I finally have bees! - Page 2
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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
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    St. Lawrence County, N.Y.
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    57

    Default Re: I finally have bees!

    Sounds like you are doing fine. I got my first brood hatch yesterday at 29 days after I loaded a swarm into my first BTH ever. It was absolutely amazing!! New bees doing an orientation flight and all the old ones coming and going with them. Looks like a city highway at the entrance.

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  3. #22
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
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    Koeru, Järvamaa, Estonia
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    84

    Default Re: I finally have bees!

    Inspection 3 - All 13 bars have comb. I noticed some comb on the bottom of the hive at the entrance last time but the girls were telling me I was done for the day that time. So today I was planning on removing that as part of the inspection. I had read that comb problems become worse fast, but I had no idea it's this fast. They had conncted first two combs to the pieces on the floor and had also built on the pieces so I had to do some serious cutting and scraping to get everything cleaned up.

    Overall, this was by far the most destruction I have caused in the hice so far. One comb was curved in all possible directions. I straightened it up as best as I could and then just took my bread knife and cut the sides straight. All the comb I scraped off the bottom and the cut pieces of comb I put in a plastic dish and left it in the hive, behind the follower board, where I used to have the feeder.

    Still no eggs, but noticeably more pollen and the last 2 combs of honey is being capped at the top. I added 2 more bars between the straight comb and will be checking in on them again in 3 days.
    EU Hardiness Zone 5-6

  4. #23
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    Mar 2017
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    Koeru, Järvamaa, Estonia
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    Default Re: I finally have bees!

    Inspection 4 finally shows eggs as well as both open and capped brood. All in all on 4 combs. Nice and tight laying pattern, so things are looking good. One thing I noticed, is that the combs at the entrance of the hive have a yellowish tone to them. I'm guessing this is pollen the foragers are tracking in with their feet and not something to worry about?

    They are now on 14 bars, with 3 empty bars available to build on.
    EU Hardiness Zone 5-6

  5. #24
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    Mar 2017
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    Koeru, Järvamaa, Estonia
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    84

    Default Re: I finally have bees!

    Inspection 5 - everything seems to be in order, 4 combs of capped brood, 1 comb open brood. Loads of honey, nectar and pollen on all combs. They are now on 15 combs, three of those is small unfinished comb. Cant wait for all the baby bees to start emerging. They will be the ones to show my queens strengths or weaknesses and they are the ones I will have to overwinter.
    EU Hardiness Zone 5-6

  6. #25
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    Mar 2017
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    Koeru, Järvamaa, Estonia
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    84

    Default Re: I finally have bees!

    Inspection 6 - they really are taking this brood raising thing seriously... They are on 17 top bars, only the very last top bar available for them is empty. Since they have 4 partial combs in addition to that one empty one, I opted not to add any more this time. Looks like they are content with the space available. All in all they have 7 combs of capped brood, 2 combs of open brood and 4 combs of mixed honey/pollen combs - not counting the partials that are mostly empty. All brood combs have been fattened up at the top and filled with honey and capped. Luckily the fattened parts still stay mostly on the bar, so should not be a problem. Once they start building full honey combs, I suspect I will need either wider bars or spacers.

    I saw the queen for the very first time today! I had set that as one of my goals for this inspection - to try and spot her. I even set the camera up and presented each and every comb to it just in case I missed her - the hope was that I would be able to spot her watching the recording afterwards. Turns out that was not needed. I found her only few bars in - she's a true dark beauty! And her laying pattern continues to be almost perfect. Only few empty cells here and there which seem to be filled with nectar or uncapped honey.

    There was some very minor comb fixing needing to be done - for some reason they decided that the very first bar should not have comb on it, but rather it would be nice to have two small palm sized combs hanging off the side of the hive. I removed the combs and put them at the back of the hive to be cleaned up.

    Waiting for the first batch of brood to emerge so I can do a sugar roll and check for mites.

    Last edited by Thucar; 07-26-2017 at 06:46 AM.
    EU Hardiness Zone 5-6

  7. #26
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Geauga, Ohio
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    400

    Default Re: I finally have bees!

