Caught a swarm end of Sept and Now what?
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  1. #1
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    Default Caught a swarm end of Sept and Now what?

    Hi my name is Theresa, and I am in Upstate NY Finger Lakes area,
    So I had a swarm land in my peach tree and since I had thought about getting into bees for a few years, I decided to catch them myself. I have a niece in law who's grandfather has bees and he loaned me a hive so I could catch them.

    Not sure why a hive would choose this time of year to swarm when I am told they need like 40 pounds of honey to get them through a winter. I have purchased a top feeder which they haven't as yet shown any interest in and 20 pounds of bee patty for when it gets too cold for the liquid feed.

    I wish I had known that where you release them is where they will stay as I just set the hive under the tree and let them go in, (after cutting the branch and spreading diluted honey on top of the frames) Now I am very slowly moving them about 15 feet away as I can't have them stay under the peach tree. Would make it very difficult to get to the peaches next year.

    Anyhoo, I did a brief inspection, on too cold a day so had enough smarts to just check things quickly to see how many frames were bare (notice not enough smarts to understand that I risked the brood getting too cold. thought it would be a good idea to see just how many bees I had since being cold they would mostly all be inside)
    All I know is there were lots of bees, I some some comb being made and a heavy mass of bees in the middle, was told that was the bees trying to keep the brood warm. Oops
    I also saw one moth which I killed, and a half a dozen little beetles.

    My question is I am not sure if I should set a second hive up for the winter or not. and if I do does it go over the original or on the bottom. Everything I read indicate over, but I am sure my bee friend who is knowledgeable enough to be president of the local bee club in the past, said to put the new hive on the bottom. thank you in advance for your support

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Caught a swarm end of Sept and Now what?

    Hope for a warm fall.
    You've got a tough job to get them through winter. Apple cider vinegar does seem to get them to take syrup faster, doesn't take much but I forget how much. A jar or can directly on the frames with a box over as a cover will help more than the top feeder.
    Try the bee patty now. No I would not go for the 2nd hive unless it is strong and you plan on it as your first next spring. At least you are getting comb.

    How far you can move a hive depends on the background, in the middle of a field, quite a bit. Even with the tree as a focal pint 3 feet at once is no problem. You want to move it towards a sheltered spot, not conveyance. Move it where you want it next spring.
    It is not true that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
    They can learn them, they just can't do them.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Caught a swarm end of Sept and Now what?

    do you have a garden shed or garage with window where they could spend the winter instead? I doubt they will have enough time to process enough syrup for adequate winter stores in NY. If they are positioned inside the shed with entrance facing out the slightly opened window, they will have a buffer from the bitter cold wind and can continue to move about and keep working the syrup.

    Michael Palmer in VT overwinters 5 frame over 5 frame nucs, but his preparation for those starts much earlier than Sept. I don't think I read how big the box is that you have them in. 10 frame, deep? 8 frame, medium?...

    This photo is from the president of one of the local clubs. He just picked up a swarm on Friday that is small. This is his shop where the bees will spend the winter. (mild winters here in VA) 42756622_2135970683388890_6809588231680557056_o.jpg

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Caught a swarm end of Sept and Now what?

    Thank you everyone,
    They are currently in a 10 frame deep, and yes if I put the second 10 frame deep on it would be for their use.

    They are finally taking the syrup, and fortunately our area is due for frost for at least another two weeks.

    Also I leave a mile up from Cayuga Lake and we are just below the snow belt and our winters have been very mild lately. I also live on a property that is divided by three levels of rock layers and the bees are situated in front on one with the North wind behind them. I can even keep Gladiola's in the ground year round. BUT I do like the shed idea and have something that would work for a season, it's made out of particle board so won't last, but I was going to toss it anyway.

    I am hoping to check inside today or tomorrow and really asses their situation. I haven't had a chance to do that since I caught them 3 weeks ago, except very briefly and I did see them making comb. I will try to take some pictures.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Caught a swarm end of Sept and Now what?

