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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi there,

This is my first year opening my hives and I have a few questions. Please bare with me, I tried looking for the answers before I posted but no luck.
For context: I am in Quebec, Canada, I had two Langstroth hives (all medium supers all equipment was made by me). I had lost 1 hive in November (the weaker one of the two, they all died just before I was to did the Oxalic-acid treatment) and the other hive was doing well. I hope it survived the winter (they were still alive when I winterized, fingers crossed they survived but I am doubtful). I will be hopefully getting secondhand deep brood boxes but I may make some before the package arrives. Now, here are some of my question;



  • Can I use the honey frames from the lost hive? I'm worried about dieseases being transfered into the new package. I haven't yet used a torched or disinfect the boxes or frames but I was planning on doing this at some point this week. Is this ok? I also have some frames that has pollen, I don't think I should use that but I am unsure.
  • Do you think I should use deep boxes for the packages or can I use what I have (money is an issue given the crisis). However, I can make some boxes in time. My questions is, do you think since I only have medium frames (I made wax starter strips last year) I could use these in the deeper boxes untill I assemble deeper frames? I don't have access to a car and will have to pick up everything from the bee supplier all at once.


As for opening the stronger winterized hive. I know I should have planned this earlier unfortunately, I didn't and am kicking myself now. I don't think my bees are alive as I don't see any activity close to the hive and can't hear them. I was planning on going out Saturday which will be 10C (50F). I haven't prepared anything but could start feeding sugar water immediately and making some patty mixes, I'm just not sure what are the proper steps for spring. Can you suggest some must do's at this time of the year.

Maybe I should just switch from packages to Nucs. Any advice to a NOOBIE.


Sending my gratitude. Merci!
 

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Hi there,

This is my first year opening my hives and I have a few questions. Please bare with me, I tried looking for the answers before I posted but no luck.
For context: I am in Quebec, Canada, I had two Langstroth hives (all medium supers all equipment was made by me). I had lost 1 hive in November (the weaker one of the two, they all died just before I was to did the Oxalic-acid treatment) and the other hive was doing well. I hope it survived the winter (they were still alive when I winterized, fingers crossed they survived but I am doubtful). I will be hopefully getting secondhand deep brood boxes but I may make some before the package arrives. Now, here are some of my question;



  • Can I use the honey frames from the lost hive? Yes you can use them, or eat them.
    I'm worried about dieseases being transfered into the new package. This is a possibility, IF you feel disease if present then do not do this.
    I haven't yet used a torched or disinfect the boxes or frames but I was planning on doing this at some point this week. Is this ok? I scrape the frames on the 3 side of the bars with out comb attached , IE the outsides, then wipe with a warm water bleach solution. Do not torch the sealed comb as you will melt the cappings, I do torch the lid , bottom and boxes. If disinfect then leave some time to dry and evaporate before adding the bees into the hive.
    I also have some frames that has pollen, I don't think I should use that but I am unsure. Pollen frames are ok as well, bees with either use it , leave it , or haul it out. pollen is protein for bees Honey is the carbs, they need both.
  • Do you think I should use deep boxes for the packages or can I use what I have (money is an issue given the crisis). you can put packages in what ever you have, I do prefer deep frames for brood it is some what a personal preference.
    However, I can make some boxes in time. My questions is, do you think since I only have medium frames (I made wax starter strips last year) I could use these in the deeper boxes untill I assemble deeper frames? yes you can reuse. Starting a package on strips or foundation is a fairly serious set back, they must first build comb then raise brood, I would recommend 4 or 5 combs for a new package, with 2 comb of pollen and honey. If it rains or is cold for 3 or 4 days after you hive the package they then have something to eat and can start cleaning cells for egg laying. Else they first need to build comb collect pollen then start brood.
    I don't have access to a car and will have to pick up everything from the bee supplier all at once. or have it shipped..


As for opening the stronger winterized hive. I know I should have planned this earlier unfortunately, I didn't and am kicking myself now. I don't think my bees are alive as I don't see any activity close to the hive and can't hear them. I was planning on going out Saturday which will be 10C (50F). 10C 50F is ok to open and check, if they are light stores the other hives honey can also be given. If thy are dead you have 2 hive to clean up. do go carefully thru the hives if dead to determine what was the cause, then you can eliminate that one for this winter.

I haven't prepared anything but could start feeding sugar water immediately and making some patty mixes, I'm just not sure what are the proper steps for spring. Can you suggest some must do's at this time of the year. Hmmm don't panic. :) think of what needs be done by the time the packages arrive then do that first. Do clean every thing up much of the boxes and frames can be reused. the sugar water is best consumed when the temps are 50F and above, bees in the cold will not readily take syrup. Honey or capped syrup is better feed.

Maybe I should just switch from packages to Nucs. Either will work, do you have access to NUCS? if you do, you have the same issue with bringing Comb into your Apiary what if it has disease? IMO ordering NUCs now is a bit late some places sell out very quickly. If there are other bees in your area you can use a few of your dark combs (3-4) to make a swarm trap. If there is a bee meeting group in your area someone there may have a split to sell.

