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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We're new beeks and we installed our very first two packages (Carniolans from NZ) on Tuesday evening. The weather was good then but was a bit cold. The weather has not been nice bee weather at all. Yesterday was about 10C then down to 7C at night. Today is 10C and rain. Tomorrow looks good, 18C and sunny but rain and cold Sat and Sun.

Honestly, the online reading and videos prepared us well. The package installation was almost melodramatic, even though I dropped the second queen cage into the tube and then had to fish it out of the mound of bees at the bottom of the hive...no harm done.

We did want more than two packages when we ordered so I asked on Tuesday if they had extras, they said they did not. Well, that changed. I just got back from the bee store with five more packages. They are still in tubes as we mix up more syrup, I'm not sure which way I want to go with this...hive today in the cold and rain...we'd have to hive in the garage then carry the hive out to the apiary OR, let them sit another night and hive them tomorrow when it's not raining and a bit warmer. Suggestions?

I'm very happy this resource exists, I've done a lot of reading and have learned much. Mostly I've learned how much I don't know.
 

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Jumping in head first with 7 packages in your first season.... kudos to you! You could go either way with installing your packages. If it is just cold out, you can hive them, but add in moisture and you could cause some problems. If the packages have just recently been made, and you are sure to have better weather tomorrow, I would wait until the morning. However, this would just be my personal preference. Good luck with whatever you do! Enjoy your new bees!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It stopped raining about 4:30 so we grabbed the opportunity. We managed to get all five additional packages hived by about 6:30. About 15 minutes after we were done, it started to rain again. I hope the carnies are going to be ok out there, it's not a nice evening...10C now (50F). Forecast low is 4C (39F). It was a bad week to get packages.
 

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It's cold and they need food, so I would watch that close. They may not be able to take syrup if it's too cold for long.
 

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Just like winter feeding, I would put at least a little sugar on top of the frames with newspaper and wet it down a little (Mountain camp feeding) till it warms up. If it's 50 degrees or more, syrup would work though. Bear in mind that large temperature swings of 30 degrees or so can cause the syrup to leak out of an inverted jar feeder. I drenched a small nuc once when the temp went from cool night to very warm one day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The girls had a great day...well, a better day than they've had in nearly a week. Temp was 19 C, sunny, calm wind. I saw many bees out flying, doing that orientation flight thing a lot. It seems that each hive is doing fine.

The weather is supposed to hold until tomorrow afternoon so we plan to open each hive tomorrow morning to check things and put that newspaper/sugar feed solution in place...I wanted my wife's help this evening but the timing didn't work so we should be good for tomorrow morning.

Here's a little video. Please be kind, remember, I'm very green and it's been cold and rainy here so some things are left undone.

 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
We just got in from inspecting all hives and adding the paper/sugar feeder to the frame tops. We were excited to find five of seven queens out and the other two will be out today by the look of it. I didn't disturb many frames because we've gone with all foundationless V bar deep lang frames but, I did see a nice start on some comb in hive #3. In #4, the "dead hive" we call it, the one that came out of the tube in a motionless lump on Thursday, there was a lot of mortality on the bottom board so we swapped that out. Since I have the top entrances blocked and a very small entrance at the bottom, I didn't want dead bees blocking that bottom entrance.

So we now have frame feeders in all hives, about half full now, pollen patties and the "mountain camp" feeding on top of the frames. I won't be able to see them again until at least Tuesday as we're getting some nasty weather coming this way...possibly snow and well below freezing Sunday night.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The temperature got to over 22C this afternoon so we sat and watched the hives a while. I like what we saw all except hive number 5. Can anyone explain what we are seeing there? All the other six hives seem to have a good amount of activity but number five is very quiet, and there are bees outside looking like they have sugar on them. What, if anything, have we done wrong? As far as what we've done, we've done the same to all seven hives. Any suggestions are appreciated. Thanks.