    I've found the brood combs fit well on the bars that are the recommended size - 1 and 3/8 inch, or 35 mm - but they want the honey storage combs to be wider, about 1.5 inch or 41 mm. So I have spacers which are 1/4 inch - 5-6 mm or so - that I put between the bars. That helps so the bees don't offset the combs a bit more with each comb to try to fit a 1.5 inch comb on a 1 3/8 inch bar!

    Also I recommend giving a lot of space this time of year, especially if there is a nectar flow - but only 1 bar between drawn out comb. What I do is place a single bar between drawn comb, with 2 in the brood nest (so if the brood area is combs 1-17, I would add an empty bar after 15 and after 16), and at least 2 in the honey storage area. They might not be crafting one yet since they are getting the brood nest going - but if you add at least 3 bars (between drawn comb) every 5-10 days, then they will drawn out a lot of comb and be less inclined to swarm.

    If the bars stay empty, and you don't see any more white new comb, then the nectar flow may be over. I don't know if Estonia has a dry period in the summer the way Ohio does, but we have a month where very little nectar comes in. If I was starting a new hive now, I would feed 1:1 sugar syrup CONTINUOUSLY after they stop making new comb. If you feed every once in a while, with a few days where the feeder is empty, they store the nectar instead of using it to make comb. So no breaks to make a fake nectar flow for comb building.

    Good luck and keep us posted!

    Oh and I am making a point to take pictures of the brood pattern with each inspection. Problems with increasing numbers of holes in the solid brood mean the bees are removing brood for some reason. European foul brood and high mite pressure are some of those reasons, or not enough nurse bees. So it is good to have brood pattern pictures over time. So I've found anyways!

  8. #27
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
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    Koeru, Järvamaa, Estonia
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    84

    Default Re: I finally have bees!

    Thanks trishbookworm - I'm currently keeping an eye on the comb placement to see when they start inching towards the outer edge of the bar. I suspect that will be a good indication it's time to add spacers. I also followed your advice during todays inspection and added 2 new bars in the broodnest and 2 more in the storage area. Sandwitching them all individually between the straightest available comb. Looks like I'm having the best of luck finding the queen - saw her again today, strutting on some brood comb.

    My original goal for todays inspection was to take a comb of emerged brood and do a sugar roll test with the nurses on it. Unfortunately there was not too much emerged brood at this time. Ony one comb had mostly emerged brood on it but I was worried the bees might not be all on that comb but rather all over the other combs and the result would be a very diluted concentration of young nurses. So I postponed the sugar roll test for the next inspection. A very large portion of brood should be emerged by that time and I should be able to get a valid result.

    Also - got my very first sting (from my own bees) today. I was flicking away flies that constantly landed on my fingers and failed to notice one was not a fly. She did not appreciate being flicked away.

    There is a LOT of pollen (and I suspect nectar as well) still coming in - counted 151 bees in a minute at the entrance. 91 arriving, 60 leaving, even though I read on local beekeeping forums that people are taking off supers from their hives. There are currently 11 combs of sealed brood and 3 combs of open brood. A booklet for newbie Estonian beekeepers says that in the beginning of August it is time to start compacting the brood nest and preparing them for winter. My plan for the next inspection is to see if there are any eggs/larvae in the empty brood cells. If not, should I gather all combs with brood at the entrance and move the already hatched brood comb at the back of the brood nest, just in front of the storage bars? Also, when I'm saying storage bars, there really are only 2 I could call that. The rest of their storage is all packed away above the brood. About 10cm of capped honey and pollen on all 14 bars, in extra wide comb.

    A recommendation for winter stores around here seems to be either "a hive should weigh 50kg" or "a hive needs 10 frames of honey" (Estonian frame is 277 X 414 mm) I'm having a hard time translating that knowledge into TBH language. I have no idea if my hive is going winter strong, weak or so-so.