    Be careful, you may end up with a couple dozen hives in a few years. I started my latest hives from nothing after catching a swarm in mid September. The next year I turned them into 5 and another swarm caught. The next year I turned them into 20........

    I took that first swarm and fed them steadily and they doubled in a month and a half when winter set in. Then I put them in an old basement that stayed around 40 degrees most of the winter. They didn't have much honey stored, and were in an 8 frame single box, but I put a 2" shim on top and a sugar block. They survived very well on that sugar. I don't know what kind of bee patties you have, but they only need sugar to winter.

    I have done several small colonies like that in that old house with 100% success for a couple more years. The house sometimes dips in the high 20s but works great. Even a garage could work, like others have written. I kept them screened in just in case of a warmup. When there's a warm spell with flying weather, I did carry them outside to fly and put them at their summer location for that warm time.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Caught a swarm end of Sept and Now what?

    I don't know what kind of bee patties you have, but they only need sugar to winter.

    for right now: While they are making wax the patties will supplement the pollen. If brooding, pattie will let them work the syrup a little more.
    It is not true that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
    They can learn them, they just can't do them.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Caught a swarm end of Sept and Now what?

    theresalynn,

    Sounds like a good plan. I would not give them a 2nd box until the first is very near drawn. Warmer in a small space. If you can get drawn comb from someone that is a different story.
    If they do not get all frames drawn fill them space with insulation or a board.
    Let us know what you find in the inspection.
    It is not true that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
    They can learn them, they just can't do them.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Caught a swarm end of Sept and Now what?

    I am in upstate NY, too (north of Albany.)

    Late swarms are chancy if you don't have the critical resources to give them: drawn combs, both empty and filled. Which of course you won't have as a new beekeeper.

    Here are some basic tips:

    NEVER feed them any honey except from your own disease-free hives. Honey is a prime way to transfer brood diseases into your colony which is a very serious problem. And honey that's safe for humans to eat often can contain spores of the worst disease ,American Foul Brood. Feed them only granulated white sugar (liquid or solid form) or winter patty. Your use of honey as a lure, while well meaning, may have put them at risk. But it's done. I just wanted to make sure you know about the problem and won't repeat it by giving them honey again.

    You can pull frames and inspect when the temps are over about 65 F, and there is no wind. But there is little need to inspect, and some risk to the queen,. Next spring, when you could fix the problem of an injured queen, you can inspect more frequently to learn the skills of frame manipulation. If you have ever seen evidence of brood, that's all you need to know for the rest of the year: that the swarm is queen-right and the queen is laying.

    Do not add another box this season. They won't fill it and it will be just empty chilling space.

    You will be lucky if they have time to fill more than a modest number of combs in the first box.

    I would recommend reducing the space in the box even further by removing some undrawn frames and replacing them with wood follower boards and then foam insulation spacers to take up the empty space. In effect tailoring the cavity size to the size of the colony and the amount of combs they have drawn. I will help you figure out how to do this, if you'd like.

    You can also apply insulation panels to outside of the box.

    For now, get a piece of 1" foam insulation (you can buy 2' x 2' project panels at Lowes or Home Depot.) Cut it to fit tightly up into the telescoping cover. This will help keep them warm at night now and can be left in permanently. To get the measurements right, take the cover off and replace it with some temporary solid material (cardboard, plywood, plastic political sign material) to keep the heat in the hive while you fabricate the panel.

    When you go out to replace the cover, pop off the inner cover (the one with round or oval hole in the middle) and count the number of undrawn frames that you see. You don't have to pull any frames, just look down from the top. Then get the IC back on and add the newly insulated telecover.

    From your comments I assume you have a second box and the frames that would go in it, right? Using those frames and the box, determine how much space needs to be filled if you remove the unused frames from the box with the bees in it. Post back and I will help you get a space-reducing project underway.

    Keep feeding them. If it gets chilly at night feed them only what they will take in a day and give them fresh and slightly warm syrup every morning. What kind of a feeder do you have?

