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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Hawaii
    Posts
    12

    Default Golden Mean Full?

    Hello Everybody!
    I live in Hawaii. I bought a Golden Mean from Backyard Hives last summer. It's been doing great so far. Maybe a little too great. The girls are hanging out on the entrance side of the hive day and night. They actually are bearding at night. I've taken 5 bars of capped honey since last June. Am I going to see a swarm here in the near future. I'm new to this beekeeping stuff but enjoy it a lot. On my visits the hive seems crowded. Is there anything I should do? Also, how do you post pics?? Not really user friendly here..Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Lucasville, OH, USA
    Posts
    118

    Default Re: Golden Mean Full?

    Hi, Lasergyro!

    No experience here yet, getting our first package of bees for our first top bar hive from Beethinking.com next Friday. But based on all the reading, watching videos, and class I'm in it sounds like your hive does not have enough ventilation for the bees to be able to cool it enough. It's my understanding that bearding is caused by too-high temperatures inside the hive. What are the temperatures during the day and night in your location?

    If they are getting ready to swarm there will be other indications, such as "swarm cells." You should see queen cells, and a larger percentage of drone cells if I recall correctly. You should also make sure that your brood area is not "honey bound", that there are empty bars available for them to build additional brood comb in the brood nest area.

    If I'm way off base I'm sure that others will chime in here and let us know, but do some research on hive ventilation and swarming for more information.

    Cheers,
    Tom

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Lakeland, FL USA
    Posts
    803

    Default Re: Golden Mean Full?

    .

    You could do some splits. Do you have another hive or small top bar nuc handy?

    From Michael Bush's site:

    How to do Splits

    Here's an excellent video of Sam Comfort doing splits with his top bar hives up in New York State. He has plenty of queens handy, but they can be done just as well (but not as quickly) with brood/eggs and queen cells.

    VIDEO: 18 minute video tour of two apiaries in the Hudson Valley



    Also, here's a thread from these forums regarding doing splits on a top bar:

    Splitting a Top-bar hive

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Hawaii
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: Golden Mean Full?

    Thanks for the reply Tom!
    Yeah, I thought about the ventilation because of my tropical location and so far I have drilled 3 two inch holes in the back wall of the hive and installed two inch soffits which hopefully will supply a little more air thru the hive. The temps here run in the 70's most of the time and I am up at the 1000 foot elevation so I hope the soffits will help. The Golden Mean Hive has a solid bottom and I kind of wish it had a screen bottom for ventilation purposes. I have seen some drone cells but I haven't seen any queen cells yet. Anyway, thanks again Tom for your input.
    Aloha!
    Jim

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Spicewood, Texas, USA
    Posts
    232

    Default Re: Golden Mean Full?

    I bought the smaller hive design from Backyard Hives. What bothers me about it is the only ventilation the girls get is through the entrance. I tried to drill holes in the hive but barely made a dent.

    I also have a BeeThinking hive, which already has ventilation holes. I wish I'd just gone ahead and gotten another BeeThinking. I LOVE that hive, and the colony in it is super strong.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
    Posts
    1,310

    Default Re: Golden Mean Full?

    1: Contrary to popular belief, the bees 99% of the time ONLY need ventilation through the entrance, PROVIDED that we, the beekeepers, haven't done anything to them (like setting a black-painted hive out in full sun in a tropical/desert location) that makes it notably harder to keep cool than in their natural habitat (hollow logs & bole-holes in trees). Bees need to keep the inside of the hive at a fairly constant temperature (slightly over 90F, if memory serves) in order for the brood to be able to develop properly; they have to use body-heat (i.e. burn extra calories & eat extra honey) to warm the hive if something (like a screened bottom board, or excessive ventilation) lowers this temperature, and they use evaporative cooling (effective evap. cooling depends HIGHLY on being able to *control* the airflow thru the hive) when the internal hive temp gets too high. If you're worried that your bees are getting too hot (or too cold), a better first approach to "helping them out" would be to consider insulation & "heat-shielding" methods, such as painting the top of the lid with aluminized roofing paint (the super-reflective stuff that keeps the sun from cooking stuff underneath), painting the outside of the hive box(es) a light, reflective color (many use white), or adding an insulating air-gap around the bottom, sides, and or top of the hive (just have to make sure the extra space is sealed-up well, or you could end up with comb in some inconvenient places...or be giving the Small Hive Beetles a nice little hotel).

