Hi All: I posted here last fall regarding the die off in my observation hive. I appreciate all the great advice and am revising my care plans for this year to be more successful. I want to run my re-population plan by you to see if there are any obvious flaws I am ignoring.
My hive is all medium frames. 2 frames wide by 4 frames tall. Total 8 medium frames. The OH is situated in the visitor center of a nature preserve.
I plan to use a 3 lb. package for the new colony. When I receive the package I plan to hive it in a 5 over 5 frame (medium) nucleus hive for a month to let the colony establish itself and start a brood nest. I have drawn frames to start them on, some of those frames have light stores of honey and pollen in them already. After a month I will transfer them into the OH hive using the 8 best frames.
- Are the 10 frames for the first month enough space fro the package?
- I could also add 5 frames of foundation above the 10 frames of drawn comb to have the colony pull out comb on those frames. That would make the nuc 2 boxes high by 5 frames wide. (I'm limited by equipment availability).
I would not start an 8 frame OB hive with 3 pounds of bees. You will have a swarm at the fist sign of a flow. I usually have a ten frame hive with undrawn foundation for packages and a second is required in a month or so. Your Plan is sound, nut to install 8 full frames and associated bees into a OB hive is starting it out at it's max. I fins it better to start them with half or slightly less than that of the capacity. In an 8 frame hive I would place 4 empty drawn frames and 4 with brood, stores and bees. watching the hive develop and the dynamics of the hive doing so is part of having an Observation hive. without knowing your situation on other hives. I would suggest as the time approaches when you will populate the OB, I would order an queen to head the hive you will be taking them from. as you will surely have enough to do a split. It is almost guaranteed that you will be splitting them again in the late summer.
When Overwintering an OB where and how it is overwintered can dictate how you approach managing the hive. Is the OB in a heated building? a 2 frame side by side In Va. almost has to be.
Thank you for the excellent advice. I will plan to do a spit as suggested. To answer your question, yes the OB hive is indoors in a heated location.
I am a little constrained by what spare equipment I have available. I am a hobbyist with just 3 working hives, so I don't have scads of spare gear. All my 10 frame bottoms and tops are in use (or will be when the packages arrive). But I do have 5 frame nuc gear available. Do you think if I put the package on 15 frames; 5 drawn, and 10 foundation that will be enough space to keep them from moving out immediately?
Also with regard to the split I have an alternative approach. I have two colonies that overwintered. One is very strong, the other is kind of weak. I plan to follow your advice for the OB hive and move 4 frames with brood and stores (and the queen), and 4 drawn but empty frames into the OB hive. Would it be OK to take the frames and bees that don't go into the OB hive and do a paper combine with the weaker overwintered hive? This would give that colony a needed boost. I'm not opposed to ordering a queen but I will be at the number of hives I'm comfortable managing. I am also certain I will have to split the stronger hive in the spring and the OB hive. That will put me at 3 working hives, the OB hive , and 2 nucs if all goes well (lol). That's pretty much my limit.
Put 1/2 the package in a 5 frame nuc with the queen, to be installed in the OH after she is laying.
You can then put the other 1/2 of the package in the weak hive by doing a paper combine.
You want undrawn frames in the OH so people can see what happens inside the hive.
When you need to split it remove the bottom frames, move all others down and add undrawn at the top.
Take your time learning from the OH as they grow and you should be able to keep them alive all winter next year.
I have don it with a 3 frame hive 2 years in a row started form a swarm cell and 1 deep frame.
Good luck and have fun learning
Now that we know you have additional hives to work with I would do as Hoot described. Actually I would have not ordered the Package. And simply split the strong hive at the appropriate time. I would have used the split to populate the OB and let the Parent hive raise their own queen. It's what I call a two in one you get a split and the parent hive socks in the honey! A win win. However, since you have a weak hive that can use the resources splitting the package will work as well. If your OB hive has a queen introduction chamber you need not wait for them to become established. just split out of the package. Actually the queen has probably been in the package long enough that you can do a direct release. Just be careful she does not fly.
Ok thanks for those good ideas. Especially the insight on the splitting technique for the OB hive. I appreciate the guidance and look forward to trying to get the OB hive through next winter alive!
A little off topic.. but for background sake: I actually ordered two packages. One to replace a dead out I had early in the winter and the other "just in case". At the time package orders are going in through my bee club (January), I am usually unsure what my exact requirements will be. Since my other two hives made it through the winter and survived the recent freeze and snow storm, I only need one of them so the opportunity arose to use the other to re-start the OB hive. I agree that a split from the strong hive would have been the easiest way to go, but then again until last weekend (after some extreme cold) I really had no idea what resources I had to work with. The very warm weeks in February followed by the pattern last week had me very worried.
Yes it has been a crazy year weather wise. It has been leading up to this for several years here in Pa. Gestimating bee resources is difficult under the best of conditions. we all do what we have to, Better to have too many bees than not enough!
Just a quick update to this thread. My weaker hive turned into a dead out with very last freeze of the season (right after the snow). So I ended up installing two packages in full size hives on drawn comb. Last Sunday I made a split of the strong hive as Tenbears describes in post #5. I put 3 frames with adhered bees, including the queen, into a 5 X 5 nuc and shook some additional nurse bees in. I added seven drawn frames with stores from the dead out. I'll let this arrangement sit for several weeks and then move 4 frames with bees, the queen and some stores into the OB. I know the recommendation was that I didn't need to let them get established in the nuc, but I might get greedy and see if I can get this nuc raise another queen once I split out the initial population for the OB.