    Get the entrance reducer in and leave it open only with the small notch clear.

    Get a small piece of 1/2" mesh hardware cloth about 4 " x 18" to make a mouse guard to go over the entrance - you'll need thumb tacks, too. The best ones are large and nickel coated and sold at Home Depot (not Lowes.)

    I would also buy (and install) a robbing screen, since if you plan to eke out the feeding season as long as you can eventually your small weak hive will be the game in town and other nearby bees will try to rob it out. That will be fatal to your colony.

    Wintering them in a shed is one solution but it is not as simple as it may seem.

    Moving bees is best done in one fell swoop (not the staged moves, which being 15 feet are as difficult on them as moving them 50 feet. Repeated, short moves of 2 - 3 feet are OK.) But if you a considering moving them to a shed for the winter and if it is not closer to where you would like to have them next summer, stop moving while you decide what to do.

    The bees don't need 40 lbs of honey (which would be six or seven fully capped deep frames) they may need even more. So you see what the challenge is for these bees.

    But you can help by continuing to feed syrup for awhile longer than the natural supplies last. And by provisioning them through the winter, you may be able to get them through.

    There are two kinds of "bee patties" one is supplemental pollen and the other is winter patty, which is largely just carbohydrates. The latter is what they need during the winter. Supplemental pollen is harmful for the bees when they can't go out to poop. (Though a small amount of it now might be useful.)

    All of my bees came to me as swarms to my farm, so I am partial to swarms. I added a small new one last month. It has about half a box drawn and filled. But since I am an active beekeeper, I have resources from other hives to boost it up.

    Still, your swarm was lucky to choose your peach tree to cluster on, and luckier still to find a person who would step up and provide them with an initial home and help this first winter. Even if they don't survive, you have given them a much better chance at success than leaving them on their own.

    Nancy

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Caught a swarm end of Sept and Now what?

    Quote Originally Posted by DanielD View Post
    Be careful, you may end up with a couple dozen hives in a few years. I started my latest hives from nothing after catching a swarm in mid September. The next year I turned them into 5 and another swarm caught. The next year I turned them into 20........
    .
    LOL, yeah I am aware of the danger
    I am already keeping an eye out for used hives that people are selling reasonable. I keep just missing them. Obviously I am not the only one in the market

    I do have a 2" shim also that I will be using when I switch to the Bee Patties and I just noticed I have a Rubbermaid utility shed just outside the garden, I could easily move them in there and just leave the door propped open a bit

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Caught a swarm end of Sept and Now what?

    Quote Originally Posted by enjambres View Post
    I am in upstate NY, too (north of Albany.)

    Late swarms are chancy if you don't have the critical resources to give them: drawn combs, both empty and filled. Which of course you won't have as a new beekeeper.

    Here are some basic tips:

    NEVER feed them any honey except from your own disease-free hives. Honey is a prime way to transfer brood diseases into your colony which is a very serious problem. And honey that's safe for humans to eat often can contain spores of the worst disease ,American Foul Brood. Feed them only granulated white sugar (liquid or solid form) or winter patty. Your use of honey as a lure, while well meaning, may have put them at risk. But it's done. I just wanted to make sure you know about the problem and won't repeat it by giving them honey again.

    You can pull frames and inspect when the temps are over about 65 F, and there is no wind. But there is little need to inspect, and some risk to the queen,. Next spring, when you could fix the problem of an injured queen, you can inspect more frequently to learn the skills of frame manipulation. If you have ever seen evidence of brood, that's all you need to know for the rest of the year: that the swarm is queen-right and the queen is laying.

    Do not add another box this season. They won't fill it and it will be just empty chilling space.

    You will be lucky if they have time to fill more than a modest number of combs in the first box.

    I would recommend reducing the space in the box even further by removing some undrawn frames and replacing them with wood follower boards and then foam insulation spacers to take up the empty space. In effect tailoring the cavity size to the size of the colony and the amount of combs they have drawn. I will help you figure out how to do this, if you'd like.

