I stink at bee keeping
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
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    Syracuse, UT
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    198

    Default I stink at bee keeping

    Lost 4/5 hive in Jan of 2017. In the spring I bought four queens and did a split (too much splitting I'm sure) and the next week it got real cold and they all died. I didn't do anything more and lost the last hive. Over the summer they all got infested with wax moths. When I found out, it was a major mess so I just closed it all up and didn't let them escape. I'm cleaning them up today and what a mess! Most of the wax is all gone. I'm taking a cement trowel to the frames and scraping most of the mess out. I think I've made every mistake a bee keeper can make. I'm ordering two packages this spring and will start over. My wife is getting tired of me spending money on bees! Me too. I think varroa got them last winter even though I treated with oxylic acid. In Northern Utah.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    camden, tennessee, USA
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    303

    Default Re: I stink at bee keeping

    Don't be discouraged. One of the first rules of beekeeping is at some point you will lose bees. Just hopefully not all of them.

    Is there a local bee club that you could partner with in the area? An experienced mentor is a very comforting lifeline when confronted with hive problems. Honestly, I have made all those mistakes just not catastrophically. The wax moth damage is ugly but as many will attest to here "the bees don't mind". The only negative that I have seen with it is that some of the nooks and crannies are hiding places for hive beetles.

    I don't know how long you have been keeping bees but it sounds like you already know how to make splits. You already have all the equipment - possibly in need of foundation. Bees are not cheap but with a little luck and persistence, you should be able to get back to where your crash happened in a season or two.

    Good Luck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
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    Sandpoint, ID, USA
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    1,138

    Default Re: I stink at bee keeping

    If you think beekeeping is expensive now...

    5 years in. I woulda been better off buying honey instead of trying to get it myself. With the several thousands I've spent...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Indiana, Clay County
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    739

    Default Re: I stink at bee keeping

    blamb61:
    Don't throw in the towel. A friend and I were going to get into beekeeping 12yrs ago together. He had 40 acres with about 2 acres of blackberries. He ended getting transferred out of state and I went ahead and bought the bees. I had asked for a smoker and jacket from Santa Claus the previous Christmas. I am still here got attached and intrigued by the little critters and learned a lot along the way. Start taking notes, observe and set a yearly budget that you observe; find out what works for you and your very local area. It is a journey

    regards
    Brad

    And yes I once 2 was wiped clean by wax moths
    Dad always said " Smart like tractor, strong like bull "

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
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    frederick, md
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    806

    Default Re: I stink at bee keeping

    Last summer was our 4th summer with bees, the first time we felt we sort of knew what to do. Had a great harvest!

    This winter is the first winter we did not lose one hive. All 18 alive and well. Last OAV treatment early December.

    Hang in there....... the first two summers we felt totally lost!
    Zone 6b: 18 hives in Maryland, Carniolan, Italian mix mutts: Still learning - started bees spring of 2014.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    Great Falls Montana
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    7,786

    Default Re: I stink at bee keeping

    Sounds like you tried to soar like wn eagle before you knew how to walk. I have visions of invulnerability and adequacy myself at times. Back to the basics. No silly faddish screened bottom board. Reduce entrance. BTU's make bees.

    Get two nucs. Hive them, feed them. Only inspect until you find eggs then get out.

    Feed the bees. Get those brood boxes drawn.

    Equalize your two colonies by switching their locations if one lags behind. Do this when they are actively flying and this strengthens the weaker safely.

    When the first brood box has bees working on seven or eight frames its time draw a second hive body or super.

    In August treat for mites! Sounds like you have a vaporizer. Treat three times five or six days apart.

    Feed the bees if they are not heavy for winter.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
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    Syracuse, UT
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    198

    Default Re: I stink at bee keeping

    Thanks for the comments all. I think I know how to walk a little but am mostly lazy and don't walk enough!

