Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner
1 - 9 of 9 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys,

I'll start by apologizing for rambling. If rambling bothers you, you might want to abandon my thread or flame me right now so we can get on with our day... :)

First year keeping bees. Did a couple things right, did a lot of things wrong. Looking for some advice and info.

Started the year with 2 packages (1 carn, 1 Russian) and an psudo-established 16 frame hive of Italians who actually appeared to be a package of Italians spread over 16 old empty frames of drawn comb (didn't figure that out until after I purchased the hive and got it home). First lesson learned. Will never buy a hive without opening it and poking around first.

I put the packages into 10 frame deeps and moved the Italians into 2 10 frame deeps (added in some blank frames). After the packages drew out ~6 frames and started building comb at the top I put second boxes on them. I started using super-short supers made by a shop around here instead of queen excluders and the Italians filled one with wax and honey by the end of May. Seemed to work really well, there were no eggs in the frames. Extracted that honey and put the empty on the Carns for them to use. When I did that I put a metal queen excluder and deep super on the Italians and an empty super short on the Russians.

The problems started there. The Italians apparently hated metal queen excluders. Mostly they didn't go past the excluder and I am assuming due to that felt cramped. I didn't know there was a problem until I opened the Italians and most of the hive was empty except a few bees, a bunch of drones and some capped queen cells (completely missed a swarm. No idea where it went). Middle of June the Italians swarmed again, this time I saw them; went 15' up in a neighbors tree to get them, smoked them and grabbed as many as I could (think I got 90% of them, couldn't tell if I got the queen). Put them in a deep with a couple empty frames (didn't have any extra drawn ones), and a full feeder. By the next morning the box was empty. Was I supposed to block off the entrance?

The Italians haven't swarmed again since then, but also haven't put much of any wax into the single super on top of the hive. Meh. So they gave me about 20lb of honey at the end of May and since then have just been swarming. Went through the lower two boxes and they are FULL of babies, but little to no honey. Shouldn't they be setting on honey by now for winter in their frames? I just finally removed the queen excluder. Maybe she will go up and lay eggs, but they will have to pull wax first so at least I would wind up with some extra pulled frames... Thoughts? Is that a bad move? Do I just remove the super now? They are the only ones that have a lot of mites; probably because they swarmed twice and bred a lot of drones; but there is also a big pile of dead bees outside the door of the hive. I just cut out a big piece (whole sheet really) of drone comb they built and after freezing it and opening up capped drone cells I am not finding any mites so I am not sure what is going on there.

On to the Russians. Went through the hive this weekend, they haven't put much of any wax in the small super (1 frame partially pulled). Their lower frames have a bit more honey than the Italians but not much. Is this on par for a package? 20 frames of fully pulled out (the lower 2 boxes) and not much else?

Went through the Carns. They not only filled the super skinny with a gallon of honey I was able to extract, but their frames looked really good throughout the lower two boxes. Consistently capped honey across the top and sides with babies in the middle. Extracted about 20lbs of honey from the skinny super and gave the empty frames back to them. Any chance they would fill it again this year, or should I just take it off once it is cleaned out (plant hardiness zone 8A)? They do seem to be getting a LOT more aggressive. The only stings I have gotten are two from the Carns in the last couple weeks. This morning just opening the box they instantly were humming a very angry tone and attacked. Is that normal for this time of year or when you have recently harvested honey? Does that angry last overnight? I can totally see the value of pulled comb though; I assume this extra 20lbs of honey is strictly because they had empty comb to fill up. Is there any source for CLEAN frames of pulled honey super frames or do I just need to keep it up for a couple years to get to the point of having enough?

Have any of you tried/had luck with using a 3 week course of powdered sugar instead of miticides? What about mint oil or creosote smoke? I would really rather use IPS instead of pesticides, but I really don't want to lose all my bees either.

Thanks, and yeah a lot of questions in one post... Just found the forum this morning.

Casey
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
11,224 Posts
Welcome to Beesource!


> Put them in a deep with a couple empty frames (didn't have any extra drawn ones), and a full feeder. By the next morning the box was empty.


By any chance, did the hive that they absconded from have an open screened bottom board? If so, that may be a contributing factor. If you insist on an open screened bottom, close it off at least temporarily until a new colony at least has brood to anchor them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Nope, I was out of screened bottom boards so I had it on a flat wood one instead. Good to know that I should avoid screened for future swarms though; thanks!
 

