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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Pinsonfork, Kentucky, USA
    Posts
    8

    Default Wanna-be Beekeeper

    IMGP3632.jpg
    Greetings from Eastern Kentucky. I'm suddenly a wanna-be beekeeper that finds herself in an unusual situation. I've just moved on to a piece of land with an active hive - but next to no information. From what I can gather, the hive has been established for 2 years with a colony of bees that were collected from a hollow tree in the area. I have attached a picture that appears to show a cinder-block foundation, bottom board, lower deep chamber, shallow honey super and outer cover. There are a couple of hundred healthy-looking bees near the entrance. Now what? I've read every line of Beekeeping for Dummies, and loved it, but gray areas are tripping me up because I'm not starting this hive from scratch. I know I need to get a look inside, so I have a basic toolkit on the way, but what additional equipment should I purchase? I think the bees need an upper deep (food chamber) too? Right? If so, would I place it between the lower deep and shallow super (like illustrations) or would I set it on top in this case? Some locals are telling me that I'll find honey in the shallow super on top, and that I should go ahead and harvest. But, what will the bees eat during the winter since there's been no upper deep food chamber? Would they have time to make more? When I get in there, and while I have the chance, should I place other seemingly missing components such as a hive stand, slatted rack and queen excluder? I guess they will need a feeder for autumn? I'll stop now because the questions keep flooding. Bottom line - how to you get started when you're already started? I'd sure appreciate the help, Christy Browning

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    6,724

    Default Re: Wanna-be Beekeeper

    Welcome to Beesource!

    The most basic things you need are a smoker, veil, hive tool and some supers (hive bodies). Then you can open the top and see what's there. I personally would not plan to harvest this summer, if the bees don't need that honey over the winter you can always take it in the spring.

    If it was me, the additional boxes I would buy would be mediums, not shallows, but others may have a different opinion.

    Lots more info for a newbee at Michael Bush's site:
    http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Belpre,Ohio, USA
    Posts
    1,369

    Default Re: Wanna-be Beekeeper

    I agree with Graham, definitely leave the super on the hive and the bees should be ok for this coming winter. Next spring you will have a flow of nectar coming in and this is the time to get new boxes with foundation drawn out. Also staying with shallows and mediums as Graham suggested would be best for easier lifting when full of honey and you can build these components during the winter months.
    Bill...in Southeast Ohio Zone 6A

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    3,058

    Default Re: Wanna-be Beekeeper

    Oh man, that thing is gonna be a mess I bet.... Looks good from the outside, but I bet it's packed with burr comb and gonna be very hard to pull frames. Bring an extra deep with you to place frames in as you clean them up etc.... Make sure you have 10 new frames as well. It will be intimidating and the bees might be angry so be careful, just stay calm and maybe get some help if you can find someone with experience to give you some pointers. The hardest part is getting the first frame out usually w/o smashing bees, but once you do, put it in the box you brought to keep it out of the way and the bees will generally stay on it. Another thing to try, might be just to put a new box on top to give them more room and come back in a week to check the whole hive out. The bees will be more spread out if they start working the new box and easier to inspect.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Genola, Ut
    Posts
    56

    Default Re: Wanna-be Beekeeper

    Take some time to do some reading and prepare for next year. If you want honey this year buy another super(medium, shallow, deep) fill it with frames of foundation and throw it on top of the hive. Harvest the end of fall. I would wait until spring to clean up the hive it will be a mess. Just let them be and they will overwinter better.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Robeson Co, North Carolina, USA
    Posts
    150

    Default Re: Wanna-be Beekeeper

    Starting with an established colony is a good problem to have. What you don't need is a hive stand, slatted rack(unless you just want one) or a queen excluder(ditto). You have a hive stand that seems to be working perfectly well and slatted racks and queen excluders are used by lots of folks but are really not necessary. I would at least put a medium super on top or in between. Putting it in between might make them want to draw some comb out to bridge the gap inside. If you don't want to disturb them that much you can put it on top and see what happens. I don't think two years will be that big of a mess inside provided the frames are there and they are spaced right. Shouldn't need a feeder unless you are going to take honey off but wouldn't hurt to have one just in case it gets light. Next spring have at least another complete hive ready to go. You'll always need more space.
    Fines are taxes for doing wrong. Taxes are fines for doing right.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,757

    Default Re: Wanna-be Beekeeper

    I would purchase medium frames with plastic foundation and medium supers first and foremost. Leave the honey for them this season. After you get your "tools" take a peak (and take pics) so we may be able to assist. I'm betting that hive swarmed at least two times so far this season. There is not ample space for them for a full hive (60k). Typical brood chambers are 2 deeps high or three mediums high.
    From the looks of things you have one deep and a honey super.
    Get in touch with a local bee club. They will bee able to help you out for sure and probably right away!
    Welcome BTW.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Pinsonfork, Kentucky, USA
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Wanna-be Beekeeper

    My day finally arrived! With new equipment in hand, and plenty of good advice from each of you in my head, I opened the hive. First up, there was no inner cover and there were SO many bees boiling and dripping from everything. I took a deep breath and just went for it frame by frame. The brood comb looked good - I could see eggs and multi-sized larva. The capped brood looked nice as well - not sunken or perforated. My big problem was that none of the frames contained any sort of foundation. The bees had free styled the entire hive. The frames were so tough to maneuver, and though I tried my best to be super careful, an entire sheet of brood comb flopped out and hit the ground. My heart sank. I didn't know what to do and couldn't think of any way to reattach the comb to the frame. I gently swept the bees from the comb at the hive entrance and moved on. I pray the queen was not on that frame - I was never able to identify her. The rest of the inspection/repair was uneventful. I placed a new deep of 10 frames with wired beeswax foundation above the original and replaced the shallow super on top. It was nearly filled with lovely capped honey - 8 of 10 frames. I also added a hive top feeder with hopes to help the bees build comb in the empty middle body before winter. I'll now be able to medicate in autumn too. By the way, I did not notice any signs/symptoms of disease during the inspection. The hive interior was clean and the bees were robust. Thanks again to each of you for the info and advice. I hope you'll help me out again. Specifically, what should I have done when the brood comb fell out and what should I do with it now? It spent last evening on the kitchen counter beneath my magnifying glass and camera. I have studied it thoroughly. I was even able to witness a few baby bees emerge from their cells. I took them to the hive. Will the rest of the capped cells hatch? I thought of placing it on the ground in front of the hive, but I was afraid of a robbing situation as the comb contains pollen and nectar as well. Also, how and when does one go about replacing that tangled brood chamber with new frames and foundation? Eager to learn, Christy
    IMGP3646.jpg

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,757

    Default Re: Wanna-be Beekeeper

    Christy,
    The comb that fell out can be reattached to the original frame by the use of rubber bands.
    In the spring the bees will have moved up to the top of the hive leaving the bottom empty. This will give you the opportunity to remove and replace the unwanted frames.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Pinsonfork, Kentucky, USA
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Wanna-be Beekeeper

    Thank you. I hope that doesn't happen again. For this frame, I guess it's too late?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Burlington, IA, USA
    Posts
    24

    Default Re: Wanna-be Beekeeper

    Christy, good job on your first inspection!
    If the frames are a mess you may want to study "cut out" videos. They show how to fit wild comb into frames with rubber bands like Mr.Beeman mentioned. That way you can save some of the comb if you want to.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    6,724

    Default Re: Wanna-be Beekeeper

    Here is how a rubberbands can hold loose comb into a frame:


    Photo linked from: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/2877166/posts

    The bees will re-attach the comb to the frame, and may eventually remove the rubber bands themselves (if you don't do it first)
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

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