Any advice to a NOOBIE. Is there someone who you know that has some experience with bees? a Mentor can be very helpful.

I have 10 dead outs I have cleaned and I am getting 2 packages in 2 weeks , mine are cleaned wiped, torched, bleach water wiped and ready today. I have empty comb centered, outside comb has honey and pollen. Pay attention to the hives as you take them inside and apart for cleaning, you should notice the stores on the outside of the nest area and the empty combs in the center, build that same way for your packages. from an end (frame end bar) view of the hive, the center is likely open, 9 o'clock to 3 o'clock will have honey, if any is left, 3 o'clock to 9 o'clock will have pollen. Somewhat the same for a side view shifted by air source and bee type. nest in the center, food around the edges. build them this same setup before dumping in the packages.



Sending my gratitude. Merci!
Answers in line, these would be my opinions and not gospel good luck
GG
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you GreyGoose! I really appreciate the advice!

I do have a few more questions from your response. My lost hive from november, I believe died from verroa. Does that mean using any of the old comb, honey and such is out of the question? I was told you can still give honey frames. Could someone technically start treatments right away to prevent the diesease from spreading from the old comb to the new package?

Thanks for the clean up tip. What's your bleach solution ratio?

Last question: Do you think I can actually open my hives and check if they are alive this week, temp(10C=50F). I heard as long as it's consistently above 0 you should be fine, but then I also read never inspect frames unless above 12C. If my bee are not* alive and died from winter conditions, then I could use that comb for the packages? I just worried, that since the weaker one probably died from Verroa then my other hive could have the same problem and not lasted the winter.

Last year, my first season, I got my nucs in July. It's a big learing curve for me this season.

Thoughts?

Thanks again GG.

p.s. Definetly, looking for a beekeeping mentor!
 

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Thank you GreyGoose! I really appreciate the advice!

I do have a few more questions from your response. My lost hive from november, I believe died from verroa. Does that mean using any of the old comb, honey and such is out of the question? for human consumption or giving it to some bees IMO is fine. I was told you can still give honey frames. I believe this to be true as well. Could someone technically start treatments right away to prevent the diesease from spreading from the old comb to the new package? Varroa is a parasite, a Mite, it attaches to the bee, in the late brood stage, and sucks its hemoglobin. A couple weeks after the bees die the mites (varroa) also dies they need the bees for warmth and food. so 2 weeks after the hive is dead the mites are dead also. Unfortunately Varroa vector several virus , much like the Mosquito has Malaria, and Zika the Mites vector several bee virus. I am not aware of a Mite vectored virus that stays in the comb, so Immediate treatment due to the comb having some stuff on it is not your issue. Your issue is the package, or NUC will likely have a few Varona in with the bees, or where your bees last year picked up Varroa your new bees will as well. So keep in mind if you do the same thing as last year you will likely get the same results as last year. And yes the packages IMO should be treated for the Varroa they have, asap then later for the Varroa they find. The big issue is the mites build up all summer, the bees try to cope. in fall the hive raises the winter bees these are the bees that need to live for weeks maybe months till spring to restart the brood production. when the Winter bees are raised the mite population is peak and many of the winter bees are compromised, so surviving winter is then also compromised. So with a new hive like yours Optimally you would test to see if you have mites then treat, retest treat til the mites are gone. Unfortunately some of the treatments are not recommended for when Honey supers are on, IE if it kills mite maybe the honey you eat/sell should not have it in there. So somewhat traditionally, folks treat in the spring , then add supers, have the flow, pull supers after the flow then treat agan to knock the mites down in time for the winter bees to be raised in a healthy state.

Thanks for the clean up tip. What's your bleach solution ratio? I use a plastic Ice cream container 2/3 water and 2 glugs of bleach, my guess is 2/3 cup bleach to 2/3 gallon water, the old cloth i use is very bleach smelling. I then put the wiped frames in a box with extra space like 7 to a 10 frame box, lots of air to dry them off , in a week they are dry enough to go back into 10 to a box.

Last question: Do you think I can actually open my hives and check if they are alive this week, temp(10C=50F). I heard as long as it's consistently above 0 you should be fine, but then I also read never inspect frames unless above 12C. If my bee are not* alive and died from winter conditions, then I could use that comb for the packages? I just worried, that since the weaker one probably died from Verroa then my other hive could have the same problem and not lasted the winter. If one hive had the Varroa they both likely had it, drones can drift from hive to hive and the source was present for both hives to find, depending on strength and ability to fight off the Varroa they would demise at different times. I will open the top of my hive as low as 30F 50F is prefered. At 60-64 F i would be ok looking frame to frame. If it gets to 50F you can pop the lid, if there are bees right to the top maybe add a few frames of honey from the early dead out, to the edge. If you do not see or hear bees pry off 1 more box, whole boxes will not chill to bad at 50, frames by frame they may. depends on wind how long you take etc.
If you get to the bottom and did not find the live bees then load it up to get cleaned out.

Last year, my first season, I got my nucs in July. It's a big learing curve for me this season. Every season is a learning season for me, that is why I like it.


Thoughts?

Thanks again GG.

p.s. Definetly, looking for a beekeeping mentor!
welcome, answers again inline.
GG
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
hi GG!