    2: Referring to the original post, if you're having a good bit of bearding day & night, AND the inside of the hive seems to be "packed full of bees," your bees are out of space, plain & simple, the hive they're in is too small for your bees. Time to do some splits, or look into using some more appropriately sized equipment. My recommendation here: build longer boxes; new beekeepers are *constantly* in these forums complaining about swarming and overcrowding in Golden Mean hives, my guess is that they are simply WAY too small to be productive hives in many situations; thankfully, this is as easy to fix as making the hive box longer, so it fits more bars. With my TBH design (19" bar length), I've found 2' to be about the minimum box length for keeping a hive healthy, and longer boxes necessary if I want to harvest much honey from them (right now I'm working on converting everyone into 4' long boxes).

    Hope some of that helped, without being too wordy to read through
    Last edited by robherc; 04-16-2013 at 04:47 PM. Reason: spelling

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Spicewood, Texas, USA
    Posts
    232

    Default Re: Golden Mean Full?

    Excellent advice, especially since you're from Texas and get pretty much the same temps, I imagine. The hives get morning sun, then dappled or complete shade in the afternoons. I did go up a little while ago to the Garden Hive and take the sticks out of the entrance. It is a brand-new hive as of Saturday, so I had temporarily reduced the entrance by 75% when I installed the girls.

    Re: one of my other TBHs, yesterday they bearded for the first time since I've had them. I took out the false back, giving them the rest of the hive. (Probably about 6 or 7 bars were empty) Looks like they will have the entire TBH filled with comb in a few weeks. This is after only one year.

    Thank you for what sounds like good advice, Robherc.

    You write very well, by the way.

    Sondra

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,495

    Default Re: Golden Mean Full?

    I don't want to sound like a broken record, but it seems about half the people than mention a Golden Mean hive a talking about how they swarm. They look nice, but I think they must be too small.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Lakeland, FL USA
    Posts
    803

    Default Re: Golden Mean Full?

    .
    So what's the huge downside to a swarming hive, unless you are a big honey producer/pollinator?

    It only helps build the feral bee population.

    Isn't that a good thing?

    And besides, I'd love to have the chance to witness such a miracle.

    Also, in this time of hearing about MAJOR losses from ccd over this past winter, hearing about overcrowded, swarming hives is a blessing.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Garland, Bladen County, NC, USA
    Posts
    2,996

    Default Re: Golden Mean Full?

    Quote Originally Posted by PatBeek View Post
    .


    It only helps build the feral bee population.

    Isn't that a good thing?

    And besides, I'd love to have the chance to witness such a miracle.
    When your hive is hanging in a tree, does that make it a feral hive?

    Not sure there are any feral hives....
    “Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have travelled.” - The Quran

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,495

    Default Re: Golden Mean Full?

    Nothing is wrong with swarming if you want to create potential pests for your neighbors! I live in a residential neighborhood (are not all neighborhoods residential?) Anyway, I don't think my neighbors would apprieciate the site of a swarm in their yard as much as I would.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Lakeland, FL USA
    Posts
    803

    Default Re: Golden Mean Full?

    Quote Originally Posted by shannonswyatt View Post
    Nothing is wrong with swarming if you want to create potential pests for your neighbors! I live in a residential neighborhood (are not all neighborhoods residential?) Anyway, I don't think my neighbors would apprieciate the site of a swarm in their yard as much as I would.
    Go snatch the swarm and start another hive. or do a split.

    And why would neighbors think a swarm is any big deal? People need to get away from their tvs and enjoy life for a change.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,495

    Default Re: Golden Mean Full?

    Great in theory, unfortunately I'm away from home more hours than I'm here, so there is a better chance of me not being here to try to chase it down.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
    Posts
    1,310

    Default Re: Golden Mean Full?