·
Vendor
Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
Joined
·
54,171 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,136 Posts
Where you are your flow will be over for the year unless you happen to be near something out of the ordinary. You need to try to get hives to winter weight around August 1 or you will probably have to feed. My honey supers have all been off for a couple of weeks now and yes the bees are defensive because there is no nectar coming in and they need to guard what they have.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Good point Michael. Stripped out all the rambling and just left the questions I would still like answers for if someone has time:

The Italians apparently hated metal queen excluders, anyone else run into a situation where one of your hives has bees which are too big for queen excluders, or where they don't go through for other reasons? What were the reasons and what are the options?

I caught one swarm and lost it. Was I supposed to block off the entrance?

The Italian frames are still FULL of babies, but little to no honey. Shouldn't they be setting on honey by now for winter in their frames? Do Italians just suck at wintering?

My Russians seemed slow this year. 20 frames of fully pulled out (the lower 2 boxes) and not much else? Normal for a 3 lb package of Russians?

Is there any source for CLEAN frames of pulled honey super frames or do I just need to keep it up for a couple years to get to the point of having enough that the girls don't have to pull wax all year? Are there tricks to encourage them to pull more wax faster?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,136 Posts
I would still like answers for if someone has time:

The Italians apparently hated metal queen excluders, anyone else run into a situation where one of your hives has bees which are too big for queen excluders, or where they don't go through for other reasons? What were the reasons and what are the options?
All bees hate foundation and they hate it even more above an excluder. If it was foundation up there, next time leave the excluder off until they start drawing comb. Otherwise, if you store your honey supers wet, they we be up through the excluder and have all of the cells repaired in a day or two next spring.

I caught one swarm and lost it. Was I supposed to block off the entrance?
No, but you have to get the queen and if you add a frame with some open brood they will almost always stay.

The Italian frames are still FULL of babies, but little to no honey. Shouldn't they be setting on honey by now for winter in their frames? Do Italians just suck at wintering?
Italians don't seem to worry about winter as much as Russians or Carni's.

My Russians seemed slow this year. 20 frames of fully pulled out (the lower 2 boxes) and not much else? Normal for a 3 lb package of Russians?
I never expected more than two boxes of foundation drawn from a package. Sometimes they did, but not usually.

Is there any source for CLEAN frames of pulled honey super frames or do I just need to keep it up for a couple years to get to the point of having enough that the girls don't have to pull wax all year? Are there tricks to encourage them to pull more wax faster?
Patience.
 

·
Vendor
Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
Joined
·
54,171 Posts
>The Italians apparently hated metal queen excluders, anyone else run into a situation where one of your hives has bees which are too big for queen excluders, or where they don't go through for other reasons? What were the reasons and what are the options?

If you insist on a queen excluder (I would simply skip it) you need drawn comb on the other side, otherwise the bees usually won't cross it.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesulbn.htm#excluders
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfaqs.htm#excluders

> I caught one swarm and lost it. Was I supposed to block off the entrance?

I wouldn't. Sometimes they don't stay. Four drops of lemongrass essential oil helps a lot...

>The Italian frames are still FULL of babies, but little to no honey. Shouldn't they be setting on honey by now for winter in their frames? Do Italians just suck at wintering?

Well, Italians are not known for their frugality. They are "brood rearing fools". But they often winter quite well (although they eat a lot doing it.)

>My Russians seemed slow this year. 20 frames of fully pulled out (the lower 2 boxes) and not much else? Normal for a 3 lb package of Russians?

Every colony is different.

>Is there any source for CLEAN frames of pulled honey super frames or do I just need to keep it up for a couple years to get to the point of having enough that the girls don't have to pull wax all year?

Anyone might sell anything...

>Are there tricks to encourage them to pull more wax faster?

They draw wax when they need it. They need it when they have nectar (or syrup) in their stomachs and no where to store it. Heat helps. Time of year helps. Lot's of young bees help.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,794 Posts
Started the year with 2 packages (1 carn, 1 Russian) and an psudo-established 16 frame hive of Italians who actually appeared to be a package of Italians spread over 16 old empty frames of drawn comb (didn't figure that out until after I purchased the hive and got it home). First lesson learned. Will never buy a hive without opening it and poking around first.

I put the packages into 10 frame deeps and moved the Italians into 2 10 frame deeps (added in some blank frames). After the packages drew out ~6 frames and started building comb at the top I put second boxes on them. I started using super-short supers made by a shop around here instead of queen excluders and the Italians filled one with wax and honey by the end of May. Seemed to work really well, there were no eggs in the frames. Extracted that honey and put the empty on the Carns for them to use. When I did that I put a metal queen excluder and deep super on the Italians and an empty super short on the Russians.