    You can also apply insulation panels to outside of the box.

    For now, get a piece of 1" foam insulation (you can buy 2' x 2' project panels at Lowes or Home Depot.) Cut it to fit tightly up into the telescoping cover. This will help keep them warm at night now and can be left in permanently. To get the measurements right, take the cover off and replace it with some temporary solid material (cardboard, plywood, plastic political sign material) to keep the heat in the hive while you fabricate the panel.

    When you go out to replace the cover, pop off the inner cover (the one with round or oval hole in the middle) and count the number of undrawn frames that you see. You don't have to pull any frames, just look down from the top. Then get the IC back on and add the newly insulated telecover.

    From your comments I assume you have a second box and the frames that would go in it, right? Using those frames and the box, determine how much space needs to be filled if you remove the unused frames from the box with the bees in it. Post back and I will help you get a space-reducing project underway.

    Keep feeding them. If it gets chilly at night feed them only what they will take in a day and give them fresh and slightly warm syrup every morning. What kind of a feeder do you have?

    Get the entrance reducer in and leave it open only with the small notch clear.

    Get a small piece of 1/2" mesh hardware cloth about 4 " x 18" to make a mouse guard to go over the entrance - you'll need thumb tacks, too. The best ones are large and nickel coated and sold at Home Depot (not Lowes.)

    I would also buy (and install) a robbing screen, since if you plan to eke out the feeding season as long as you can eventually your small weak hive will be the game in town and other nearby bees will try to rob it out. That will be fatal to your colony.

    Wintering them in a shed is one solution but it is not as simple as it may seem.

    Moving bees is best done in one fell swoop (not the staged moves, which being 15 feet are as difficult on them as moving them 50 feet. Repeated, short moves of 2 - 3 feet are OK.) But if you a considering moving them to a shed for the winter and if it is not closer to where you would like to have them next summer, stop moving while you decide what to do.

    The bees don't need 40 lbs of honey (which would be six or seven fully capped deep frames) they may need even more. So you see what the challenge is for these bees.

    But you can help by continuing to feed syrup for awhile longer than the natural supplies last. And by provisioning them through the winter, you may be able to get them through.

    There are two kinds of "bee patties" one is supplemental pollen and the other is winter patty, which is largely just carbohydrates. The latter is what they need during the winter. Supplemental pollen is harmful for the bees when they can't go out to poop. (Though a small amount of it now might be useful.)

    All of my bees came to me as swarms to my farm, so I am partial to swarms. I added a small new one last month. It has about half a box drawn and filled. But since I am an active beekeeper, I have resources from other hives to boost it up.

    Still, your swarm was lucky to choose your peach tree to cluster on, and luckier still to find a person who would step up and provide them with an initial home and help this first winter. Even if they don't survive, you have given them a much better chance at success than leaving them on their own.

    Nancy
    Thank you Nancy. I so appreciate your taking the time to explain all of that.
    Well I did a bit of a panic, and quick checked to make sure what kind of patties I got, I did not know they made two different kinds. Fortunately I think I got the correct kind. They are called Bee-Pro Patties and I got them from Mann Lake, they also sell the supplemental pollen kind so I was just lucky that I ordered the correct one, whew, considering I order 20 pounds worth.

    I bought two mouse guards when I bought the bee patties, they didn't seem to like it so I took it off. I was wondering about just what to do with the bee reducer so thank you for mentioning that as well.

    And I will run to Lowes soon to see about getting that insulation for the top cover.

    The robbing screen is something I haven't heard of until now, I will have to do some research as to where to get one. I have Bumble Bees working the raspberries right close by, so far the Honey Bees haven't seemed much interested. Do I need to be concerned or is it only other Honey Bees that will try to rob the hive?

    The feeder I have is a 10 frame top feeder with super https://www.mannlakeltd.com/10-frame...der-with-super
    I also have 2 inch shims for when I start feeding them the patties.

    I would love to hear more about what you mean by a space reducing project, would I use the 2" Styrofoam cut the size of the frames?