    I'm taking the opportunity to change things up quite a bit. I cleaned out all the hives and took the plastic foundation out of the frames and cleaned them up but still have work to do to clean the frames. I hope to never repeat that. That was a serious mess. The chickens loved it!

    1. I think I'm going to cut all my deeps down to mediums. i don't like lifting full deeps and I do want all same size frames.
    2. I think I'm going to manage the hives Warre style a little bit. I'm planning on going foundationless.
    3. I think I will not harvest in the summer or fall and then will take what they have produced about by 1st of May and put that on the very bottom and then will put a super on top for comb honey. I'm hoping the stuff I put on the bottom that has already been collected and what they are bringing in will be transferred up above to make comb honey. At about 1st of July I hope to harvest the comb honey and will harvest the wax on the lowest box that should be empty of honey by then (I want to rotate wax and will have the bottom box being empty to rotate up and eventually be built out. I will let them keep whatever they bring in after that for the winter and the next years harvest.
    4. I think I will treat with the powdered sugar and essential oils and not with anything that I don't want to harvest the honey with. I know I will run a higher risk of death by mites but want to give this a try.

    I still have some supers with plastic foundation and comb that has never had brood in it. I'm trying to decided if I am going to toss that and let them start from scratch or let them use it to get a good start. One of the reasons I want to go foundationless is to try to get smaller cell size and hopefully help with mite reduction by doing that so I'm hesitant to use that good comb.

    I may feed them once when I first put them in just to keep them in place and then I'm not going to feed them anymore unless they need it for the winter.

    I have 15-deeps I can cut down and I also have 13 mediums so after cutting down the deeps, I would put about 4-meds/hive with the one more on top of each for the comb honey production and have about 3-spares around to handle a swarm or just to help harvest. I plan on having 5-hives which is the legal amount for my yard size where I live.

    I will probably have a bottom that I can convert from screened to covered. I will use a quilt on top also for moisture control. I will probably only use bottom entrances. I like bottom entrances where the box overhangs the bottom board so no rain or anything like that can get in and also I think it is easier for them to discard dead bees (is harder to observe them though). I made some horizontal langstroth hives doing that and really liked that.

    I've got to decide since I'm getting two packages on April 15th. Any thoughts?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2002
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    San Mateo, CA
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    6,747

    Default Re: I stink at bee keeping

    Quote Originally Posted by blamb61 View Post
    1. I think I'm going to cut all my deeps down to mediums. i don't like lifting full deeps and I do want all same size frames.

    Mistake. Bees brood better in larger frames. Put handle cleats on all your boxes so that they are easier to lift.

    2. I think I'm going to manage the hives Warre style a little bit. I'm planning on going foundationless.

    Mistake. The secret of high production modern beekeeping is all worker foundation. Foundationless is a drone comb mite factory.

    3. I think I will not harvest in the summer or fall and then will take what they have produced about by 1st of May

    Mistake. Overwintered honey can absorb moisture and ferment.

    4. I think I will treat with the powdered sugar and essential oils

    Mistake. Proven ineffective methods for mite control.

    I still have some supers with plastic foundation and comb that has never had brood in it. I'm trying to decided if I am going to toss that
    I want to go foundationless is to try to get smaller cell size and hopefully help with mite reduction by doing that so I'm hesitant to use that good comb.

    Mistake. Foundationless is mystic hocus pocus promoted by Gurus to sell books and lecture series.

    I may feed them once when I first put them in just to keep them in place and then I'm not going to feed them anymore unless they need it for the winter.

    you got one right so far.


    I will probably have a bottom that I can convert from screened to covered. I will use a quilt on top also for moisture control. I will probably only use bottom entrances. I like bottom entrances where the box overhangs the bottom board so no rain or anything like that can get in and also I think it is easier for them to discard dead bees (is harder to observe them though).

    Bingo. another right one.

