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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    grand rapids, michigan
    Posts
    362

    Default Overall good progress I think

    Just wanted to share my experience of adding a 2nd deep and opening the entrance reducer a bit. Experienced beeks, please feel free to critique and offer advice. I have 2 hives from package installs on May 24. I live in the woods so thatís where they are. Mostly jack pines so it is not a heavy canopy. I found a spot that does get some early through midday dappled sun light but thatís as good as it gets.

    One hive is struggling a bit but starting to catch up. I have seen 2 SHB but that is all. I am expecting more especially with the soft sandy soil the hive table sits on.

    The other hive I think is doing very well. I inspected yesterday at the end of week 5 and the stronger hive was packed with bees. Frames 2-8 drawn out and the insides of 1 and 10 drawn out. And bees covering everywhere. In fact There were so many bees between every frame I only checked a couple. I thought it was a really good sign and I didnít want to roll a lot of bees and maybe the queen. So I just added the 2nd deep, removed the feeder and buttoned it up. I may put the feeder back on as they were still taking syrup.

    Then I opened the entrance from the 1finger wide opening to the 4 finger wide opening. I just flipped the reducer a quarter turn. This meant that the finger sized opening on the right that was facing down and open was now facing out effectively closing off that entrance and the 4 inch opening on the left was now open. But the bees were not getting it. They kept piling up at the little notch facing out but couldnít get anywhere. But eventually they starting walking across the front porch single file to the 4 inch opening on the left and into the hive. But returning bees continued to pile up at the old dead end location. It was comical but I started to feeling sorry for them. I knew theyíd eventually get used to new opening but I took pity. I flipped the reducer around so that the 4 inch opening was now on the right side, where the small one used to be and that made it much easier for them. They immediately started using the full width of the bigger entrance.

    Within about 10 minutes though, there were more bees flying in front of the hive then Iíve ever seen. At first I was concerned with robbing because I had just pulled the feeders but as I watched there were no fights. The bees seemed more to be orienting. And I wondered if maybe I stimulated a lot of youngsters to come out for the first time. Of course I had just added the 2nd deep and shook up their world so maybe they were just figuring out what the heck just happened. They did settle back down after a short time.

    In any event, it was very assuring and enjoyable. Iíve been concerned about the bees being in partial shade and at 5 weeks I think the one hive is doing well and the other is showing signs of catching up.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Davie, Florida, USA
    Posts
    793

    Default Re: Overall good progress I think

    Good for you frank! It was the right thing to do to switch the entrance back to where they were used to it being. They'd figure it out eventually, but as you said, you gotta have some sympathy sometimes. You didn't mention traffic jams at the entrance, but based on how you described the inside of the hive, I would say there must have been a log jam trying to get in!?? Remember...what you see on the outside with bees trying to get in, is doubled on the inside, with bees trying to get out! I am sure they are greatly appreciative of the extra entrance/exit space! With them having a full box full of bees, just curious as to why you haven't opened it further? As far as the extra bees you saw, I would say they just couldn't get out, due to the log jam. They'll be flying much happier now! Depending on your population and temps, my next step would be to cut the reducer in half with a fine saw, (save the extra piece so you can still button them up for winter) and give them half of a fully wide open entrance. You may indeed see a bunch more bees out tomorrow (weather permitting). I think 1" this time of year is wayyy too small. They are going to be loving the more open space, but remember, the 4" opening is still only 1 bee deep (not wide). Keep an eye on the entrance, and give them more space as needed. Tomorrow, at 3-5pm (or there abouts...), when you see a gentle cloud of bees flying, please don't immediately think robbing, it will most likely be orientation flights of all the new bees that haven't been able to fly. Orientation flights are fun to watch...the new ace-ettes take their little walk up the front of the hive...take off....fly a few circles, land not so gracefully at times, and repeat! They can get a pretty good sized cloud going, which they should be if you have a full deep. This orientation behavior will be repeated on a daily basis. I can set my watch by my hives. Remember...Robbing is UGLY....Orientation flights are organized and gentle (though can still freak you out and make you think 'swarm' or 'robbing' until you have seen them a few times). Enjoy your bees...it sounds like you are off to a great start, and don't be afraid to give the girls entrance/exit space.

    ps...If I saw only 2 SHB in a hive, I would be dancing the Jig and singing a Hallelujah Chorus. A strong colony will keep those suckers at bay (but I am afraid, never 'gone'). I am sure they aren't as much an issue up there, but two beetles....20 beetles...and a strong colony? NO worries! (Beetle blaster traps with mineral oil really help!) It is when a colony with stores/brood weakens that they become a major concern.

