. Whatever happens I know I am not going to be able to open that hive up and look very closely for at least a week or more. It just isn't warm enough yet for the kind of time it would take.

  9. #9
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    Jul 2010
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    Callaway, Missouri, USA
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    Default Re: 1.8 Miles enough?

    Also Acebird when you say one of the boxes should have been empty what do you mean? The only thing I have to give this hive right now is a candy board, dry sugar or syrup there is nothing left of honey anywhere. I have fed any and all stores I had available this Winter just to keep a third of my hives alive till now. I have a good supply of frames with empty comb or dead brood/bees nose down into the cells and that's about it right now. The drought did a real number on my hives last Summer, even with constant feeding they refused to build up. I combined the really small hives and gave them everything I had. The sad part is if we had gotten Spring at the usual time we have been getting it the last few years most would have survived. March turned into a constant death count however so ya I am a bit nervous over placing any stress on what remains. We didn't even start getting early blooms until this weekend almost a month later than usual, or as I said usual for the past several years.

    Thank you for your reply and advice!!!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: 1.8 Miles enough?

    #1 you never have to worry about bees finding an entrance. If there is an entrance they will find it.

    I am thinking there can't be a lot of bees in this hive so some boxes will just be empty comb, meaning no brood or honey. If you broke some boxes apart you should be able to look from the top and bottom to see if there is any brood in it. If there is no brood and it is light take it out. This has to be done on a warm day. If you put the box on top of the hive you might be able to smoke the queen down if she is in there but I don't think she will be if it is empty of brood and honey. Just setting the box off to the side will get rid of a lot of bees if there is not brood or honey in it. The only thing you have to worry about is that queen. Maybe you can get the outside frame out so you have room to free the others. When the hive is light and short on bees is the best chance to pull empty boxes out that are a real mess.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    Default Re: 1.8 Miles enough?

    How come you leave out the patty patch? Patty will keep them alive and in broods raising mode until
    the real stuff come along. Pollen patty really saved my dwindling hive with less than half frame of
    bees left in last winter. I make my own patty when nothing feeds them. At least something is
    better than nothing, eh.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  12. #12
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    Jul 2004
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    Sullivan, MO
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    Default Re: 1.8 Miles enough?

    Quote Originally Posted by Connor View Post
    Also Acebird when you say one of the boxes should have been empty what do you mean? The only thing I have to give this hive right now is a candy board, dry sugar or syrup there is nothing left of honey anywhere. I have fed any and all stores I had available this Winter just to keep a third of my hives alive till now. I have a good supply of frames with empty comb or dead brood/bees nose down into the cells and that's about it right now. The drought did a real number on my hives last Summer, even with constant feeding they refused to build up. I combined the really small hives and gave them everything I had. The sad part is if we had gotten Spring at the usual time we have been getting it the last few years most would have survived. March turned into a constant death count however so ya I am a bit nervous over placing any stress on what remains. We didn't even start getting early blooms until this weekend almost a month later than usual, or as I said usual for the past several years.

    Thank you for your reply and advice!!!
    I don't want to speak for Acebird, but I think what he was saying is that if the overall arrangement of the 4 hivebodys was really light, then some of those boxes shouldn't have had bees,brood,honey, or pollen in them and you could have taken them off right now. This would have been a good thing, giving them less area to defend and less area to temperature control. As to your original question I don't think it's a problem moving them 1.8 miles as opposed to the 2 or 3 miles everyone speaks of. You can always put something (a cedar branch) up against the entrance and this will help them know they need to reorient themselves at the new location. Good luck and this sounds like a good find. If I was you I would keep these bees and the queen even if they are a little hot. Not boiling out of the entrance and chasing a mile down the road hot, but if they are just a little grouchy, you can always make a split with the current queen (your back up plan) and let the hive raise a new queen and hopefully it will tone them down a little.

  13. #13
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    Jul 2010
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    Callaway, Missouri, USA
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    Default Re: 1.8 Miles enough?

