New Bee Keeper, New Colony, New Equipment - What Could Go Wrong?!
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
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    San Diego, CA, USA
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    Default New Bee Keeper, New Colony, New Equipment - What Could Go Wrong?!

    Hi! I'm brand new to this - so I'm very glad to find a forum of experts!

    The title is a bit tongue in cheek as I am actually trying to figure out what could go wrong - just to be(e) ahead of the game... Yesterday I transferred a wild colony from a cooler to a Langstroth Hive. Here is a picture of what the hive looked like in the cooler. Apparently it has been there for less than a week, which seemed to line up with the age of the larva I found. Nonetheless, that seems like a lot of comb for one week:
    DSC_0604.jpg

    I cut off the comb and stood them up in individual frames, like in the picture below. In some cases I doubled up the comb pieces into a single frame.
    DSC_0616.jpg

    I didn't find the queen, but the center of the comb shown in the picture above is filled with larva (uncapped), which would be evidence of her presence. There were also sections of pollen and uncapped honey/nectar:
    DSC_0607.jpg

    The whole colony was surprisingly calm and I didn't feel like they wanted to attack me (then again, I have no reference). I watched the few bees that did land on me and they weren't trying to sting me. I've not got them set up on the roof on my house on a stand, water next to them, and feel like I should be doing more for them....
    DSC_0617.jpg

    So, do I just leave them for two weeks before I check? Or is there something else I should be doing to prevent something from "going wrong"?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    England, UK
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    Default Re: New Bee Keeper, New Colony, New Equipment - What Could Go Wrong?!

    If I'm reading you right, then this is your first contact with bees ? If so, then I think you've done exceptionally well thus far.

    It might be a good idea to inspect those combs in a couple of day's time just to check whether any q/cells have been started - which would indicate that the queen got lost somewhere along the way. Hopefully you won't see any, and you can then sleep easy.

    Your roof location - is that going to be reasonably convenient for inspections ? And - seeing as you've apparently left space there for a second hive - will it be able to support several hundred pounds ok ? Must say it all looks very workman-like in those photos.

    One thing you could do right now - before anybody else mentions it - is to add a location to your user profile. As you will no doubt learn in due course, the location of an apiary can be central to any advice or suggestions ...

    Oh - I almost forgot - welcome aboard !
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
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    Lamar Co. Alabama, USA
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    4,137

    Default Re: New Bee Keeper, New Colony, New Equipment - What Could Go Wrong?!

    Welcome to Bee Source. I second little john's comments on your hiving of the bees from the cooler. Great photos too.
    "Sometimes the best action, with bees, is no action at all."

  5. #4

    Default Re: New Bee Keeper, New Colony, New Equipment - What Could Go Wrong?!

    Also, if you have a chance go to your profile and add a location. It will help folks give advice appropriate to where you are.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
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    Derry, New Hampshire
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    Default Re: New Bee Keeper, New Colony, New Equipment - What Could Go Wrong?!

    dang..........i'm sure you have been learning about bees already to be able to pull this off but if this is your first hive you're a natural. And if they were calm as you say you should try making more from them as they sound like nice bees.
    Terrence

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
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    Kirksville, Missouri USA
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    Default Re: New Bee Keeper, New Colony, New Equipment - What Could Go Wrong?!

    They could have spent a few days building comb and gathering pollen/nectar before laying, but swarms do build fast, at least to the size the current population can handle. In three weeks the colony numbers could grow fast once the first brood emerges. You're biggest possible 'go wrong' might be the combs being built where they would cross to an adjacent frame if you are using no foundation. Check them weekly to correct combs being built off the frame, if you have no foundation.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
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    San Diego, CA, USA
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    Default Re: New Bee Keeper, New Colony, New Equipment - What Could Go Wrong?!

    Thank you very much for the kind replies - I am glad to hear that I'm on the right track. It's amazing what Youtube and a couple of hours of searching on Google will teach someone...

    I have updated my location - San Diego, CA. The reason I left room for one more hive is that technically I am allowed to have two colonies/hives within city limits. By the time I got to building the stand for my hive I had enjoyed myself so much that I wanted to make sure I had room for expansion! That's also what drove me to place them on the roof: To meet the required stand-off distances to the property lines together with only having a small back yard with young kids made that the best choice... Fortunately it's well accessible with a ladder and there is a weight-bearing wall right underneath the stand!

    Little John' concern about having lost or accidentally hurt the queen during the relocation was on my mind. I also considered the cross-comb issue DanielD mentions and added paint sticks into the grooves at the top of the frames as comb guides. I didn't have any wax to paint them though...

    Thank you again for the pointers - I will make sure to check and report back in a couple of days!

