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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone! I'm new to the forum, so I hope I've posted this in the right location.
I've got a question that I was hoping to get some
advice on. I have come into possession of an old hive that
has not been opened in 20 years. It's been sitting in a remote
wooded area down here in South Carolina. When I went out to inspect it
to get an idea what I was dealing with I discovered the box had
rotted to a point where I was afraid to disturb it, lest the whole
thing fall over into a pile. From the activity at the entrance, the
colony seems strong. My plan was to come back and basically do a
cutout and install them in a new hive and leave it in the same location.
If by chance they were healthy and strong during the cutout I hoped
to make a split from it at the same time. Just leave the split there and
turned in the opposite direction from the original hive. I was going to
feed them sugar syrup until they got established. We have a lengthy
summer and a good golden rod flow in the fall. I guess my main concern is my
fear of robbing right in the middle of the cutout this time of year. I'm
sure there will be honey spilled in the process. Once the robbing begins
I don't know if it can be stopped before destroying the colony. Anyone had
any experience with this or have any suggestions? I appreciate the help guys.
 

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Sounds interesting. I hope you can post some pics, or even a vid of the process.

There will be honey spilt. Even if the frames are intact and solid, after 20 years they will be all built up with comb and stuck together so you will have to basically cut them apart.

As far as robbing, do you know of other hives nearby? Make small, narrow entrances to your two new hives. Depending on how rotten the hive and frames are, maybe burn or bury all the busted up wood and frames.
 

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The hive stood there for 20 years.
Why shouldn't it stand for another 1-2 months?
Of course, it will.
Surely it will stand another year, if left alone.

What is the rush to bust them now?

Time your cut-out so that there is no severe dearth around you - then go for it.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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In Mark's video, just about everything that could go wrong did, and yet he still managed to rehive them.
 

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well if the hive is rotten that is a good thing IMO
I would either with a small skill saw or a chain saw cut off one of the long sides.
Prying the frames out side ways is the only way you will get "most" of the frames out.
ols well propolized frames if lifted will at time just have the top bar pull off.
Likely the frames are ok, they would have been propolized.

I would on first pass just move the frames into a new set of boxes, do have 2 sets in case your find more than one queen or cells.

have 3 small pails one for honey cuttings , one for scrap, one for brood cuttings. the honey you can strain out, if the comb is wonky and you have several pieces then rubber band them into frames. hopefully most of the frames are intact. the bottom box may have the frame bottoms rotted off the rest could be in useable shape.
An option could be to bondo it up and get it to spring di the chop up then, I would be doing it now I think the waiting would be difficult.

if the hive is too bad shape, you may end up rubber banding the 5 best brood combs into frames and shaking the rest off "shook swarm" having some comb for the project is a good thing.

GG

In the spring add new foundation frames on the top and let them move up. hopefully you can by the end of the year, have them in completely new equipment.
 

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Maybe a hybrid approach? I would wait for the fall flow before tearing into it but maybe in the meantime you can draw them up into a new box with a feeder on top. If possible, move a frame up. Ideally brood, but I think any frame would help lure them. With any luck, ok lots of luck, they will draw some out and the queen will start laying. If that happens, I would take the chance of trying to get an excluder below the new box. You have time, so worth a shot. J
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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I agree that putting new boxes with frames on top of the existing hive is a good approach if time is not of the essence. Let the bees do all the work over the next few months or over winter, then take the hive off the top and salvage what you can from the now empty frames below.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks so much everyone for the replies. I appreciate all the great suggestions.
I could wait until there is no dearth just to be safe because there are other
colonies out there not far away from the location, both feral and hives.
Someone also mentioned putting a box on top to possibly draw them up. That
also sounds interesting and a lot safer during a dearth. Whenever I get it straight
I will try to get some pics to post. Thanks again guys for the help! This forum seems
like a very nice group of people.
 

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I agree that putting new boxes with frames on top of the existing hive is a good approach if time is not of the essence. Let the bees do all the work over the next few months or over winter, then take the hive off the top and salvage what you can from the now empty frames below.
Agree. Digging into that old box with falling apart frames is a PIA. You could put a frame of brood in the new box to encourage the bees to move up.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Absolutely! A new box on top is a lot less hassle, safer as far as robbing goes, and a frame of
brood would definitely lend some encouragement. Thanks for the tip!
 

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Alternative idea besides waiting: A light weight screened enclosure. Hoops and a mesh work well or quick wood frame. I would think the bee's survival genetics are certainly important.
 

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Great post, Lowcountry. Sounds like some good genetics to have around.

In my very humble opinion you have gotten some good advice on here- the 'less is more' approach of adding a box on top sounds like the least risky approach to me. If worse came to worst, you could leave the whole set-up in place this Fall, providing supplemental feeding as necessary and then take the upper box or boxes away early next Spring before they commenced brood rearing in the existing hive body on the bottom.

I will be eager to read how it turns out for you.

Russ
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I have definitely received some great advice from everybody. The box on top seems like a lot
safer approach. The genetics those bees are producing are some I want to keep around. I will
keep in touch here whenever I start the process. Hopefully can get some pics. Someone
mentioned a screen enclosure while doing hive work during a dearth and I think thats a great idea
too for keeping robbers at bay.
 
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