    Acebird and rweaklet I see your point. Yes I am pretty sure now that I think about it that the bottom two boxes were empty. They sure felt light and now I am worried that what I have done is split the two boxes that contained brood up from bottom to top leaving two empty boxes between them. I was just too worried about leaving them open. I could see the bees down between the frames but couldn't tell if there was any brood present and did not actually pull a frame. I started to try and the frame started coming apart so I just gave up thinking it would take too much time. I really need the bees and that queen. I did notice that the burr comb I removed had plenty of pollen cells and honey in it but no eggs or new larva that would indicate at least drone laying in the burr comb. When I checked them this afternoon I could hear them inside the hive but there was no flying today it was just too cold and windy.

    beepro - I have never fed pollen patties at all. I have some pollen traps that I used to make my own patties a couple of years ago but to tell you the truth my hives have always been pollen rich. All my remaining hives are bringing in pollen left and right it's nectar resources they are short on right now. I have plenty of drawn frames filled with stored pollen I can put in with them once I can open them up again and get them into serviceable boxes.

  14. #14
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    Jul 2010
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    Callaway, Missouri, USA
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    Default Re: 1.8 Miles enough?

    Oh and rweakley when I had the hive apart yesterday I didn't smoke em or wear gloves and not a bee head butted my hood screen or landed on me. They didn't even seem to care I was around and were very gentle and easy to work with. So for the moment I wouldn't call it an aggressive hive but who knows how long and how many queens they have went through or even died out and got new swarms these boxes have gone through.

  15. #15
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    Jul 2010
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    Columbia, Missouri, usa
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    Default Re: 1.8 Miles enough?

    I live just north of Columbia and you are right about the drought last summer being hard on our bees. I put about 15 pounds of sugar on each hive last fall; then had to add a little more to three hives - two weeks ago.
    My bees are bringing in pollen from the dead nettle and greenish pollen from either maples or rag weed. I do not think they are finding any nector yet. I had our first daffodil bloom today and fruit trees will not bloom for several days .

    I think it is warm enough to put on sugar water over an inner cover or top feeder - inside an empty super and top cover.
    Also, go advice above about leaving an empty box and cover at the old site. You will recover a lot of the field workers by doing this.
    Charlie

  16. #16
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    Jul 2004
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    Sullivan, MO
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    Default Re: 1.8 Miles enough?

    Yes last summer and fall was H#ll for bees here in Misery.
    I only mentioned the bees being hot because one of your posts mentioned that the guy wanted them removed becasue they were aggressive.

    I went to go look at a lady's bees that she bought from me 3 years ago on sat (she's about 9 miles from me, so same drought conditions) and they made me feel like a terrible beekeeper. Of course the difference is my bees were stressed from the get go last year with me making 9 nucs from probably most of the resources coming from 2 hives and then I harvested 40 lbs of honey from them. Her bees had an entire deep full of honey plus what ever was in the bottom deep going into winter. I popped the top off of her hive and I expected there to be a pretty good bunch of bees in there, instead it was 110% full of bees, I cracked the boxes apart to look at the bottom box (expecting it to be empty) and it was 80-90% full of bees. OHHH so that's what a beehive looks like that hasn't been abused and has plenty of honey to overwinter on. We'll be splitting it on friday.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: 1.8 Miles enough?

    Cdevier I was putting feed inside the hives every time it warmed up enough to pop the covers and setting out open feeders of syrup whenever I thought the girls could get out and I still lost 2/3rds of my hives. About July or August last year all of my hives just stopped everything, they wouldn't even take syrup from feeders and just let it go bad. They stopped laying brood or building up they just flew around was about all I saw. I lost every swarm or split I made last year this Winter and my oldest hive as well. The cold snaps just lasted too long for me to do anything about them. It's going to take me a long time to build back up since I usually only make splits or catch swarms that's why this little survivor hive is so important to me right now and I try and only use local bees and not import any. The drought followed by a long snowy Winter was just too much of a double punch.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: 1.8 Miles enough?

