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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    North Pole, Alaska
    Posts
    27

    Default My first Top Bar hive in North Pole Alaska! could use some advice.

    I am a new beek and I just installed my 4# package of carnies on the 13th. I checked the hive today and it looks like they got the queen out of the cage and are clustered on the left side of the hive. I am a little concerned about the amount of 1:1 sugar syrup they are eating which isn't much. Is this normal. Also as you can see in the picture they are all on the left side. Is ideal for them to start drawing come from the center? If so how is there anything I can do to encourage them to build from the center.

    Here is some more information of the temps inside and outside the hive. Please let me know if you have any suggestions that may help the bees out.

    Day of install outside temp was 45 deg. and inside the hive it was 68 deg. I have a heater sitting under the hive inside my shop to regulate the temp.

    Queen was placed on the bottom of the hive with a small amount of marshmellow covering the hole.

    The days since the install it has been getting up to 50 outside and down in the 20's at night. They have been flying outside during the day but not going far. The average temp in the morning with the thermometer next to the feeder inside the hive has been 55 deg and warming up throughout the day.

    The forcast for the next 10 days is mostly sunny highs aroung 55 and lows around 30. There is still snow on the ground but will be melted soon due to the warm temps.

    They have thrown out about 30-40 dead bees. Is normal numbers? Some of those are from bees that didnt make it into the hive.

    Have a look at the pics and let me know what you think.20140416_170501.jpg20140416_163122.jpg20140416_074757.jpg20140414_163648.jpg20140414_163329.jpg20140413_163511.jpg

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Crivitz, WI
    Posts
    154

    Default Re: My first Top Bar hive in North Pole Alaska! could use some advice.

    I do not know enough to answer all your questions, but I started two hives last year. One started on the left side, and one started on the right side. they had it all straightened out a month later. You are always going to get a few dead bees, they do not live very long to begin with. Not sure about the rest. As far as the feed, if it is too cold, I think less than 50 degree syrup temp, they will not take it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    North Pole, Alaska
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: My first Top Bar hive in North Pole Alaska! could use some advice.

    Here is a link to my neighbor installing the bees. I was out of town and couldnt do it myself .

    https://youtu.be/I8z0A0CeS2c

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: My first Top Bar hive in North Pole Alaska! could use some advice.

    I have seen my bees fly as cold as 42F but generally they only fly at 48F or above and sunny. I've read similar to Duncan about the syrup temps, that they won't take it at below 50F. Keep in mind it takes the syrup longer to warm up than the air, so if you could do something to warm it a bit it might help. I also find they really like it when I put a tablespoon of cider vinegar in a batch of syrup.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
    Posts
    3,667

    Default Re: My first Top Bar hive in North Pole Alaska! could use some advice.

    I have found that bees normally start on the side of a box, not the center. The only times I have seen them start in the center is if the queen cage was hung between combs in the center, with frames of foundation in the hive, not foundationless frames or top bars. I think starting at the side gives them one side of solid board for security, to help hold in the temps they want and give them one side they don't have to defend.

    They take syrup much better when it is placed right over the top of the cluster. The pics look like they would have to travel to get to your feed. They stay clustered up until temps get towards 50, so they won't be feeding much yet. Also. they need warmer temps to take syrup and to draw comb.

    You should see more and better activity after your temps get up higher.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,136

    Default Re: My first Top Bar hive in North Pole Alaska! could use some advice.

    Flying temps are a combination of temperature, wind and sun. The calmer and sunnier it is the colder temp they will fly in. In general terms I always figure 50 F is flying weather, but I've seen the flying in much colder weather when it was sunny and calm. Calm is a very rare thing here...

    >Queen was placed on the bottom of the hive with a small amount of marshmellow covering the hole.

    I never leave the queen in a cage on the bottom if the weather is cold, but your heater may mitigate that risk. They often leave her to cluster when it's cold. Make sure you don't have it too hot... ideal for a colony with no comb and no stores is probably about 50 so they can take the syrup.

    >The days since the install it has been getting up to 50 outside and down in the 20's at night. They have been flying outside during the day but not going far. The average temp in the morning with the thermometer next to the feeder inside the hive has been 55 deg and warming up throughout the day.

    The issue is what temperature the syrup is. The syrup often doesn't get warmed up enough during the day if it's 20 at night and 55 in the day. They syrup has to get up to 50 F

    > The forcast for the next 10 days is mostly sunny highs aroung 55 and lows around 30. There is still snow on the ground but will be melted soon due to the warm temps.

    You will probably need to keep the heater going, not to keep them warm, but to keep the syrup warm.

    > They have thrown out about 30-40 dead bees. Is normal numbers?

    Low, but I wouldn't complain...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    North Pole, Alaska
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: My first Top Bar hive in North Pole Alaska! could use some advice.

    Thanks for the feedback everyone. What im gathering is it is normal for the bees to cluster on one side. Also its more important to keep the syrup warm than it is to keep the bees warm.

