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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Belmont, NH, USA
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    23

    Default My first week of beekeeping

    Brand new to bees and the forum. Been wanting to get started for a few years and took the plunge this spring. Here's my first week's story. Looking for any and all feedback.

    1) Picked up package on Sunday. Install was very messy as syrup had coated at least half of the bees.

    2) It was pleasant on Sunday but a cold front came in that evening and put Sun, Mon, and Tue nights into the 30's. Losses from syrup coated frozen bees were heavy. Ziploc feeder bag in with 1:1.

    3) no inspections yet, but peeked in on Tue and Wed AM and observed bees clustering together. Feed syrup in bag getting lower, so bees appeared to be feeding.

    4) Wed evening arrived home to find that bees had swarmed to a nearby hemlock, close to ground. IMG_20130515_165320_665.jpg

    I peeked in hive, there were still a few bees left. Took advantage of bees being out to clean out dead bees from bottom board. Trapped swarm and lowered branch into hive. IMG_20130515_175618_835.jpg


    Very smooth process. Peeked in this AM and bees are down in frames and on baggie feeding.

    5) The weather has turned much warmer and nights will only drop to upper 40's/50's.

    Great week of highs and lows. The kids are all enjoying the process as well.

    Questions and concerns I have:

    Thoughts on why they swarmed?

    Do I have a queen? I suppose I really won't know until comb is drawn and I can inspect for eggs.

    Do I have enough surviving bees to draw comb? The swarm was about the size of a medium egglant.

    How often should I peek in the top to check the baggie? I am thinking every 3rd day.

    I am picking up a local nuc in early June, after that transfer and some additional frames are drawn would a frame or two of brood from the nuc help in the package hive?

    Thanks in advance.

    Scott

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Camas, WA
    Posts
    1,961

    Default Re: My first week of beekeeping

    Are you using foundation? Did you release the queen or let the bees do it?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Belmont, NH, USA
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: My first week of beekeeping

    Yes to both. RiteCell foundation and I released the queen via the method described by Michael Bush at http://www.bushfarms.com/beespackages.htm

    ( If you're afraid of the queen flying, then pull the cork from the non candy end (where she can get out now) and, while holding your thumb over the hole, lay the cage on the bottom and leave it. Put the frames back in and the lid on and walk away)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Camas, WA
    Posts
    1,961

    Default Re: My first week of beekeeping

    One of the advantages of letting the bees release the queen in foundation conditions is that while they are waiting for the queen to be free, they start drawing comb which is a reason for them to stay. On plastic foundation and with free queen that has already slimmed down to flying weight they are much more likely to look for a more "suitable" location. Direct release of a queen on plastic foundation is a good recipe for a missing bunch of bees.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Belmont, NH, USA
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: My first week of beekeeping

    Makes perfect sense to me now!

    Would re-queening by letting the bees release a new caged queen be advisable? Or am I just creating more confusion. I realize I am going to make a lot of mistakes on this journey. Hope is to learn from every one of them along the way.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,740

    Default Re: My first week of beekeeping

    >Thoughts on why they swarmed?

    No telling for sure. Do you have an open SBB? Bees don't like too much ventilation.

    >Do I have a queen? I suppose I really won't know until comb is drawn and I can inspect for eggs.

    Until you see eggs or her, there is no way to tell for sure.

    >Do I have enough surviving bees to draw comb? The swarm was about the size of a medium egglant.

    Yes.

    >How often should I peek in the top to check the baggie? I am thinking every 3rd day.

    Sounds ok, but since they left once, I might wait longer. There is nectar out there by now...

    >I am picking up a local nuc in early June, after that transfer and some additional frames are drawn would a frame or two of brood from the nuc help in the package hive?

    By then they may be doing much better. But a frame of open brood is always appropriate if you think they may be queenless... but by then you should know.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Belmont, NH, USA
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: My first week of beekeeping

    Many thanks for your input Michael. I do not have an SBB. Just the deep hive on top of the BB with an entrance reducer.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Belmont, NH, USA
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: My first week of beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    >Thoughts on why they swarmed?

    No telling for sure. Do you have an open SBB? Bees don't like too much ventilation.

    >Do I have a queen? I suppose I really won't know until comb is drawn and I can inspect for eggs.

    Until you see eggs or her, there is no way to tell for sure.

    I saw eggs yesterday on my first inspection. That was Day 11.

    >Do I have enough surviving bees to draw comb? The swarm was about the size of a medium egglant.

