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Bloody Monday

2006 Views 8 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  MaryB
Bad day as a beginning beekeeper. Waited for temperature to rise so I could check hive, then wind picked up. Finally around noon started to smoke hive. As soon as I took top cover off the hivetop feeder, I knew has wasn't going to be a fun afternoon. The bees had built burr comb from feeder to top of center frames. When I took feeder off, two frames came with it. Guess I had left to much space between center frames as they had built a beautiful comb down center attached to one frame. I sat the feeder aside and started cleaning burr comb. Pulled end frame out and started inspecting and cleaning. Nice pattern of brood in 3 middle frames (solid) including burr comb. Pull frame with burr comb out of center. Cleaned bottom of feeder (killing and maiming ~ 8 bees. Then it happened while figuring how I was going to remove burr comb from center frame, It fell off. All havoc broke loose, bees going nuts, me smoking like crazy. I quickly closed hive and put feeder back on. Oops, forget to put wall frame back. Smoke, Smoke, Smoke, open hive put wall frame back in. Close hive, put feeder back on. I figure ~20-30 dead bees, wasted comb outside hive (though they did clean out the food sections), many dead brood, missing queen (never did spot her, justs loads of larvae cells). Probably will wait a week, then go back in and check on queen.
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Sounds like a normal day of beekeeping. I think you should get used to it.

Of course seeing things coming, knowing what the lid should feel like when you lift it and what might cause it to feel heavy and how to reach under with the hive tool and break it loose, comes with time. But I did virtually the same thing day before yesterday and I've been doing it for 30 years.

It sure #*$% them off when you do that, doesn't it? And it makes me feel stupid for not paying more attention. But, "If you're not making mistakes, you're not doing anything".
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I heard it this way:"You never learn anything by doing it right"!
If you give the feeder a twist, it will break the comb loose. A little burr comb inside the feeder won't hurt anything if they can still get to the feed. You may have hit he panic button too soon. Dropping something gets a lot of bees in the air fast but if you step back they calm down. Once stimulated the beekeeper moves faster. Bees see only fast motion and that compounds the problem.
Any space left over after 10 frames are installed should be between the outside frames and the wall. That way you can get an outside frame out first and loosen the rest for manipulation. (If you left any space in the center, it was "too much".)
You will kill bees each time you open the hive. That's life.Thousands more will hatch that day. Try to watch someone with experience work bees. Hope this helps.


I did my first ever split yesterday.

While I had the hive open, I lost my balance and fell across the open brood box.

Boy, did I run!

But, the split got made, and I didn't get stung (don't ask me why!).

Sometimes you have to look at the end results. I got the split made and everything shut up properly, you got the hive checked, the bur comb cleaned, and you know your queen is laying.

Sometimes you have to look more at the results than the method. ;)
I got stung on the face last week. So this week I put a wet towel over my head to see if the girls would fly around my face but they didn't....

I've made three splits. Too lazy to spray sugar water. and I don't smoke. I figure if the bees go down when I drape the wet cloth over the opened box, they would stay away from my head if it was covered with a wet cloth. LOL

It worked.
Hive looked much better today, dispite my smoker going out. Had to resort to the liquid smoke I always have at the ready. Bees again have put burr comb from feeder to top of middle frame. No problem this time as I was expecting it to happen and did a 90 degree twist before removing top feeder. Left burr comb in feeder as it is not blocking access. Bees seem to be progessing slowly at filling out frames only two additional since two weeks ago. At this rate it will be three to four weeks before I have to put second deep on. Put a Mann Lake pollen patty in to try to help buildup faster. I am worried about getting the hive big enough to survive the winter. At least I did't kill any bees today (that I know of). Removed bottom board last week as temps are rising to the 80s and up, just have screened bottom board in now to provide ventilation. No sign of mites on removed bottom board, just loads of wax droppings. I have never seen a honey bee around here in the last five years I been living here (Just carpenter and bumbles), so hopefully mites will not be a recurring problem.
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Wow !! Sounds like this was just NOT a good weekend for working the hives. You guys get a chance, you can read about MY adventures in the post I put in. Sounds VERY similar. I just left out all the parts like you put in, but they were there, believe me !!

I just pared it down to tell about my queen escaping. :-<

It's Not The Destination, It's The Journey. We Cannot Change The Wind, But We CAN Trim The Sails.
>Put a Mann Lake pollen patty in to try to help buildup faster.

It won't help them at all this time of year. Real pollen will do much better and I'm betting they will ignore it for the real pollen anyway. I wouldn't feed pollen or substitute once real pollen is readily available.

>I am worried about getting the hive big enough to survive the winter.

Where are you from? You have plenty of time until winter.
I love this site. Reading these posts makes you realize that that you're not the only beekeeper making mistakes. Next time I do something really dumb, (and it won't be long) I'll be able to think of Mintong fighting with the burr comb, Terri falling on the brood frames and Daisy with a wet towel on her head.
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