The problems started there. The Italians apparently hated metal queen excluders. Mostly they didn't go past the excluder and I am assuming due to that felt cramped. I didn't know there was a problem until I opened the Italians and most of the hive was empty except a few bees, a bunch of drones and some capped queen cells (completely missed a swarm. No idea where it went). Middle of June the Italians swarmed again, this time I saw them; went 15' up in a neighbors tree to get them, smoked them and grabbed as many as I could (think I got 90% of them, couldn't tell if I got the queen). Put them in a deep with a couple empty frames (didn't have any extra drawn ones), and a full feeder. By the next morning the box was empty. Was I supposed to block off the entrance?

The Italians haven't swarmed again since then, but also haven't put much of any wax into the single super on top of the hive. Meh. So they gave me about 20lb of honey at the end of May and since then have just been swarming. Went through the lower two boxes and they are FULL of babies, but little to no honey. Shouldn't they be setting on honey by now for winter in their frames? I just finally removed the queen excluder. Maybe she will go up and lay eggs, but they will have to pull wax first so at least I would wind up with some extra pulled frames... Thoughts? Is that a bad move? Do I just remove the super now? They are the only ones that have a lot of mites; probably because they swarmed twice and bred a lot of drones; but there is also a big pile of dead bees outside the door of the hive. I just cut out a big piece (whole sheet really) of drone comb they built and after freezing it and opening up capped drone cells I am not finding any mites so I am not sure what is going on there.

On to the Russians. Went through the hive this weekend, they haven't put much of any wax in the small super (1 frame partially pulled). Their lower frames have a bit more honey than the Italians but not much. Is this on par for a package? 20 frames of fully pulled out (the lower 2 boxes) and not much else?

Went through the Carns. They not only filled the super skinny with a gallon of honey I was able to extract, but their frames looked really good throughout the lower two boxes. Consistently capped honey across the top and sides with babies in the middle. Extracted about 20lbs of honey from the skinny super and gave the empty frames back to them. Any chance they would fill it again this year, or should I just take it off once it is cleaned out (plant hardiness zone 8A)? They do seem to be getting a LOT more aggressive. The only stings I have gotten are two from the Carns in the last couple weeks. This morning just opening the box they instantly were humming a very angry tone and attacked. Is that normal for this time of year or when you have recently harvested honey? Does that angry last overnight? I can totally see the value of pulled comb though; I assume this extra 20lbs of honey is strictly because they had empty comb to fill up. Is there any source for CLEAN frames of pulled honey super frames or do I just need to keep it up for a couple years to get to the point of having enough?

Have any of you tried/had luck with using a 3 week course of powdered sugar instead of miticides? What about mint oil or creosote smoke? I would really rather use IPS instead of pesticides, but I really don't want to lose all my bees either.

Thanks, and yeah a lot of questions in one post... Just found the forum this morning.

Casey
First in the case of a package spread over 16 fraems. you have a weak colony attempting to fill to much space. IT also appears to me they had already made the turn toward swarming. That would be my interpretation of the honey in the top of the hive. Back filling to reduce the brood nest. lack of eggs would be consistent with this.

An additional thought. honey serves more purpose in a colony than just a food source. and you removed every benefit it serves bu harvesting that honey.

1. you prevented them from producing the post swarm brood necessary for honey production.

2. you prevented them from filling their space making the remaining space manageable temperature wise.

3. you failed to recognize indications of swarm prep even though I would call it strange it was still swarm prep.

Eventually they proved the suspicion of swarming correct. some things you only see with certainty in hind sight. It's tough to be a newbie.

Post swarming they had nothing to rebuild on so they swarmed again. I suspect they are in search of some place they can survive.

As for the swarm capture. if all you got is 90% of the bees I pretty much consider it guaranteed you did not get the queen. You put the bees in a box. they went in search of their queen. That is all I have to say about that.

As for the rest of your experience. it is about what I would expect if my conclusions are correct.

I am not posting this as criticism but in the interests of furthering your understanding of what bees do when and why.

Basically keep bees in a space in accordance with their population. and you can't go snatching honey at any old time just because they have it. they have other uses for it.

Take some time to look at the bees year in detail. Pay attention so you begin to realize what bees are specifically doing and what they will be doing next throughout the seasons. Take honey after the main flow which will be more like July. in our area it is August 20th. According to that you where just a wee bit early in your harvesting.

Keep in mind after harvest they still have to make winter stores. Much of the bees work is not for us. we get a few weeks worth of their production out of every year.
 
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
Top