    Yes.

    They are drawing comb nicely.

    >How often should I peek in the top to check the baggie? I am thinking every 3rd day.

    Sounds ok, but since they left once, I might wait longer. There is nectar out there by now...

    >I am picking up a local nuc in early June, after that transfer and some additional frames are drawn would a frame or two of brood from the nuc help in the package hive?

    By then they may be doing much better. But a frame of open brood is always appropriate if you think they may be queenless... but by then you should know.
    They seem like a totally different hive than when I installed on the 12th

    Thanks for your help!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Saint Johnsbury, VT,USA
    Posts
    47

    Default Re: My first week of beekeeping

    I enjoyed your post. I too picked up my bees on the same Sunday. Merrimack, NH. I am guessing from the same place. It was after an annoying two week delay caused by the weather in GA. But I was excited to get them home and hived. I am up in Saint Johnsbury, VT even further north than you. Two consecutive nights of frost followed the hiving and I lost a ton of my sugar-syrup coated bees. Contrary to what I read, you most assuredly can overspray them with syrup... What a knucklehead I am but I learned my first lesson. After the frosts I thought the experiment was over then-and-there. But they rallied with the nice weather on Wednesday. I opened the hive on Saturday for the first time. Looked awesome! The queen isn't very big. But she is extremely energetic. Of course, week 2 has been nothing but rain... I am hoping to take my second look between showers tomorrow (Saturday). Glad I didn't have to deal with swarming already! That wasn't even on my radar. Can't believe that can happen so soon but you seem to have handled it nicely. Good luck.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Belmont, NH, USA
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    23

    Default Re: My first week of beekeeping

    Beerz,

    I was figuring I wasn't the only one with sugar bees from that pickup. If your bees were as syrup covered as mine and then you sprayed them as well, I know exactly the kind of mess you were dealing with. I too thought my "experiment" was over after one day.

    Hopefully you will see some good things on your first inspection.

    BTW, I did call down to Merrimack and spoke with the gentleman who procured our packages. My inquiry was regarding the syrup coated bees and the normalcy of the package to be in such condition. He assured me it wasn't the norm, but explained that when he picked up the bees in GA, that it was very warm and they were not swarmed and hanging from the top of the package as they normally are in cooler weather. His thoughts were that in transport that as syrup leaked that it leaked on top of bees that were on the bottom of the package. He also shared with me that he had pulled 40 packages that he had deemed not acceptable for pickup. So, some had it even worse I suppose getting no bees if they showed up late.

    I'll look forward to the results of your first inspection.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Decatur, GA
    Posts
    32

    Default Re: My first week of beekeeping

    Wow @nhbuckeye, very nice recovery and some quick thinking on your part - nicely done and congrats on the save!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Saint Johnsbury, VT,USA
    Posts
    47

    Default Re: My first week of beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by nhbuckeye View Post
    Beerz,

    I was figuring I wasn't the only one with sugar bees from that pickup.

    I'll look forward to the results of your first inspection.

    My second inspection, actually. Not today, though! Cold (42F right now), raining, and they are even predicting snow in the upper elevations. Hello summer! I am eager to exchange notes with you over the course of the year; particularly since we procured our bees from the same source.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Belmont, NH, USA
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: My first week of beekeeping

    Great idea to keep in close contact and compare notes. We are a balmy 47 here today. You may see some snow tonight. I am not going to treat my bees so that may be another comparison to make. Also, I am picking up a nuc in Orwell, Vt on Jun 14. I am planning on inspecting Mon, hoping to see some open brood.

    Scott

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Saint Johnsbury, VT,USA
    Posts
    47

    Default Re: My first week of beekeeping

    My son, an inexperienced driver, called for me for help last night because he a encountered heavy snowfall on the way home from his summer job. With a grumble, I got into my truck and went out to get him. I mean, c'mon, how bad could it be? I assumed he was being overly cautious... Well, I encountered what seemed like blizzard conditions. I have brand spankin' new m+s tires on my truck, was in four wheel drive, and was a state highway and I was still all over the road...

    Anyway, this isn't a weather forum... But of all things! I was hoping for a nice couple of weeks for the ladies to get outside and to get off to a great start. It is only supposed to get up to 49 today and 80% chance of rain. I am starting to climb the walls being stuck inside, too.


    In any event, it looks like I too will finally get to inspect tomorrow. I do plan to treat the bees as the circumstance dictates. So, yes, I would really like to hear how things progress for you.

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