I was hoping to update you on the reverse method. I need to clarify the concept. In late April I had introduced the reverse deep method into my hive that survived over the winter (as suggested). It was the first thing I did, and the layout was the following (ground up ): bottom board, new larger super with empty frames/foundation, on top of that was the over-winterized colony in a medium super, then a top feeder, inner cover and roof/top.
My goals was to attempt to introduce a larger super this season.

Now where I need clarification was that when I opened my hive today I still found the larger deeper completely empty and rather than using the space below the bees were building burr combs upwards, meaning they were starting to build on top of the frames of the medium size box. I now placed the larger super on top of the medium moving it below. Now my question is, I don't really understand the reversal method- why did the bees not build downwards? They are definitely growing and had the space. Could you clarify this for me.

Thanks a million.
 

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hi GG!


I was hoping to update you on the reverse method. I need to clarify the concept. In late April I had introduced the reverse deep method into my hive that survived over the winter (as suggested). It was the first thing I did, and the layout was the following (ground up ): bottom board, new larger super with empty frames/foundation, on top of that was the over-winterized colony in a medium super, then a top feeder, inner cover and roof/top.
My goals was to attempt to introduce a larger super this season.

Now where I need clarification was that when I opened my hive today I still found the larger deeper completely empty and rather than using the space below the bees were building burr combs upwards, meaning they were starting to build on top of the frames of the medium size box. I now placed the larger super on top of the medium moving it below. Now my question is, I don't really understand the reversal method- why did the bees not build downwards? They are definitely growing and had the space. Could you clarify this for me.

Thanks a million.
Because bees want to go UP ^.

Sometimes the bees will do the right thing themselves, but often they will not.

I am up at a similar latitude as you are, maybe even a little further North. When my bees are going into winter, I make sure that their food is above them. In the Spring, very often I will have to swap the positions of the brood boxes because all activity will be in the upper box and they will be ignoring the empty box below, so I swap them and put the empty box on top.

Terminology: boxes that are used for the bees to nest in are 'brood boxes', boxes that you use to collect honey in for your own use/sale (harvest) are called 'supers'. If you do not differentiate between these, it can cause confusion.

Questions:

1) Did you treat for Varroa last year?

2) Did you treat for Nosema last year?

3) Did you insulate your hives for Winter?

4) Did you use the Winter, when you did not have to tend the bees, and extra time you have now, to read any of the many good books on beekeeping which will provide you with much knowledge of the things you should and should not do?
 

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hi GG!


I was hoping to update you on the reverse method. I need to clarify the concept. In late April I had introduced the reverse deep method into my hive that survived over the winter (as suggested). It was the first thing I did, and the layout was the following (ground up ): bottom board, new larger super with empty frames/foundation, on top of that was the over-winterized colony in a medium super, then a top feeder, inner cover and roof/top.
My goals was to attempt to introduce a larger super this season.

Now where I need clarification was that when I opened my hive today I still found the larger deeper completely empty and rather than using the space below the bees were building burr combs upwards, meaning they were starting to build on top of the frames of the medium size box. I now placed the larger super on top of the medium moving it below. Now my question is, I don't really understand the reversal method- why did the bees not build downwards? They are definitely growing and had the space. Could you clarify this for me.

Thanks a million.
Hi Missgeneralidea,

SO with bees there is not "always". If they do not utilize this space then trying it over the top is the next step to try.

BTW I do not put Foundation under, "Nadir" but comb so I may have missed you intended to use foundation.
They do build downwards. Is the "foundation" you refered to Plastic? it tends to be innored until a good flow by some hives.

good luck

GG
 

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The bees are likely looking for space to build drone comb, thus the construction on bottom of upper frames. If you put a frame with a section, perhaps half a panel of worker foundation in the middle, the bees will come down to draw drone comb either side of it and also start drawing out the central worker comb.
Matt Davey touches on this in his thread Opening sides of brood nest. Also posts by Lauri

Once they get started and as the top box fills they will move down. April and May have been colder than usual and it is not easy or even good to entice the bees to expand earlier than they are inclined. If you give them too much wax foundation too early they will only chew it up and probably redraw it as drone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yes, I understand bees want to go up, I just don't understand the concept of the reversal method if the bees build up anyway. Just seems pointless in a way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hey GG! Hope you're well! Thanks for the writing back. I had both comb, foundation strips and plastic. I used the plastic because I wanted them to enter a larger box. Now, it's clear, I should have used my left over comb. Seems like everything is going well now with the bees! They are now building in the larger box on top! I was just wondering about the reversal method.

Thanks GG!!!
 

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It would be pretty hard to conduct a legit experiment. Even if you had cameras in the hive,weighed them,etc.,there are the variables that can't be measured. For example, the flow,genetics of queen and drones. Then there are unknown variables. I have had side by side hives with same configuration,same breeding stock,same foraging opportunities and there has been a fairly significant difference in honey produced. One of them will not use an UE, even in the winter when the other hive makes almost exclusive use of it. J
 

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Sorry for the above. Wrong thread and can't delete. It could be my device,or me,but have seen this happening lately. J
 
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