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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello All:

A little background. New to Beekeeping. Seem to have a healthy, happy and polite colony. The bees are steadily building comb, and filling it with pollen, brood, and honey.

Now what? Do I wait to hear word about a nectar flow, then put on a honey super? Or, do I just let the colony manage itself?

I live in the S.F. Bay Area, so we don't get cold, or early winters. I expect it to be no less than 45, with highs around 68 through November.

Thanks for the guidance...again.

DG
 

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If you put a super on at the wrong time the only thing that will happen is that they will get it a little dirty. If they need one and you don't put it on they will be crowded and possibly swarm. It's a little early to talk about winter isn't it? Read about swarming on this site. A super doesn't always give the queen more room. If they get too much honey in the broodnest move it out and give them some drawn comb or foundation.

Dickm
 

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DG You probably don't have much drawn comb since it is your first year. So they will spend a lot of energy building your drawn comb the first year. So I would always keep an empty super on there full of foundation. Like Dickm said, it won't hurt anything. 2 empty supers at all times is a good rule I think. I just checked last night and found my Kona Queen hive full, 7 mediums high, all full and capped but for one frame of foundation. Amazing how fast they can fill them when a flow is on. caught me by surprise. Well there are 2 empty supers of foundation on there now!
 

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You gave your location which helps a lot in answering the question but you didn't say how much they have drawn out.

Will you overwinter in two deeps? Have they drawn two deeps? Since that's standard, I'll answer for that. Your first goal is for them to draw out 8 frames of foundation in one deep brood box. When you have 7-8 frames drawn out, put another deep box on with 10 frames of foundation. At this time, most of us taek the two outside frames in the bottom box, and put them in the middle and put drawn out frames of honey on the outside. This encourages the bees to fill those final frames.

Then we wait for them to do the second box. When it is 7-8 frames drawn out, it's time to super. If you've decided to use queen excluders put one on under the bottom super. Then add 2-4 supers of drawn comb. Probably 8-9 frames each. Wht no drawn comb? Then you use one super of 10 frames of foundation. You have to use ten when they first draw it out. Then you can take one out. Are you in a local club?

Someone needs to show you how to hold the uncapping knife. Everyone needs a local mentor. We can help a lot with the generalities but can't show you why 9 frames hold more honey than ten.

Tell us where you are using different equipment from my assumptions and we can change suggestions. YMMV = Your Milage May Vary.

Hawk
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hawk,

Thank you for taking the time to provide such a thorough reply. Here's some more information that you requested, or might be useful:

1. I installed the colony on May 15.

2. They have been busy since day 1.

3. When I watch the bees through a spotting scope. It appears that 50% to 60% are returning to the hive with suitcases full of pollen.

4. The bees have drawn out comb on all of deep #1, and about 70% of deep #2. I can't report on the fullness of the contents at this time, just the fact that the comb is drawn. As a newbie, I didn't notice...still fascinated and consumed with everything else going on when I enter the hive.

5. I have not entered deep #1 since I added #2.

6. I am still using a top feeder, and they're consuming about 1 quart of 50/50 mix every 2 days.

7. I have been rotating the frames (outside empties to center...one at a time) to encourage full development of the box.

8. I do plan on overwintering in two deeps.

I hope this helps. Thanks again for the input. I look forward to reading/learning more.

Best,

David

ps, I do have a beekeeping supply store relatively close (25 miles). They're quite helpful, but inundated with people like me seeking help. This site, and all of you, definitely help take the load off of those poor shop keepers.
 

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Sounds like you could stop feeding. A quart every 2 days for a booming hive is nothing to speak of. There is nectar going on. What plants are in bloom for you?

Bringing in pollen is a good indicator that brood is well under way.

I think it's time to pop the tops as assess how much brood is there.

How the mite count? Are you treating for mites?

Are you planing on spliting the hive??
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hello Sundance,

Having just added another 2 quarts, perhaps I'll take your advice and cut the little bugger off - cold turkey - when this last supply runs out.

Not sure exactly what's blooming around here right now, but it's been a prolonged Spring in terms of rain, so lots of wildflowers keep on coming. Also, the star thistle looks as though its going to come on with a vengence. Finally, we have blackberries around the corner.

I'll go deep into the hive this weekend to check the brood. Looking at the activity on the front of the hive, I'd say it's a very active nursery.

I've checked the board, and see no mites. I am not treating, but am prepared to add Crisco patties. Not sure when I should initiate this treatment.

I wasn't planning on splitting the hive...more out of ignorance/nievety than strategy.

DG
 

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If your hives are that full and you are going to add a super you want to pull that feed.

Spliting is a piece of cake. Do you have a queen supplier near you? There are lots in Cal. What is your goal as far as hive numbers?

You can just tip the boxes up at an angle and look at the bottoms of the frames to make sure there are no swarm cells. This does not disturb the hive as much if that is a concern.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Sundance,

I'm sure I can obtain a queen through my local beekeeping store.

To be quite honest, the amount of honey produced by just one hive would be absolutely delightful. I imagine that I would like 2 to 3. The second one for sure, as it will let me compare hives...better way to evalute the health.

Thanks for the tip on tipping. I should probably take a close look around, pull some frames, and hold them to the light.

DG

By the way, for anyone reading this string. I took some beautiful shots of bees this weekend...sitting in my garden amongst the lavendar plants. If anyone is interested, just send me a PM, and I'll send you a copy.
 

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Yep, It's time to super and that means no medicine and no more feeding. Also you need to go deep into the hive in order to know what's going on there. Especially when you're new. Smoke the entrance. Wait 15 seconds. Crack open the top and smoke it. Wait 15 seconds. Put the top upside down on the ground next to/behind the hive. Place any honey supers and the top brood box in the upside down top.
Now you can inpect the bottom brood box first. So if you decide it's stormy outside, or the hive is too restless, etc. the bottom box gets done. Expect a busy hive like yours to propolize the brood frames together top box to bottom box. Stay on top of em. don't let them make you pick up two full deeps. That's how backs get injured.

If your queen is marked or if you can find her or brand new eggs, you can tell which box she's in for a split. If you split now you probably won't get any honey this year.

Good Luck,

Hawk
 

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DG,
You've gotten good advice. When you are new it helps to have a plan when you open the hive. I>E "Determine if it's queenright". Stay with that though tuntil you see young brood or the queen. The brood is more important. Then, go to something else.

Make a prediction before you start. I predict that the bottom box won't have much brood in it. It will have some honey and a lot of pollen. When I see this, and it's common, I "reverse" the 2 deeps. The queen likes to work up. Putting the emptier deep on top equates to opening the brood nest. I do it a couple of times in the early part of the year.

Dickm
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you all.

Sounds like I'm in for an eventful weekend.

I'm looking forward to it!

Thanks again.

DG
 
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