    Again thanks so much for all your help,

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Caught a swarm end of Sept and Now what?

    Any idea what would make a hive swarm so late in the season, how on earth could they ever think they'd survive trying to set up a new hive the end of Sept??

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Caught a swarm end of Sept and Now what?

    Lots of possible reasons a hive would swarm late in the season. Mites, overcrowding, two queens laying, diseases, etc. Maybe they knew you would find them & help them out Sounds like the patties you have are mostly pollen, not the Pro Winter Patties, Mann lake sells. But, they can use those patties now to rear some brood.
    Please excuse me, I am now free to go manage & treat ;)
    my ladies the best way I know how.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Caught a swarm end of Sept and Now what?

    TheresaLynn,

    I am at work now, but will reply with more details when I get home.

    You're on the right track.

    Nancy

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Caught a swarm end of Sept and Now what?

    So I did a quick check, and have to say after watching tons of Youtube video's my frames do not look as neat as everything I've seen. LOTS of bees in the center three/four frames loaded, but what's on the frames looks a mess.

    For one thing one frame has comb built so far into the next frame that there is a dent of about an inch deep in the next frame.

    One frame was VERY heavy, so heavy I couldn't begin to lift it out with one hand. I didn't want to disturb things too much so just lifted it up maybe half an inch.
    I put the reducer on the front set to the one inch opening. Which turned out to be a good thing because the sugar feeder on top attracted yellow jackets. Seems the feeder was a little warped of the hive is, anyway the top was not fitting tightly and the yellow jackets were getting into the feeder (not the hive) I have since put a big ol' rock on it which holds it down nice and tight. Now they are trying to get in through the front door.

    I found some screen and will be making up a robbing screen, just need to get some of the tacks to hold it on. But they seem to be doing a fine job of protecting their hive.

    I am assuming that since they are protecting the hive then that means there is a queen in there??

    So the good news is in less than 3 weeks seems like they have filled one frame with honey. And they have at least two more weeks without a frost warning in sight. Plus I have added the Bee Pro Patty besides the syrup. But they don't seem to be doing anything with the syrup today, not sure if it's because they prefer the patty or because I added the inside cover.

    Should I remove the inside cover while the sugar feeder is on top? (it's a top feeder that fits on the top of the hive)

    I did a wax moth, second one I've seen. First one I was able to kill, this one flew out of the box. Should I be concerned?

    As always thank you in advance for your help and support

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Caught a swarm end of Sept and Now what?

    Yes, remove the inner cover when the feeder is on. Or if you leave it on, make sure any notch in the rim is securely covered to keep out robbers. Having the feeder closer to the bees will improve uptake, and maybe keep the syrup a little warmer.

    Defensiveness of the hive doesn't guarantee queenrightness. Only evidence of brood will do that, i.e. eggs, larval or capped brood. Can you identify those and have you seen them?

    To be effective a robbing screen has to have a sturdy frame on all for sides. The open-topped designs aren't effective enough to be worth the trouble, IMO.

    A full, capped frame of honey will weigh less 8, or at most, 9 pounds. Wait until you have to lift a whole box of them! I am an old lady, and my doctor's nurse told me I should buy five-lb hand weights to exercise with and keep my bone strength up. I cracked up because I am a beekeeper who uses 10-frame deeps as supers.

    Yellow jackets are pests, but they are not primarily after the syrup - they are carnivores and they are after the larvae.

    To have perfectly nice frames, you need to keep the frames pushed tightly together so that the little "ears" on the ends of the frames are smushed together tightly. That is if you are using foundation. if you are foundationless (open frames with nothing in the center of them) you can expect a round of misshapen, wonky combs until you get things squared away. I wouldn;' worry to much about it now. Shortly you won;t be doing any inspections and the bees will be left on their own to cope with whatever "mess" (from our point of view) they made. The real risk of non-straight, uneven, weird combs is that it hard to manipulate them safely, and thus they are a great risk to the queen. It may seem that each box has an immutable "set" of its own frames, but in fact you will always be buying new frames, moving some out of service for overhaul, etc. So if they have got off to a bad start this year, you can correct it in the spring. All you'll need is a supply of fresh frames and some determination to go do it. Next spring they will be wild to draw comb. Under the right circumstances they can draw nearly a box of deeps in a week's time.

