bought 10 frame hive with bees only had 7 frames
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  1. #1
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    Default bought 10 frame hive with bees only had 7 frames

    I bought a hive last year from a lady that thought she wanted to get into beekeeping, but changed her mind for one reason or another.

    I believe she got her hive in the spring of 2014, and didn't do much with it. I purchased her hive and equipment in the summer of last year (2015).

    When I opened the hive for the first time, I found out she had removed some frames and for whatever reason (she was scared??) she didn't put them all back in.

    My hive has survived this winter, and I checked them out today. They seem to be doing well, although it is hard to tell since the frames are all glued into the hive and I don't want to attempt to pull out the frames and risk damaging their home.

    Here's a picture I took today:

    https://www.dropbox.com/sc/7v3aq0r2n...CpfWuEgG7W80Wa

    I've started a blog for bee record keeping purposes, and put more pictures I took today there: jasonsbees.blogspot.com

    I am a novice beekeeper, but I think I have a plan and would like some feedback.

    1) add a new deep (box B) on top of the current deep (box A)
    2) let the girls build up the new hive body
    3) add another super (box C) when box B is built up, but move box A to the top and B to the bottom so I would have (from Top to Bottom): A, C, B

    The goal here is to end up with the messy hive box on top with only honey in it. I can then take it off the hive, move it to my shed and attempt to salvage what I can out of there. I figure I can probably get a couple of frames of honey out of it that can be put back into the hive, but that might be optimistic as the frames are randomly spaced out. I might be going about this all wrong, which is why I am asking for some advice!

    I would appreciate advice with reasoning behind it (IE, try doing X because of Y) so I can better understand what I am doing.

    Thanks very much!
    Last edited by jlaudiofan; 02-21-2016 at 11:13 PM. Reason: Oops! Wrong hive picture.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
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    Issaquah,WA,USA
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    Default Re: bought 10 frame hive with bees only had 7 frames

    So you bought a hive last year and just now opened it? Seems your plan had a few holes in it as well as missing frames.

    Keep moving the messy frames up so the brood gets moved out of it. Then when it is brood-less cut it out and let them clean up the mess.

    And pay better attention to your hives moving forward. Also find a mentor or a local club to join quick.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
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    Tucson, AZ
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    Default Re: bought 10 frame hive with bees only had 7 frames

    Quote Originally Posted by EastSideBuzz View Post
    So you bought a hive last year and just now opened it? Seems your plan had a few holes in it as well as missing frames.
    No. I opened it the next day. Thanks for your productive and welcoming response.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
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    N.E. KY
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    Default Re: bought 10 frame hive with bees only had 7 frames

    The comb that isn't in any frames, keep. Like eastbuzz says, let the brood out first and tie it or rubber band it in a frame. They will fix it.
    www.facebook.com/hives2honey Oxalic Vaporizers, supplement and more!!!!!! Check me out.

  6. #5
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    Dec 2010
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    hinesville ga usa
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    Default Re: bought 10 frame hive with bees only had 7 frames

    Or, add a deep now, a deep later and supers as needed. By mid to late summer they should have moved out of the first brood box and started filling it with winter stores, just remove the screwed up box and clean it up.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
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    Salisbury, NH
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    Default Re: bought 10 frame hive with bees only had 7 frames

    Quote Originally Posted by stan.vick View Post
    Or, add a deep now, a deep later and supers as needed. By mid to late summer they should have moved out of the first brood box and started filling it with winter stores, just remove the screwed up box and clean it up.
    Yea what he said.
    Sometimes you do something that isn't ideal cause of the situation. Imo, by late summer when that box is mostly empty I'd take out the **** up comb (some old boxes in my apiary have f.u.c. Scrawled on them)

  8. #7
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    Nov 2013
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    Default Re: bought 10 frame hive with bees only had 7 frames

    Quote Originally Posted by jlaudiofan View Post
    No. I opened it the next day. Thanks for your productive and welcoming response.
    I love this post.

  9. #8
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    Jun 2014
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    San Mateo, CA
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    Default Re: bought 10 frame hive with bees only had 7 frames

    I don't see many bees in that box - and they don't even seem to be working the three frames on the right and the one on the left. It's a pretty dismal hive.

    I would just leave them. If they die, clean up the comb when it has no bees on it, if they survive, wait until the queen moves to a higher box, then move this box above a queen excluder so they stop laying brood in it.

    Personally I would give them a cheap mite treatment, like a few rounds of oxalic acid, but I wouldn't spend any time or money on them otherwise

  10. #9
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    Feb 2014
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    Clinton, Iowa
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    Default Re: bought 10 frame hive with bees only had 7 frames

    What is in between the deep you added on top and the original box? Queen excluder?