    I've got to decide since I'm getting two packages on April 15th. Any thoughts?
    Don't believe everything you read on Beesource promoted by Gurus and Newbees.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
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    Kirksville, Missouri USA
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    Default Re: I stink at bee keeping

    blamb61, you have to learn to answer the question "why" to everything. First, why did your hives die? It wasn't wax moths. They just come in and take advantage after the bees are weakened and dying. Then there's the question of why are you planning to do all the things you list you are going to do. You seem to be moving along not really knowing why something happened and why you want to change everything. The bees didn't die because of having deeps. They didn't die because you are using foundation. They didn't die because you weren't using Warre style hives. They didn't die because you weren't using essential oils and powdered sugar. You even are considering tossing perfectly good comb for a 'fresh start'. Why?

    Don't go about changing things without knowing what went wrong and only change if you clearly understand why. The things you are planning are most likely going to make things harder. I also wouldn't recommend packages. It sounds like they have a high failure rate for beginners.

    I am not writing this to be rude or mean. I am just trying to help. You need to answer the most important question that comes up in keeping bees. Why? I could be wrong, but it doesn't sound like you are doing that, and you may have identified your main issue. You admit you're lazy about beekeeping. They take diligence and ambition sometimes even when you don't feel like doing what is necessary. There are things that demand immediate action once in a while. Success doesn't come easy most of the time.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
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    Syracuse, UT
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    198

    Default Re: I stink at bee keeping

    Quote Originally Posted by DanielD View Post
    blamb61, you have to learn to answer the question "why" to everything. First, why did your hives die? It wasn't wax moths. They just come in and take advantage after the bees are weakened and dying. Then there's the question of why are you planning to do all the things you list you are going to do. You seem to be moving along not really knowing why something happened and why you want to change everything. The bees didn't die because of having deeps. They didn't die because you are using foundation. They didn't die because you weren't using Warre style hives. They didn't die because you weren't using essential oils and powdered sugar. You even are considering tossing perfectly good comb for a 'fresh start'. Why?

    Don't go about changing things without knowing what went wrong and only change if you clearly understand why. The things you are planning are most likely going to make things harder. I also wouldn't recommend packages. It sounds like they have a high failure rate for beginners.

    I am not writing this to be rude or mean. I am just trying to help. You need to answer the most important question that comes up in keeping bees. Why? I could be wrong, but it doesn't sound like you are doing that, and you may have identified your main issue. You admit you're lazy about beekeeping. They take diligence and ambition sometimes even when you don't feel like doing what is necessary. There are things that demand immediate action once in a while. Success doesn't come easy most of the time.
    I know I need to determine the cause of the bees demise, but the changes I want to make are changes I wish I would have started with. Lots of folks have gone over to mediums. That is the only thing there is no going back if I change. Lots of people also rotate the wax and go small cell size to fight mites. I don't think any of that is too radical. I also know the wax moths didn't kill the bees, they were just an unfortunate result of not taking care of things quick enough. I want to use the essential oils because I may harvest from any box and don't want junk in the honey. Same reason I'm not going to feed them a lot because I don't want honey made from sugar water in there also. I've kept bees for about 6-yrs i think and have overwintered them, just not this last year. My success rate is not good though and I do need to pay closer attention. Thanks for the input. I've not had problems with a new package making it through the winter usually, it is the next years bees I struggle with. I will try being on top of things more but I think the changes I'm trying to make wont hurt either since a lot of others seem to have adopted those practices also.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
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    Sandpoint, ID, USA
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    Default Re: I stink at bee keeping

    I concur with odfrank...

  12. #12
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    Feb 2015
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    Rosebud Missouri
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    Default Re: I stink at bee keeping

    I mostly concur with odd frank but have a few differrences. I believe him on bigger brood nest but still would not give up being all mediums cause I am a weakling, find it easier to find 1x8s to build stuff with then I do finding 1x12s and like everything being the same size. So it may not work best but it is the best compermize for me.