    The two weeks left that they have to forage will not produce nectar or wax at the same rate. Keep feeding if they will take it. If your nights are cold (40s) the syrup may cool off too much for them. (They won't take syrup that's below 50 F.) The fix for that is warm syrup delivered every morning, and only as much as they will eat during the day and early evening. That way it isn't below their temperature uptake threshold.

    You are feeding 2:1 syrup, right?

    OK, I think that's all your questions tonight.

    So back to you'r earlier one about setting up a hive with internal insulation to reduce the size. The easiest foam to cut is 1", in multiple layers to take up as mush space as needed. This also makes things easier next spring.

    Which bee-box supplier are you using? Getting follower boards is easiest from the same supplier. Both MannLake and Betterbee sell FB, but you can't count on interchangablity between them.

    I will try to post a picture of what I am talking about, this weekend.

    Don't worry about asking questions - we love 'em!

    Nancy

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Caught a swarm end of Sept and Now what?

    I would ditch the top feeder and remove the inner cover. Inverted jars or pail with holes directly on the frames directly over the cluster, enclosed in an empty box. Stuffing the extra space with newspaper would not hurt. If you pull the empty frames out and slide the drawn frames out the side frames are likely empty of all but a little syrup. Those you can straighten a little bit now as you try to get close enough to the center to see brood. Not that comb shape or brood really matters this Fall, there is no practical cure for any problem.

    Experience is what you are gaining ( and maybe an overwintered hive).
    It is not true that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
    They can learn them, they just can't do them.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Caught a swarm end of Sept and Now what?

    Quote Originally Posted by enjambres View Post
    Defensiveness of the hive doesn't guarantee queenrightness. Only evidence of brood will do that, i.e. eggs, larval or capped brood. Can you identify those and have you seen them?
    I have going over all the pictures on the net I can find, but other than identifying pollen, I am not totally sure what I am looking at.

    And how you all spot a queen in that mass of bees is beyond me. Maybe my eyes just aren't good enough.

    I think I am going to have to see if I can find a local beekeeper who is willing to come by and explain what I am looking at. My other idea is next Tuesday when it hits 80 take each frame out and have my daughter take a good close up for me, then I can examine it and maybe show the group what I have and you all can tell me what is going on. lol

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Caught a swarm end of Sept and Now what?

    remove the inner cover when the feeder is on.

    You have a great feeder, but they tend to not want to come all the way up and over the lip when things are cold.

    If you aren't too overloaded with suggestions/opinions - you might consider feeding fondant on wax paper directly on the top of the frames. Until you can get or make some fondant you might even consider feeding straight sugar (1/2 cup at a time) on wax paper directly on the top of the frames. The bees will go for this even if it gets cold (50 degrees).

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Caught a swarm end of Sept and Now what?

    Just be careful that the shed isn't too dark and damp. I had my first hive in a shed (years ago). While they overwintered nicely the first year it was too dark and damp. My next attempt at beekeeping (with a master beekeeper as my mentor) had the hive outside with the shed blocking the prevailing winds. That is where they still are today, years later.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Caught a swarm end of Sept and Now what?

    Quote Originally Posted by arthurw View Post
    Just be careful that the shed isn't too dark and damp. I had my first hive in a shed (years ago). While they overwintered nicely the first year it was too dark and damp. My next attempt at beekeeping (with a master beekeeper as my mentor) had the hive outside with the shed blocking the prevailing winds. That is where they still are today, years later.
    Thank you, My concern has been that the shed would be too cold as it would not allow the sun to get to the hive. The place where I was going to put them has a rock embankment behind them, but gets a fair amount of morning sun. Maybe I should just stick to my original plan.

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