    These are the monthly avg temperatures for Estonia. In Dec-Feb we can get cold spells down to -20C and -25C

    __ Jan| Feb| Mar| Apr| May| Jun| Jul| Aug| Sep| Oct| Nov| Dec
    °C | -4 | -5 | -1 | 06 | 11 | 15 | 18 | 17 | 12 | 06 | 01 | -02
    °F | 25 | 23 | 30 | 43 | 52 | 59 | 64 | 63 | 54 | 43 | 34 | 28
    Last edited by Thucar; 07-30-2017 at 03:04 AM.
    EU Hardiness Zone 5-6

  9. #28
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    Geauga, Ohio
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    400

    Default Re: I finally have bees!

    Winter prep - the bees will arrange their incoming nectar/honey and brood as they see fit. Ooops, I am assuming your entrance is on the narrow side, so there is no way to store honey on both sides of the hive body relative to the entrance. If that's the case, the only beekeeper intervention I do is 1) feed if no nectar is coming in during a late summer dearth, if they don't have stores, and 2) take partial combs in the honey area ONLY and make sure they are not in the middle of completed combs. So, I want the completed combs to make a "sphere" with the most complete all together then tapering to smaller combs as we get to the end of the hive (away from the brood nest). Last year I had a number of partial honey/nectar combs between fully drawn ones so I had some shuffling to do.

    For numbers of combs to have, it is difficult to compare the langstroth/upright hive and top bar hive situations. A langstroth hive that is 5 frames of brood and 5 frames of honey can survive the winter here in Ohio (lows in the -20 C rarely, and weeks below freezing). It is called a nuc hive.

    I have had 2 top bar hives survive with 5 bars covered in bees in fall and 6 bars of honey - and they did not finish all the honey. Italian race bees have a reputation for needing more honey, because they raise brood earlier and stop later relative to other races. I do not have Italians. So that is another difficulty with comparing bee survival.

    As a quick calculation, I look for as many honey bars (not nectar, but honey) come late summer/early fall as there are bees covering combs. That seems to work well for me. In early fall, which is late Sept, I can feed sugar syrup if comb is empty- but they will not draw out comb usually, just store it in comb already made.

    This time of year, for a late starting hive, you want the bees to make as much comb and as many bees as possible so they have a lot of nurse bees to raise their special "winter bees". The bees that emerge in Sept ideally should not forage or feed larvae - they conserve their resources so they can last the winter. If there are not enough older bees, the winter bees will have to chip in. Feeding larvae and foraging is what shortens bee life to 2 months - if those activities are not done they bees live from August to late March (which is where feeding larvae/spring foraging starts and ends their life).

    If the bees do not have the hive nearly full of drawn comb, then by offering sugar syrup that is 1 part sugar to 1 part water you will prevent any dearth from stopping comb production (and bee production). To get comb drawn, it is important to not have any break in the supply of sugar syrup - or the bees will try to just store it and possibly block the brood nest and prevent more bees from being produced.

    So feeding is tricky business potentially - it can lead to the brood nest being filled with sugar syrup - but done continuously it can ensure there will be enough comb drawn out to optimize winter storage.

    Having said that, I want my hives to draw out more comb and they are determined to store all nectar in what was brood comb - their instincts are to start contracting the brood nest and storing for winter. So I will be simulating a nectar flow for those hives that are only 1/2 full of drawn comb. The ones that have at least 3/4 full of drawn comb will be watched to be sure they are able to store enough for the winter, so less feeding hopefully. It does take time!

    Good luck and happy bee watching...

  10. #29
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Koeru, Järvamaa, Estonia
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    84

    Default Re: I finally have bees!

    Thank you TrishB! My bees are local mutts. They look like Apis Mellifera Mellifera or Carniolans judging by the pictures. They look a lot smaller than the bees I see on youtube. Well, except for the drones - they are twice th size of the workers.

    The hive is about 3/4 drawn out, or close to. So I'll be keeping a close eye on their stores throughout August and start feeding in September if I see them not finding enough nectar on their own.
    EU Hardiness Zone 5-6

  11. #30
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    Mar 2017
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    Koeru, Järvamaa, Estonia
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    Default Re: I finally have bees!

