First Season With Bees - Reflection & Questions
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2017
    countryside, il

    Default First Season With Bees - Reflection & Questions

    Hello All,

    So far, I would say the year was great! Closing in on winter, I took only two bars of honey, and between brood/honey, 21 bars in the tbh. I'm in Chicago, and it's starting to get chilly. We had some snow, lows in the 20s. I decided to put a few fondant bars on the tops of the bars, no way I could slide them under on the bottom. Concerns for this season and going into the spring, being they make it:

    1. When I opened the hive, there were dead bees away from the cluster on the bottom. The cluster is near the front, these bees were towards the back. Did they freeze? Or can the bees not take them out in the cold? I covered the hive with insulation on the outside for extra protection, so now I can't see them until spring in my observation window.

    2. My bottom is not screened, solid wood. How do I mite check with this? What is the best way to treat mites in a Tbh? I did not treat for mites. I have one hive, and I kept a close eye on them. That's not to say didn'tt have them, but I couldn't find a feasible way to treat them.

    3. The bees closed their entrance with propolis on their own. Do I just cut this out in the spring?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Colorado Springs, CO United States

    Default Re: First Season With Bees - Reflection & Questions

    3. In my experience, colonies that closed down entrances with propolis will open them up/remove it as needed. I"ll let the other experts handle one and two
    Please excuse me, I am now free to go manage & treat ;)
    my ladies the best way I know how.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    denver colorado

    Default Re: First Season With Bees - Reflection & Questions

    let the bees do what they want with the propolis

    wash the mites
    you can cut the bottom off one cup and just put some mesh fabric between the 2 cups

    KTBHs are a pain for most treatments, I use OAD if I must. OAV can be done, building a follower board and a bent wand to OAV form the back comes to mind as would a crack pipe type vaporizer with a 1/4" output tube put threw a hole in the side of the hive

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Geauga, Ohio

    Default Re: First Season With Bees - Reflection & Questions

    If you have bees, you have mites. By the time you see them on the bees, it is too late. It means all the hidden "good" sucky places on the bee are occupied so the extra mites have to hang out on the back (where you can see the mite).

    To check for mites, I built a base with 2 wood boards (2 x 4) sticking up - wide enough to hold either end of the bar and tall enough that I could slide a tray under the drawn out bar. I found that using a clear tall SOLO brand cup 1/2 filled with 70-90% alcohol, with a canning funnel, next to the comb was easiest for bee collecting. I would just take something solid, like my hive tool, and brush bees into the cup. I would check really hard for the queen on the frame in question, and use one that was on the edge of the brood nest but had some bees. Some bars are completely dense, some halfway, others pretty sparsely covered in warm weather - I use the halfway ones.

    The SOLO cup has another cup inside it with the bottom 1 inch cut out of the cup. Then a mesh of at least 1/8" holes is placed between the inner/cut bottom cup and the outer one. THen you can swirl or stir your bees. I use a laundry bag intended for a female's unmentionables as the mesh btwn the 2 cups.

    sorry I can't just cut and paste the pic.

    Anyways, about the propolised entrance - I would open it. About an inch square, if you have a long thin one. I would check for a gap that they started using as a main entrance. They need a functioning entrance, and it should be where you want it to be. It may be too cold for them to open it soon.

    I had mites at about 6% in 2 of 6 hives, more like 4% in the others, so I am treating 2x with OAV now. It is a broodless time. I'll check for mites in March or so and probably treat again then too. I was blown away with how quickly mite counts went up this year. True for many others too. Check monthly.

    I use an oxalic acid wand. 1/2 tsp is 2 grams, which is what is recommended for a 2 story broodnest. I figure it's harder for the vapor to move horizontally, so I use the 2grams/1/2 tsp. I move the honey comb to the end of the hive, and block with a follower so no vapor hits it. And then I sometimes cut out some comb so I can stick the wand under about 2 combs into the 10-15 comb broodnest. I then put the follower up and tilt it so it is set sort of closed. Then I use a towel to close the bottom gap. ALWAYS USE PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT WITH OAV. It can roast your lungs and eyes - you know, mucous membranes.

    2 key steps for using OAV successfully (aside from not dying by using protection from vapor, both goggles and mask):
    1. Try it on your lawn first, to be sure the battery you chose is strong enough. I chose one that is too small. There should not be ANY residue left over in the wand. I do 2 "clicks" of the wand with no break in 1 hive, to fully sublimate the oxalic acid.
    2. Test for mites about 7 d after treating - but I can't in the winter, so I am crossing fingers now. In the spring/summer/fall I do mite check after a treatment to be sure it worked.


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