    Honestly, that hive doesn't look like it needs the space it has, let alone another deep to deal with. I'd take it off and get them build up before adding more room. Then get them building up and eventually the bottom deep will be empty or nearly empty and you can just get rid of that mess all at once instead of going the "cut out" route. Make sure they're a functional colony of bees before investing a bunch more time and money into them though. Good luck, she probably didn't put the frames in correctly to begin with so they got drawn fat and had bridge comb. Likely hadn't read anything about bees or beekeeping other than toss them in a box and walk away. So you get the fix her mess!

  11. #10
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    Morro Bay, California, USA
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    Default Re: bought 10 frame hive with bees only had 7 frames

    Build two Nuc boxes, and buy a cheap unframed plastic queen excluder, and 10 additional frames.
    Make a 5 over 5 stack.
    Move the wild comb into the bottom nuc box, fill the straight comb in the upper box.
    Monitor the upper box for the queen moving up.
    When you have her located her upstairs, insert the QE (it will hang over, or cut it to fit).
    Let the brood downstairs hatch out (21 days).

    Remove the wild comb, replace with straight comb, remove the QE.

    Melt the wax out of the wild comb. Don't expect much recovery, as it will be mostly cocoons which soak up wax.

    You can speed this process up with a queen clip -- shake and smoke the colony through the QE, the queen can be captured in a clip and forced to live above the QE for the "brood hatch" interperiod.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: bought 10 frame hive with bees only had 7 frames

    Quote Originally Posted by jwcarlson View Post
    What is in between the deep you added on top and the original box? Queen excluder?
    Looks like he has a QE -- so he can reverse the boxes, and shake and smoke *all* the bees off the wild comb. Capture the queen on the box with clean comb using the QE, temporarily stack the messed up box upstairs, after 21 days the bad comb can be pulled and gotten rid of.

    A small colony (such as shown) will often abandon brood trapped away from the queen. No big loss, really.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: bought 10 frame hive with bees only had 7 frames

    I think these sort of problems are fun. Lots of ways to skin the cat. Your idea will work. So likely will other suggestions. There is nothing inherently unhealthy with this comb, so you can take your time to correct the problem.

    I think moving the frames outward toward the sides of the hive (rather than upward into a super) will also allow the brood to hatch and, if you time it right, maybe you can get it pulled before it gets refilled with eggs, honey, or pollen.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: bought 10 frame hive with bees only had 7 frames

    Jason, I took a look at your blog photos.

    The fact that you have bees in a box after 2 years and they are easy to handle is a good sign.

    I have a few questions for you.

    How are your current flows (What do you have coming into the hive at this time) and what is your typical temps/weather patterns for your area at this time?

    In your last picture what box is the messed up one?
    Is that an excluder that you have on between the boxes?

    Are these your only bees?

  15. #14
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    Default Re: bought 10 frame hive with bees only had 7 frames

    Quote Originally Posted by JWChesnut View Post
    A small colony (such as shown) will often abandon brood trapped away from the queen. No big loss, really.
    I like your nuc idea, though, JWChesnut. I wouldn't want a colony that size losing any of its existing brood... but I am obviously in a different zip code.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: bought 10 frame hive with bees only had 7 frames

    Quote Originally Posted by Sunday Farmer View Post
    I love this post.
    =)
    Quote Originally Posted by jwcarlson View Post
    What is in between the deep you added on top and the original box? Queen excluder?

    (snip)
    Good luck, she probably didn't put the frames in correctly to begin with so they got drawn fat and had bridge comb. Likely hadn't read anything about bees or beekeeping other than toss them in a box and walk away. So you get the fix her mess!
    There isn't anything between those two hive bodies. I think she spraypainted the hive purple while the telescoping cover was on, so it's just raw unpainted wood. I do have two queen excluders which I might end up using, but I would prefer to let the bees sort themselves out. I don't have my heart set on honey this year. Wait, that's a lie. I really do want honey, but I won't steal it from them unless there is PLENTY to go around.

    I don't mind cleaning up the mess, it'll give me lots of hands on experience =)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Biggs View Post
    Jason, I took a look at your blog photos.

    The fact that you have bees in a box after 2 years and they are easy to handle is a good sign.

    I have a few questions for you.

    How are your current flows (What do you have coming into the hive at this time) and what is your typical temps/weather patterns for your area at this time?
    Right now there is creosote blooming, as well as desert mallow and several other wildflowers. The temps have been high 40's at night and around 80 during the day. Next week looks like mid 40s/mid 80's as well. The little bit of winter we do have out here gets cold for sure, but it's brief. We will have lots of sun until around july when the monsoon season starts up and we get some rain, and the desert greens up and blooms like crazy then.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Biggs View Post
    In your last picture what box is the messed up one?
    Is that an excluder that you have on between the boxes?
    Are these your only bees?
    The purple one is the messed up one.
    No excluder, just raw wood from when previous lady spraypainted box with the top cover on.
    Yes, these are my only bees.