    Inspection 8 - the most stressful inspection to date after installing the bees. The one and only goal was to do a sugar roll. I went in knowing I would stress the girls and most likely get stung. So I jumped every time one of them landed on my hands. I guess I should have gone in with a bit more protection this time than just my T-shirt. The girls were absolute angels though. I did get one to sting me, but that had more to do with me jumping and shooing them off my hands than anything else. I picked 2 full combs of brood for collecting the donors. One was in the final stages of emerging - mostly emerged, few capped cells and few in process of emerging. The other comb was 1/3 capped brood and 2/3 open brood. So my thought process was that I should get a lot of the freshly emerged bees who were cleaning the cells from the first comb, and slightly older nurse bees from the second one.

    All in all, I got close to 100ml of bees in the jar - maybe not exactly 100ml but close. And after rolling them for 1 minute, letting them sit in the shade for 3-4 and shaking the sugar out from the jar quite vigorously for another 30 seconds, I did not have one single mite to show for my efforts. Considering they were a swarm that just had its first batch of brood emerge, I guess it's quite normal.

    At least I'm happy to know they have one less thing to worry about going into the fall and winter.

    I did notice they have slowed down their comb building considerably. The 4 extra bars I gave them last time had not been touched but they were continuing to work on the half-drawn ones which were closer to fully drawn now.

    I do see them foraging actively on a daily basis still and after doing some research I found that there should be things producing nectar around here until mid September. So I'm waiting to see how things progress over the month of August and feed in September if I really need to.
    EU Hardiness Zone 5-6

  12. #31
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Reedsport, OR
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    186

    Default Re: I finally have bees!

    You seem to want to wiggle those bars sideways. Dangerous! Use a little prybar to pry up both ends gently if they're sticky, don't wiggle side to side, then use the same tool to pry the bar away from its' neighbor and slide it back, keeping the bar flat to the sides. Rotate the bars end over end if you want to turn them upside down to see the other side, but only AFTER they're a bit older and firmer.

    You WILL break off comb if you flub and do the sideways flip, think of the unsupported weight of the comb. Pretty doable end over end, though, just be cautious. If it's very warm where you are, try to do your manipulations when it's cool in the am or evening to lessen the chance of soft comb causing oopses.

    And don't let langstroth beeks play with your bars, they WILL snap off comb. ;-)

    You WILL get wonky comb without good triangular or other guides, bees will just build where they want. String is useless and will just fall off.

    Board won't let me upload a pic for some reason... Drat!

  13. #32
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    Mar 2017
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    Koeru, Järvamaa, Estonia
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    Default Re: I finally have bees!

    Video of my sugar roll test process
    EU Hardiness Zone 5-6

  14. #33
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    Mar 2017
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    Koeru, Järvamaa, Estonia
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    Default Re: I finally have bees!

    Inspection 9 - so far so good. They are still furiously rearing brood so there must be resources out there for them. At least two bars of previously hatched brood have new larvae in them almost ready to be capped. Still struggling to get a good idea about their winter stores, as most of the honey and pollen is on the top halves of brood combs. Only the last two partial combs are all nectar and some capped honey without any brood at the bottom of the comb.

    Since my full time job is programming smart homes and I'm also a geek and a tinkerer, I've been working on adding the hive data to my smart home. I've been testing a solar powered sensor set for the hive. It consists of a number of temperature sensors, a humidity sensor and 4 load cells. At this point I still need to come up with a way to install the load cells and temp sensors so they would be of actual use.

    the temp sensors are with stainless steel shells, like this: onewiretempsensor.jpg so I was thinking of drilling matching holes in the top bars and just stick them in there so they extend about 10mm inside the hive. Was thinking 3 temp sensors like that. One at each end and one in the middle. Could do up to 5. The humidity sensor is a bit trickier. It's this one: 41B9nELPzEL._SY355_.jpg I'm worried the bees will propolise it or build comb on it but we'll just have to wait and see. Anyhow, was thinking of having it stuck to the follower board inside the hive.

    The load cells is the hardest part. I'm going to have to come up with some sort of enclosure for each of the four cells and then place them under the hive legs in a way that the hive still remains stable.

    All in all I'm hoping this set of sensors will help me keep an eye on things over the winter and get a better idea of what they are and when are they doing it, next season.
    EU Hardiness Zone 5-6

  15. #34
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    Mar 2017
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    Koeru, Järvamaa, Estonia
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    84

    Default Re: I finally have bees!