    Good luck! Sounds good so far! Enjoy your girls.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    grand rapids, michigan
    Posts
    362

    Default Re: Overall good progress I think

    Thanks for the reply B.I.M. So the main question you asked is why I kept the entrance so reduced. My primary source of learning has been “Beekeeping for Dummies” and he changes the entrance size based on a time table. But it’s clear that it needs to be based on weather and bee population. So thanks for your advice that accounted for that.

    Temps in lower Michigan have been 80’s daytime and low 60’s at night. Very nice. Looks like we have rain all day today but at first opportunity I will cut the reducers in half on both hives. I have a wood shop and make my own stuff so it will be easy to do.

    And you are right about the orientation flights. That is what they are. So the strong hive was orienting 2 days ago and yesterday afternoon, the weaker hive was doing so with smallest entrance so I think these girls are ready for the larger entrance. I stood about 8 feet from the hive for 10 minutes and just watched them and it was very cool. I assume this large cloud of orientees indicates a large emergence of same age young bees and is a sign of a growing colony. If that’s the case, I am very encouraged as I was quite concerned about this the last few weeks.

    Also, the stronger hive, with the entrance I increased 2 days ago, last night bees were coming and going much more freely and just inside, all in a row, shoulder to shoulder looking out were the guard bees. That was cool to see.

    One question, how do you determine the right amount of ventilation? My hives have a lot of flexibility with a screened bottom board with the solid sliding insert and vented Vivaldi boards on top. I think it could be easy to provide too much ventilation with this set up. Currently, The Vivaldi boards (if not familiar it is a 3 inch spacer with a 4 inch hole in the center of the bottom board and screened to keep the bees below with long window screened slots along two sides to keep ants out) sit on top of the inner cover. And I have the solid inserts of the SBB opened up ľ of the way. To really leverage the IPM benefit of the SBB I need to remove the inserts but I didn’t want to rush it and make it too cool for them. Being in Miami “too cool” probably is not a concern.

    Thanks BIM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pepperell, MA.
    Posts
    3,741

    Default Re: Overall good progress I think

    If your strong hive has plenty of brood and you want to balance out your weak hive, donate a frame of brood from your strong one. Just don't donate the queen too!
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Davie, Florida, USA
    Posts
    793

    Default Re: Overall good progress I think

    frank...Hope the prior advice helped you relax a bit. As far as determining ventilation, honestly, I let the bees take care of it. Half of my hives are solid bottoms, half are SBB...obviously I can't open the bottoms of my solid boards, and I run my SBB wide open. Ironically, I am going back to solid bottoms, and they have always been my kick butt hives. If it helps any, my mother is a beek in Massachusetts....she is running SBB, wide open, and they have been since early/mid May. Her hives are booming. Bees generate a TON of heat. It amazes me that they don't melt the comb down here, but they don't! They're happy as can bee!! As far as Beekeeping for Dummies, it's a great book...but just like a recipe, think of it as a guideline. Watch your bees, and let the bees tell you what they need. Trust me, they will, if you watch and listen. And when in doubt, ask HERE! I will just encourage you to ask first....before making some wild manipulation to your hive or whatever. Sounds like you and your bees are doing just great! Keep it up!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    grand rapids, michigan
    Posts
    362

    Default Re: Overall good progress I think

    Yes, thanks BIM. I appreciate the positive feedback. I am having a ball with this and love the learning process. The environmental variations that the bees can thrive in is amazing. But I guess that's why they've been around for millions of years.

    So I'm trying not to over think and over engineer this ventilation issue. Oooops, too late. I am an analyst by nature and training. Anyways, with a combination of a SBB (for Varrora) and a ventilated spacer on top (because of condensation under the cover I was getting from the top feeder), I want to avoid a chimney effect that could make the bees have to work too hard to maintain their environment in the hive.

    Well I guess I need to listen to the bees. Here's to learning their language.

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