    Connor, I heard from the weather station's prediction for this year also there will be a drought by this summer in the central region from Texas all the way up. But how far it will spread is unknown now. There are already thief stealing 7 roll of hays from the hay farmer in Texas I heard on the news. He got caught on security camera. Guess this is in anticipation of the drought later on this summer.
    In this situation, what can a beekeeper do to help their bees? I'm not sure if buying extra sugar or planting for your hives is the best
    solutions here. Drought or not I am planting for my bees anyways. I already have the borage blooming but my bees will not touch them yet.
    There are other forager plants out there that they are bringing in nectar and pollen. But still I will plant for them just in case. I know this
    summer will be hot over here as well. So far this is a very good spring for raising queen bees. A mild spring with lots of good showers now.
    My hives are ready to raise another batch of queens. But I am running out of space for them. Today they still raise more queen cells with 3 frame of eggs and larvae going now.

  19. #19
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    Jul 2010
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    Callaway, Missouri, USA
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    Default Re: 1.8 Miles enough?

    beepro I planted about 50 acres of buckwheat last year around the areas where I keep my bees to no avail as it all dried up before blooming. The Goldenrod and Aster flow sorta happened in the Fall but the girls were still in dearth mode and did not have the numbers to take advantage of it. The only thing that saved them somewhat was the Honey Locust and the White Clover as the Dutch Clover and Dandelions all died early as well. Even the Sunflower varieties were scarce by Mid-Summer. I said I lost all my new swarms and splits from last year but really I did keep one. One swarm I boxed up was so aggressive to other hives I had to move it off by itself because it robbed all it's neighbors mercilessly so far that one hive appears to be doing well but if we have a bad year this time there won't be any other bees around for them to rob.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: 1.8 Miles enough?

    This hive operate on the reality principle of survival of the fittest. They have no choice in that situation in order to survive. The other hives not
    robbing all died off. This is nature's way. In that environment they really have not much options.
    Since you live in a drought area, Spring time is the best time to plant some drought resistant plants for your bees. Accordingly, the weather man is very accurate in their prediction based on the previous records they have according to regions. Planting with drought resistant plants will help your bees to get thru this dearth. There are drought plants that the bees likes too all year long. You can only manage what you can manage within your control. Put hives in area that you think will have the most chance of survival for them. But don't put all in one basket just in case that area not doing well. Closer to home you can plant many bee plants for a few good hives for survival stocks in case others out there cannot make it.
    You mention not to import bees. But having a diversify genetics might be your answer here. At least get some good queens to head your hives. Not all bees are created equal this is my experience so far. The carni did not make it but the Italians did according to my region. The carni came from east coast area while the Italian is local queen. Because it is location specific you have to find the right type of bees in your area. The previous post mention about splitting this lady's hive full of bees. He is not far from you only 2 hours away. Perhaps you can get some good genetics from her bees. What did this lady done right to help her bees over the drought of last year? Did she micro manage it so well by planting lots of good stuffs for them? I'd bet she is a gardener as well.
    I am still new to beekeeping as this is my 9th months into it. I found out that if I cannot macro manage them then I will do it small. It does not matter how many hives I have but the will to take good care of them with a plan is the way to go. I anticipate a dry and hot summer here are well. We're into the 100s everyday in the summer time. Spring is the best time to build them up with a good queen. At the same time I do succession planting for them. I just snap some pics for you to see at micro management. I currently have 5 hives from one hive
    split with a laying machine Italian queen bee.
    They are on the borage now that I concern they might not find it. But they just did today. At backyard it is easy for me to densely manage the plants for my bees. In a small plot I can plant a lot already for them. This will give you an idea when take care of them well. It is a jungle out there my neighboring friends said.
    If I cannot have many hives then I will start small first. Micro manage them well and when they are ready I will put them in the farm out there. With a good queen I can make many splits in a season. The pics below is a second generation daughter queen that got mated last week and laying now from the original egg laying machine queen. Get good local genetic stocks, micro manage them, grow drought resistant plants for them, and watch them grow. In time you will grow back to normal again.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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