    Inspection 10 shows that they have completely stopped drawing out new comb. They are also filling the used brood comb at the end of the hive with nectar - so they are thinking of witer, which is good. They are still rearing brood on about 10 frames, there was brood in all ages from egg to emerging. All of those brood combs have a strip of pollen and a wide strip of capped honey on top. When judging how much stores they need, and going by figures like "you need X frames of honey for Y frames of brood", do I ignore the stores on the brood frames?
    EU Hardiness Zone 5-6

  16. #35
    Join Date
    May 2017
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    Arlington Hts, IL
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    Default Re: I finally have bees!

    thucar,

    I read and see many different opinions of how much honey is needed. One consistent item is the hive size will decrease and they will use areas previously used for brood to store honey, like you say.

    As for number of bars, I have heard anywhere from 40lbs, or about 6-8 bars, to 20 bars (from the guy who supplied my bees).

    How to judge, then, I don't know. One thing that is starting to make sense is to wait until spring to harvest.

  17. #36
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    Mar 2017
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    Koeru, Järvamaa, Estonia
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    Default Re: I finally have bees!

    Corto, see this is where I'm having trouble - you mention 6 to 20 bars. Is this full honey bars or is it "a total of 20 bars, including the brood nest?"

    I'm no planning on taking a drop of honey from the ladies until I'm absolutely positive it is a surplus. I'm keeping a close eye on their stores fr the remainder of August and in September I'll have to decide if they need additional feeding or not. Right now we have goldenrod and heather blooming, so they still have resources to gather.
    EU Hardiness Zone 5-6

  18. #37
    Join Date
    May 2017
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    Arlington Hts, IL
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    Default Re: I finally have bees!

    When I mention those bars, I do mean full capped honey bars, and am not including strips on top of the brood. At least that is how I understand it generally meant.

    I currently have 19 total bars, about 9-10 brood and 9-10 mostly capped honey. So I "think" they are reasonably prepared for winter according to most estimates I see, except for the one outlier who said 20 bars. That seems excessive, and maybe misunderstood, his first language is not English.

  19. #38
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Denver Metro Area CO, USA
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    1,763

    Default Re: I finally have bees!

    One thing that is starting to make sense is to wait until spring to harvest
    That depends, if the hive needs space, it needs space. Last year I had a swarm fill the hive and swarm in 2 mouths.

  20. #39
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    Geauga, Ohio
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    Default Re: I finally have bees!

    Last year, I had 4 hives. They are essentially long Langstroth in dimensions, so my comb is bigger than a kenyan comb. By mid Oct, after frost, they all had about 5-6 bars covered with bees (no brood), and 6-7 bars of capped honey. 2 survived the winter fine, used barely any honey. The other 2 died from too small due to queenlessness, or to receiving a mite bomb from robbing another hive that was dying of mites (my theory - no mite frass/poops on the roof of the combs. google it if unsure of what that is). The ones that died had used barely any honey.

    I think the balance between the size of the brood nest and the amount of honey is pretty important - just a guess though. I know that too few bees by frost is doom for the hive. Too few is an interesting question - there needs to be at least 3-4 combs covered in winter bees, is my guess, not just the fall bees who will die soon. So that means the hive needed to be large enough by Sept that the youngest sisters did not have to forage or feed any brood.

    Good luck, hope this helps, keep us posted!

  21. #40
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    Geauga, Ohio
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    400

    Default Re: I finally have bees!

    Just read the rest of the posts - very intrigued about the temp probe. I have toyed with temp sensors, but I will be using something what this person did for temp and humidity:
    "I2C based HTU21D breakout sensor board. I covered the HTU21D board in PTFE tape. " I want something like 30 sensors at varying heights and distances from the brood nest.

    link:
    http://makezine.com/projects/bees-se...r-hive-health/

    For the scale - is it possible to have 2 bases with scales, with each base holding 2 legs? That's pretty expensive though. Top bar hives have a much longer base, so we can't just put a scale under the whole thing...

    Keep us posted!

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