    I like foundationless because I am a cheep guy and can build it all myself but if I had foundation already, I would use it.

    I think danial had good advice and that vance G had real good advice even though I don't live by it.

    I think that ambition to split everything right when you get it is maby not the way to go if you have had your hives not live. I would want to get my stuff big and strong for winter so I had something left come spring to play with. You may have no choice to split then but it would be because the bees made you more then your ambition.

    I am one of those newbees that odfrank mentions and so keep that in mind. Look at vance's post one more time would be my best advice.
    Cheers, and good luck.
    gww
    zone 5b

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
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    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
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    2,070

    Default Re: I stink at bee keeping

    Just going into my third year so I will not give you any definitive advice, but will make an observation. You admit that you were not attentive enough to your bees and if you implement your new plans you are just making things harder on yourself and setting yourself up for more frustration and failure. Stick to the basics for a few years and if you are successful, try the various methods you seem interested in. Best of luck, J

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Aylett, Virginia
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    Default Re: I stink at bee keeping

    Blamb61, have you even read a beekeeping book or attended beekeeping classes? Every one of your plans for this year seems as if it came straight from multiple different Youtube sources. Odfrank, vanceg and danield are all correct. There is no magic combination of new age beekeeping tactics that will lead to success. Get a mentor to keep you from continuing down your poor beekeeping path. You think you lost your hives due to mites and the best corrective action you can come up with is powdered sugar dusting and essential oils? Seriously? And earlier you took a presumably weak hive and split it FOUR ways in the beginning of spring? These are not rookie mistakes. They are mistakes made by someone who has been misled with bad information. Beekeeping can be fun and rewarding but there is some work involved. Education is important too. Get a copy of "Beekeeping for Dummies" and read it. Next, post on Beesource before you do something (like an aggressive split too early in the season). We all want you to succeed.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
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    Syracuse, UT
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    Default Re: I stink at bee keeping

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    Blamb61, have you even read a beekeeping book or attended beekeeping classes? Every one of your plans for this year seems as if it came straight from multiple different Youtube sources. Odfrank, vanceg and danield are all correct. There is no magic combination of new age beekeeping tactics that will lead to success. Get a mentor to keep you from continuing down your poor beekeeping path. You think you lost your hives due to mites and the best corrective action you can come up with is powdered sugar dusting and essential oils? Seriously? And earlier you took a presumably weak hive and split it FOUR ways in the beginning of spring? These are not rookie mistakes. They are mistakes made by someone who has been misled with bad information. Beekeeping can be fun and rewarding but there is some work involved. Education is important too. Get a copy of "Beekeeping for Dummies" and read it. Next, post on Beesource before you do something (like an aggressive split too early in the season). We all want you to succeed.
    I've read some books and no I didn't do stuff based on bad advice. I dreamed up the bad advise myself mostly! I have done successful splits and successfully raised queens in the past. I just took a chance and failed. I have reasons to not be aggressive with the pesticides etc with treating them even if there is more mortality (I want to be able to harvest from any box). I have studied some and will study more. Thanks

  16. #16
    Join Date
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    Default Re: I stink at bee keeping

    Foundation and foundationless both work. Foundationless is cheaper and kind of interesting, but foundation is more productive and easier in the end. I have done both. There are hardliners on both sides so just do what you want, but foundation would be a gain for you right now.

    Off of what gww mentioned, yes you probably split way too much and too small, and it sounds like too early. Don't think of a lot of splits, but strong ones to elevate the potential for success. Why did they die when it got cold? Probably because they were too small, and/or no food to sustain them since they couldn't fly.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
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    Johnson County, Missouri, USA
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    15

    Default Re: I stink at bee keeping

    The best advice is to get with a local beekeeping club. A lot of problems you experienced will also have been experienced by other beekeepers in your area. If your club offers mentoring, that is invaluable. Best of luck- hang in there! The worst is behind you.

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