    Mike, why dont you want it to warm in the hive as far as the bees are concerned?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,136

    Default Re: My first Top Bar hive in North Pole Alaska! could use some advice.

    The bees can survive at -40 F if they have their stomach full of honey. The warmer it is the more active they are. Ideal temperature for long lived bees is about 40 F, but they do fine at 20 F as well. But only if they have food and they can't take syrup unless the syrup is 50 F or more. There is nothing wrong with keeping the bees warm at this point in time (it is spring, after all) but it is simply not the point. The syrup is what matters so they have fuel to keep themselves warm.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    North Pole, Alaska
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: My first Top Bar hive in North Pole Alaska! could use some advice.

    Makes sense thanks.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Clinton, Iowa
    Posts
    628

    Default Re: My first Top Bar hive in North Pole Alaska! could use some advice.

    I've had a heating pad on the two jars of syrup behind my follower board to keep the syrup warm. If I had to guess it's about 60 degrees or so most of the time and probably warmer during the day. It seems to have worked as the package hasn't had a very noticable difference in size. We've had a few nights in the 20s and most in the lower 30s since installed 4/5.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    North Pole, Alaska
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: My first Top Bar hive in North Pole Alaska! could use some advice.

    Colleen,
    How much syrup do you put a tablespoon of cider vinegar in to?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Clinton, Utah, USA
    Posts
    160

    Default Re: My first Top Bar hive in North Pole Alaska! could use some advice.

    Hey Chris, I finally found your thread with pics. Nice job. I was going to say that it looked like the feeder was a bit away from the cluster. When they get cold they can't move freely since they must cluster for warmth. It looked like the space was fairly large for their start. I would expect that you should move the slider up to make their space smaller in the beginning, to make it a smaller space to have to heat. I think somebody needs to come up with a bottle feeder design for a top bar hive, that allows the bottle to be in the space with the bees, so that it would be kept warm. Or perhaps a design that at least the syrup came into the heated chamber via a tube from the bottle, so that a portion of the syrup could be warmed by the bees. In either case, having the feed only an inch away from the clustering bees, would be ideal.
    Workingtosavetheworld1beeatatime:-)~ Researching winter loss prevention- 12 yrs, 2 recent - 10 Hives, WARMBEES.COM

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Clinton, Utah, USA
    Posts
    160

    Default Re: My first Top Bar hive in North Pole Alaska! could use some advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by chris_nelson123 View Post
    Here is a link to my neighbor installing the bees. I was out of town and couldnt do it myself .

    https://youtu.be/I8z0A0CeS2c
    This video was marked private and would not show for me.
    Workingtosavetheworld1beeatatime:-)~ Researching winter loss prevention- 12 yrs, 2 recent - 10 Hives, WARMBEES.COM

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    North Pole, Alaska
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: My first Top Bar hive in North Pole Alaska! could use some advice.

    You should be able to view the video now.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Clinton, Utah, USA
    Posts
    160

    Default Re: My first Top Bar hive in North Pole Alaska! could use some advice.

    Video now works. Thanks. Nice job. So neighbor is beekeeper? Is he the one with langstroths? Otherwise pretty brave. Looked like he knew what he was doing.
    Workingtosavetheworld1beeatatime:-)~ Researching winter loss prevention- 12 yrs, 2 recent - 10 Hives, WARMBEES.COM

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Easthampton, Massachusetts, USA
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: My first Top Bar hive in North Pole Alaska! could use some advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by warmbees View Post
    This video was marked private and would not show for me.
    That is the most thorough unpacking of bees I've seen. lol, guess I'm lazy, I only give them one shake then let the rest march in.

    Are you going to keep the hive under shelter (where it is) because of your location?

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    North Pole, Alaska
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: My first Top Bar hive in North Pole Alaska! could use some advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by warmbees View Post
    Video now works. Thanks. Nice job. So neighbor is beekeeper? Is he the one with langstroths? Otherwise pretty brave. Looked like he knew what he was doing.
    Yes this is the neighbor with the three langstroth hives. He is very good with helping me out. He has no experience with top bar hives so he is learning right along with me.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    North Pole, Alaska
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: My first Top Bar hive in North Pole Alaska! could use some advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by tycobb48 View Post
    That is the most thorough unpacking of bees I've seen. lol, guess I'm lazy, I only give them one shake then let the rest march in.


    Are you going to keep the hive under shelter (where it is) because of your location?
    Yes it was a pretty thorough unpacking probably because the temperature at the time was in the low forties and it would have been two cold for the bees still inside the package to fly into the hive.

    I just brought the beehive out side where they will stay for the summer since the temperatures have been getting to the high fifties to low sixties. The reason I had them inside initially was because the temps were still a little too cold and there was still two feet of snow on the ground. Also temperatures in interior alaska are very unpredictable at this time of year. Last year we had snow thru the whole month of april with highs only in the thirties. We even had a snow storm in the middle of may.

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