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: New Bee Keeper, New Colony, New Equipment - What Could Go Wrong?!

    welcome aboard, thanks for sharing, and good job so far!

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
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    San Diego, CA, USA
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    Default Re: New Bee Keeper, New Colony, New Equipment - What Could Go Wrong?!

    Well, the good news is that the queen is alive and well - I saw quite a few eggs!

    However:
    DSC_0639.jpg

    They started on the exact opposite side of the hive box; i.e. I had put the cut comb into frames 1-3 and they decided to start a new set of perpendicular combs on frame 9 and 10... I wonder if it has something to do with the fact that I had the entrance on the same side? I.e. the entrance was by frames 1-3, so I wonder whether they chose to move as it would be easier to regulate temperature further away from the entrance (frame 1 is on the right hand side in the picture below)?
    DSC_0621.jpg

    So I removed the cross comb, placed them in frames with rubber bands as the others, and then alternated them with the large pieces of comb from when I first moved them out of the cooler, starting in the corner away from the entrance (the one they had moved to). My hope is that the large pieces will help direct them to build in the right direction...

    Also, some of the larvae in the original comb didn't fair so well and seems to have died/been abandoned while others are now capped. The number of bees on those combs was significantly less than the rest of the colony that was building the new comb:
    DSC_0623.jpg DSC_0625.jpg DSC_0627.jpg

    I assume that's collateral damage from the move and I shouldn't worry too much about it at that point?

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Woodbridge, VA (But planning to move to NW Louisiana soon)
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    Default Re: New Bee Keeper, New Colony, New Equipment - What Could Go Wrong?!

    Bees build comb with the cells angling downward, toward the center of the comb. Think of it as keeping the wet nectar from running out. It looks to me like you have some of the comb situated upside down in your frames. I don't know if that will have any bearing on brood development and emergence, but they likely can't use it for storing nectar. At the least, it will slow down their recovery from the cut out.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: New Bee Keeper, New Colony, New Equipment - What Could Go Wrong?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Greeny View Post
    It looks to me like you have some of the comb situated upside down in your frames.
    You are correct - when I first cut the comb out I was having trouble keeping the heavy part filled with nectar on the top from falling and breaking the still weak comb below. So I think for one of the large pieces and a few of the smaller pieces I turned them upside don. Now I know that was a mistake...

    My initial reaction is that I should go fix them by turning them right side up, but I hesitate to go tear the hive apart again?

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
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    Northern Lower Michigan, USA
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    Default Re: New Bee Keeper, New Colony, New Equipment - What Could Go Wrong?!

    Quote Originally Posted by nodapic View Post
    You are correct - when I first cut the comb out I was having trouble keeping the heavy part filled with nectar on the top from falling and breaking the still weak comb below. So I think for one of the large pieces and a few of the smaller pieces I turned them upside don. Now I know that was a mistake...

    My initial reaction is that I should go fix them by turning them right side up, but I hesitate to go tear the hive apart again?
    The comb to be usable needs to be the way it was built, upside down comb will be abandoned. it is build with appx a 15 degree slant to keep stuff from running out. So you have found your first mistake.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: New Bee Keeper, New Colony, New Equipment - What Could Go Wrong?!

    Quote Originally Posted by nodapic View Post
    You are correct - when I first cut the comb out I was having trouble keeping the heavy part filled with nectar on the top from falling and breaking the still weak comb below. So I think for one of the large pieces and a few of the smaller pieces I turned them upside don. Now I know that was a mistake...

    My initial reaction is that I should go fix them by turning them right side up, but I hesitate to go tear the hive apart again?
    I would fix it, ASAP, having useable comb is a huge time-saver for the colony and will jump start their build up.
    I did a similar cutout re-hive, and even knowing the cell slant issue and actively trying to rubber band the combs in the correct orientation, I still got confused on a few and initially banded them in upside down.
    Pretty minor mistake overall, considering you've jumped way in the deep end of the pool!
    Good job, and good luck!

  15. #14
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    Kirksville, Missouri USA
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    Default Re: New Bee Keeper, New Colony, New Equipment - What Could Go Wrong?!

    Fixing it would also possibly help to key them to the right direction for the comb. I would also put it on or next to the frame that was done cross wise.

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
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    San Diego, CA, USA
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    Default Re: New Bee Keeper, New Colony, New Equipment - What Could Go Wrong?!

    Alright, thank you all for all the help. I have right-sided all the comb, used the little pieces from yesterday's cross comb to ensure there was comb continuously from the top to the bottom of the frame, and placed the two full frames next to the two frames that had the cross comb on it. The piece of old comb that I moved over into their new corner yesterday seems to have been accepted just fine - could barely see it for all the bees.