    Considering the number of calls I get throughout the course of a spring & summer by locals who want bees removed from their walls, under their bathtubs, their soffits, their birdhouse, etc...I'd say letting your hives swarm in a populated area is pretty irresponsible, and bad manners, at best. Considering that a residential Bee removal (or extermination) can end up costing a homeowner, or business, up to, or over, $1000, PLUS property damage from having to cut into their structure to remove an established hive, I think you'd become VERY unpopular FAST if people suspected you to be the cause of their having a swarm move into the wall of their back porch while they were out of town

    Now, for those of us who are fortunate enough to have nice, rural areas, with much lower human population densities, for our apiaries, then throwing swarms *can* actually be beneficial for re-establishing "feral" (or, should we just call them liberated) colonies, helping to establish more genetic influence from desirable lines in a queen rearing apiary, etc. So, really, "let them swarm" or "do whatever you can to STOP them from swarming" all depends on your location & situation...either way, the GM hive seems to be too small for harvesting much honey off of, or for swarm prevention, in most settings (from the reports I've heard from other beeks, and/or seen in these forums)

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Hawaii
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: Golden Mean Full?

    Thanks for your input Rob. I probably should split the hive.....I just don't have another top bar sitting around and splitting to a Lang would really be a pain.
    Aloha,
    Jim
    ps
    Oh Rob, what would you think about a screen bottom for the Golden Mean?

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
    Posts
    1,310

    Default Re: Golden Mean Full?

    99 times out of 100, I'll vote "NO" on SBBs...the only time I'd really consider one to be more asset than liability is if you're installing it above a solid bottom, or solid tray, to catch SHB and varroa in. ... of course, that's my opinion, and I know there are plentyy of beeks (probably some commercial guys, even) who'll entirely disagree.

    Also, if you're interested in a BYOH (Build-Your-Own-Hive) project, I'm working on publishing designs for my latest generation, fully Lang compatible, hybrid TBH bars, hive bodies, and Bee Vacs (with nucs and Lang/TBH switchover boxes coming soon) at http://www.robherc.com/bees/Projects/MarkIII/index.html
    The plans are free for anyone to use/modify at will, and feel free to PM me if you want more info on them/have suggestions for improvements. Or, you can make a longer Golden Mean hive, so that you don't have TBH boxes with different sized top bars in your apiary.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,495

    Default Re: Golden Mean Full?

    Rob, I checked out the site. Nice job on the bars. I may try to make some like that.

    I noticed you are using plywood on your hive body. Are you using some special plywood? Wondering how the life of the wood is.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
    Posts
    1,310

    Default Re: Golden Mean Full?

    The plywood is "11/32 category BC sanded" from Lowes. I don't have any boxes that are over 3yrs old yet, but I do have a couple of boxes that are about 2 months shy of the 3 year mark, so far they've held up beautifully (those two were painted on the outside, but I have 5 2yr old boxes that are unpainted & in good condition too). I would NOT, however, recommend using ply for the lids...I've tried it & even when painted, it's nearly impossible to keep it from warping & ruining the bee space above the bars
    My most recent lids have been made from 3/4" thickness slats that I cut from 2x4 stock, then ran over the router table to make "tongue in groove" joints...joined 'em together like hardwood flooring...works well, but requires a lot of finish sanding, and quite a bit of effort. (so I'm still considering other options there)

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,495

    Default Re: Golden Mean Full?

    OK, so you are running your top like the top of a Lang with bee space about the bars. I was thinking you put something over top of the bars (no bee space) and then used an outer cover to close it up.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
    Posts
    1,310

    Default Re: Golden Mean Full?

    yes, bee space up top, and a 3-4" wide, by 3/8" high top entrance notched into the top of the front wall...bees enter that notch, right up against the underside of the lid. It serves 2 purposes for me:
    1) It allows the bees to fan out the very hottest of the hot air from the hive simply by fanning it over the top bars & out the entrance
    2) It allows the bees to enter the hive over the bars, crawl directly to whichever bar they're heading for, then climb down on that comb directly, without interfering with other bees working on other tasks down inside, where the combs all are.

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