    I know there aren't many bees in there right now, but I added the white super on top so they won't want to swarm. I'd rather let them build up and then split them when I know that there are enough honey stores for 2 nucs to overwinter, if that is even possible this year.

    I know that there will be plenty of forage around the monsoon season. I had a swarm move in underneath the dashboard of my boat last spring (added those pictures to the blog), and after about a month I had a local beekeeper volunteer to help remove them. It got quite messy, and we salvaged what comb we could (enough to rubberband 6 frames full) and ended up with about a gallon of honey from comb that wasn't salvageable (for the bees at least). We did not find the queen, and they later swarmed to a creosote bush 30 feet away while I wasn't home. I came home and heard them buzzing when I got out of the truck... Ran to put my veil on and get a box, but they took off before I could catch them.

    Point of that story is they built up REALLY fast, and they were quite gentle bees as well. I believe that my current hive, assuming they aren't sick, will probably build up pretty quick starting soon.

    Thanks very much for all of your replies! I feel better about my plan now. I will definitly try and save as much comb as I can when I get into that box.
    Last edited by jlaudiofan; 02-22-2016 at 04:02 PM.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: bought 10 frame hive with bees only had 7 frames

    the ol 10 combs on 7 frames trick.... looks like good sticky fun.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: bought 10 frame hive with bees only had 7 frames

    Quote Originally Posted by Sky View Post
    the ol 10 combs on 7 frames trick.... looks like good sticky fun.
    It will be a sticky situation indeed!

  19. #18
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    Default Re: bought 10 frame hive with bees only had 7 frames

    The first thing I would try is to get one or two of the outside frames out. They don't look that bad and it is unlikely there will be brood in those combs. Throw a couple of foundation frames in their place (probably will not get used). Use the box on top or get a nuc box and block off the exposed frames of the bottom box if you use the 5 framer. Put the one or two frames you got out of the bottom box in the top box right in the center. Add three more frames with foundation. If you are using a full size box block in the empty space on the sides. If there is no nectar coming in you have to feed as much as I hate to do it so they will draw out the foundation and raise brood. The bees will go in the top box, I guarantee it. As they draw out the comb keep adding new frames. If you are using the nuc size box you will have to add another nuc (5 over 5) pulling up at least one drawn frame. When you get 3 boxes high drawn and 75% filled the bottom box will not have brood so it can be removed, cleaned up and repopulated if you want.
    I like using mediums and this would be an opportune time to change from deeps to mediums. Kill two birds with one stone so to speak. The instant you see nectar available I would stop feeding.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  20. #19
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    Default Re: bought 10 frame hive with bees only had 7 frames

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    The first thing I would try is to get one or two of the outside frames out. They don't look that bad and it is unlikely there will be brood in those combs. Throw a couple of foundation frames in their place (probably will not get used). Use the box on top or get a nuc box and block off the exposed frames of the bottom box if you use the 5 framer. Put the one or two frames you got out of the bottom box in the top box right in the center. Add three more frames with foundation. If you are using a full size box block in the empty space on the sides. If there is no nectar coming in you have to feed as much as I hate to do it so they will draw out the foundation and raise brood. The bees will go in the top box, I guarantee it. As they draw out the comb keep adding new frames. If you are using the nuc size box you will have to add another nuc (5 over 5) pulling up at least one drawn frame. When you get 3 boxes high drawn and 75% filled the bottom box will not have brood so it can be removed, cleaned up and repopulated if you want.
    I like using mediums and this would be an opportune time to change from deeps to mediums. Kill two birds with one stone so to speak. The instant you see nectar available I would stop feeding.
    ACEBIRD!!! Stop giving weird advice. Focus! Quality over quantity!!! You are making my head hurt!

    A weak hive like this is not turning 3 boxes high any time soon, is more likely to turn into 0 boxes. Changing to mediums would be disruptive, I don't even know how you would do this without cutting out the comb? How is that good for his weak hive in any way? What are you talking about???

    An argument could be made for pulling the 3 inner frames in one chunk, and dropping that into the bottom of a 5 over 5 nuc to get the queen into a higher box as quickly as possible, with proper number and spacing of frames above, so i'll give you credit for that, since I think that's what you were trying to say, although I can never fully understand your posts.

    It seems like you are also suggesting putting a nuc on top of a 10 frame? Not sure what you are trying to accomplish with that. If you have a nuc it would be better used for the arrangement above.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: bought 10 frame hive with bees only had 7 frames

    I have though about trying to remove the outer frames, but with them not being a strong hive I don't want to cause any disruption.

    I do have another question though. The hive removal I did, I ended up with a fair amount of pollen mixed in with honey. It does not smell fermented at all even though it's from last year. Is this something I could feed to the bees if I water it down a little? I have a jar feeder. Otherwise I will probably end up throwing it out.

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