    I also put out a quart of 1:1 sugar water as I didn't notice an increase in nectar/honey stores yesterday. My guess is they are still locating in this new area...

    I plan to leave them alone for 10-14 days now - or would that be too long without inspection?

    PS: I finally figured out how to keep my smoker lit!

  17. #16
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    May 2019
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    Spokane, Washington, USA
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    Default Re: New Bee Keeper, New Colony, New Equipment - What Could Go Wrong?!

    Subscribing so I can watch progress, this is an awesome introduction to beekeeping for you! Have you checked the side to side level of that hive? According to Michelle Carter of Living Web Farms, if the narrower side to side of the hive is perfectly level, running east to west, and the longer part of the frames go from the front to the back of the hive and are facing North to South (it's ok for this to have a slight downward tilt towards the hive entrance to facilitate water drainage/moisture management within the hive), then the bees will naturally draw out well behaved & easy to inspect comb on those frames. That might be something you'd want to try if you don't already have it set up that way. I'd love to see progress pictures! Thanks for sharing!
    Last edited by BumblingBeek; 06-27-2019 at 02:26 PM. Reason: silly wording

  18. #17
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    Default Re: New Bee Keeper, New Colony, New Equipment - What Could Go Wrong?!

    With foundationless frames they can mess them up real good in a week, so waiting two weeks could have all your frames tied together. They can start a comb down a top bar just fine and then jump over to the next frame with it. Been there done that. If it's a strong flow, I would be checking every 5 days or so, at least till they have a comb or two all the way across the top bars. But you have a smaller colony so it might not be as urgent till they get bigger. Foundationless requires a watchful eye when they are building comb. If you catch them early enough and a comb is starting to go off the frame, you can push the soft wax back in place right up close to the top bar back on track with your thumb and keep it attached. If they get too far off it can get messy.

    One of my first hives, I remember 3 frames that were permanently tied together for a while and I pulled all three at once to inspect till I got up the courage to tear them apart. I utilized a couple hundred foundationless frames, but I use acorn double waxed now.

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
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    San Diego, CA, USA
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    Default Re: New Bee Keeper, New Colony, New Equipment - What Could Go Wrong?!

    Well, I am sad to report that the colony has left the hive... I went to check it this morning and the box was empty except for ~5 scragglers...

    Interestingly, none of the remaining comb had nectar/honey in it. There were some stores of pollen, but nothing else. Some capped brood, but that's about it. Should I keep the comb and install it to give the next swarm/colony a headstart? Or will they just reject it?

    I guess I'll go hunting again... hard to not take it as a personal rejection...

  20. #19
    Join Date
    May 2019
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    Spokane, Washington, USA
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by nodapic View Post
    Interestingly, none of the remaining comb had nectar/honey in it. There were some stores of pollen, but nothing else. Some capped brood, but that's about it. Should I keep the comb and install it to give the next swarm/colony a headstart? Or will they just reject it?
    Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that! Did you do any mite treatment when the swarm was new to you? I am not an expert, and I hope someone who is will correct me if I’m wrong. My understanding of absconding vs. swarming is that the former is a complete abandonment of a hive, which is what it sounds like happened here, usually due to an intolerable amount of parasites or pathogens present. The latter is a super organism giving birth to another and usually a sign of a good, healthy, overcrowded colony with enough resources coming in to be able to take the population hit in the interest of reproducing. In either case, the workers would gorge themselves on enough nectar & honey to survive the move and hopefully be able to store some in their new home if they find. I wouldn’t throw out their drawn comb, but I would collect dead bees from the bottom board to send to a bee lab to have them tested for any pathogens that may have caused the absconding. One possible other cause of absconding I have heard of is too much disruption in their brood chamber while the new swarm is setting up house. How often were you in the hive? That swarm you installed could possibly have been a ‘Mite Bomb’ from another hive with an uncontrolled varroa nite population causing them to leave their original home. I think the best coarse of action any time you get a new swarm collected is to treat immediately on installation with Oxalic Acid to knock the mite population way down prior to any brood being made in their new home. So at any rate, if the bee lab tells you they couldn’t find pathogens in your dead bees you send them, it will be safe to keep that newly drawn comb to give your next colony a head start.

  21. #20
    Join Date
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    Default Re: New Bee Keeper, New Colony, New Equipment - What Could Go Wrong?!

    Put a thermometer on the outside and inside of the hive and see how hot things get in the midday sun. I think the bees packed up and left for "cooler" accomodations. A rooftop in San Diego has got to get blistering hot in July. After all, you did get them out of an ice chest, no?
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

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