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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Pueblo,co
    Posts
    8

    Default extreme beginner suburban beekeeper

    So today is my first day as a suburban beekeeper. 2 days ago I had a small swarm on my fence, so i quickly built a top bar hive and placed it near the swarm with a cottonball soaked with lemongrass oil inside... the bees kept to themselves and paid no attention to the home i built for them. My patience deteriorated and i opened the hive and scooped the mass of bees into the box and put the lid back on. I watched them flying around for hours in and out of the hive. by evening they had all collected in a cluster under the hive. I was a little frustrated now. Later that night I got a container and again scooped the mass and put them inside the hive. To my amazement this morning the bees were steadily flying in and out of the hive. I've been observing them off and on all day until just recently i peeked inside the hive. There is about 250 bees inside, clung to the walls, moving around doing bee things i guess. So my question is NOW WHAT? What do I do? Are they likely to stay? Please offer any advice and knowledge as I am very eager to keep this colony and maybe next year harvest some honey.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Bells, Texas
    Posts
    80

    Default Re: extreme beginner suburban beekeeper

    Is there some sort of guide on your top bars. That seems to help them start to draw out comb. It sounds like the first time you didn't get the queen and the second scoop got her. Since you have no drawn comb or foundation, you need to feed to get them to draw some out quickly. You are in Colorado so I would think that it might be tough getting them through the winter with no stores, but feed them and maybe they can make a go of it. Also at some point the queen will stop laying and you will have what you have until spring. Good luck! You are probably giving them a better chance than they would have had otherwise.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Pueblo,co
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: extreme beginner suburban beekeeper

    I'm not certain what you mean by "guides" , I have mimicked the shape of the exterior with plywood for now and melted some beeswax onto the wood. the hive is shaped like an inverted V, it's about 12" at the top and 6" at the bottom... until I understand better what I need to have inside the hive I assumed this would be a sufficient start. I have read the poem and understand that this late in the year I'm gonna have to feed them. I plan on using the fondant cakes i saw on another beekeeping site... I also keep chickens in my yard so a fresh water supply is always on hand. should I start feeding them now? the flowers in my yard and garden are still blossoming?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Denver, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: extreme beginner suburban beekeeper

    Ok, so you have about 250 bees and a queen and a box that is frameless. This is what I would do if it were me. Order yourself a nuc from any supplier and make sure you get one with some frames. Also I would get a feeder for it as well. Feed that hive continuously with 2 to 1 sugar to water mixture. With a lot of luck your hive might make it but don't be surprised if they don't. That's not a lot of bees to work with and by the time they draw comb out and your queen starts laying you may lose the hive. If you can contact a bee club in Pueblo and get someone to help you with a couple of frames of brood and honey. Your fighting an uphill battle but good luck.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Pueblo,co
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: extreme beginner suburban beekeeper

    Thanks for the info Vallejo64, I am trying to get in touch with the Pikes Peak Beekeepers Assoc. but they haven't returned my call yet. I will start feeding immediately. I'm hopeful that the queen will start laying soon and the workers will start building brood comb immediately... but how do know if they are building anything in there? Is it quite visible upon inspection?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Denver, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: extreme beginner suburban beekeeper

    If they have nothing to start with but the walls of the hive it will be slow going but you should see in a few days the start of drawn comb. If you keep the sugar water going they might get after it. A lot also depends on queen. If its a new queen than she will have to mate and that takes a few days. If its and old queen as soon as the comb is drawn she should start laying.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Pueblo,co
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: extreme beginner suburban beekeeper

    Ok Vallejo, I have put a shallow container of sugar water mixture in the hive and now I'll just be patient and hope for the best. I've sent an email to my local beekeeping assoc... I'm just gonna sit back and watch them. thank you

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Bertie County,NC
    Posts
    870

    Default Re: extreme beginner suburban beekeeper

    if it is a true swarm....they will build comb very fast. Make sure you get food on them, and then see what happens.

    If you happen to lose them, you have tried, had some fun, and learned something....but starting with such a small amount, you will not have lost much.

    Good luck

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Knox, Pa. USA
    Posts
    1,258

    Default Re: extreme beginner suburban beekeeper

    If you have a top bar hive the bees will build the come down from the bars. it is best to have a guide comb or something to get them started, but not necessary. a bead of wax down the center of the top bar will usually get them started. feed them syrup all they will take, if there is nectar available the bees will usually ignore syrup so as long as they will take it feed it you need to get them strong before winter.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,894

    Default Re: extreme beginner suburban beekeeper

    How much lemongrass oil? Too much will drive them out.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    4,119

    Default Re: extreme beginner suburban beekeeper

    Chances are they won't build up very large before winter. If you can put a sugar water feeder inside the hive it will help them.
    Dan

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Pueblo,co
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: extreme beginner suburban beekeeper

    So, because we are really late into bee season, does this late swarm tell us anything about the colony itself? Is this more likely to be a virgin queen? Are they less healthy or thriving? I'm just wondering way they may have chosen to swarm so late in the year. Also do the numbers say anything about them?... are they less organized than a larger swarm?

    I'm sorry but I have so many questions at this point and even after paging through dozens of sites so many are left unanswered


    Please understand I am super appreciative of all of the time and thought being given to my little colony

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Pueblo,co
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: extreme beginner suburban beekeeper

    Thank you Michael for your response...it was a few drops on a cotton ball.... now that they are in there should I remove the lemongrass oil?

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,894

    Default Re: extreme beginner suburban beekeeper

    > There is about 250 bees inside, clung to the walls, moving around doing bee things i guess.

    I don't think you have a queen. If you do, it was not the only queen. 250 bees are never going to make a colony even if they have a queen.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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