 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I couldn't stand it, I had to look. I know exactly why there is almost no activity at the entrance to #5. It's because there are NO BEES IN THE HIVE! The only thing I can think happened is, when we opened up to install the Mountain Camp feeder, the queen flew out. I guess there's nothing we can do about it beside kissing $200 good-bye! :-( ...and then there were six.

Had we stuck around, it would have been interesting, and terrifying, to see the bees pouring out of the hive.
 

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Well it happens a lot with package bees. Likely not your fault. Often this is a queen problem. Either due to poor mating or some damage she recieved in route. This is common. Your bees from that hive likely drifted to a adjacent colony (or colonies) and those hives will be nice and strong. Likely all you lost was the queen which is still a loss but if your season permits perhaps you can purchase another queen in the months ahead and make a new colony. Best of luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
A quick update on the packages. Out of seven packages, one hive absconded...still not sure exactly why but I'm getting the impression that sometimes it just happens. The other six seem to be doing well. I'll describe the situation and if anyone has comments or suggestions, please send them my way.

The queens were all released by Friday the 15th of May.

I still have frame feeders in and some sugar cake on top of the frames along with a pollen patty. They seem to be still interested in all three. I plan to switch to hive top feeders this weekend so I can refill them more easily. How do you fill a frame feeder without drowning all the bees which are in the tubes?

I see pollen going into most of the hives. I did sneak a peak at a couple hives and the girls are busy drawing comb. Foolishly or not, I gave them all foundationless frames (with the Michael Bush style V board at the top) and from what I can see, they are drawing perfect comb so far.

I still have the top entrances blocked and the queen includer on the bottom entrance along with a 2"? reducer.

So, what's my next step? I figure I should be collecting a super of honey off each hive in about a week...no? (I couldn't even type that with a straight face) From what I've read, I'll keep feeding 2:1 until they have most or all the comb drawn...any comments on that approach?

I'm thinking I should be able to take off the includer soon.

I have solid bottom boards on five of these, I just didn't have seven of them when the surprise extra five packages were available. I plan to build more screened bottom boards asap.

Do I wait until the frames are about 75% full of brood, pollen and nectar before adding a second brood chamber?

Are there any "treatments" I should be considering? I'd love to be TF but, I also want to give these girls the best shot. I think they got a pretty rough start on things so I don't want to stress them too much.

When should I be getting baby bees born? I'm sure those packages could use some reinforcements!
 

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Hi faith apiaries, it is best to wait till the bees are nearly busting at the seams on their first box before adding another. I typically add a box when the colony has begun working the 9th and 10th frames. I suggest you use a soft treatment the first few years till you have had a few years of successful beekeeping. This will save you a lot of frustration and a lot of money.

On the feeding I would put 2 gallons of hot water into a bucket and mix in 25-30lb of sugar into it. A drill with a paint stir on the end does wonders.

Yes it is good to keep the entrances reduced till the bees are out of the woods. Just take some off as they grow and have more foragers working.

I have never used a frame feeder with tubes before. I hundreds of the plain jane ones from Dadant throw a few stick in and you don't drown but a few. Hate it but part of being a bee and beekeeper.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Today we went out to remove the frame feeders and the sugar cakes from the hives and to install hive top feeders. According to my extensive ten days of beekeeping experience, the hives looked really good! There was quite a bit of comb drawn in every hive...some more than others but there was at least a good start in each hive. We've gone completely foundationless and they seem to be respecting that pretty well. One issue I have is, I was unable to put any wire in the frames before hiving the bees (lack of equipment). As soon as I have everything I need, I'll be wiring some frames and replacing anything that doesn't have a considerable amount of combe drawn already.

I was unable to remove any frames for fear of destroying the still fragile comb. Here's one of the hives.

Top Bar Comb Built.jpg
 

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i think she was not from that hive. you noticed how she shared a bit of her honey with one of the other bees. she was a young bee too, i guess first time forager. she was tired. it hapens if she had to fly far for nectar, and when she came back she landed on the hive next door. usually, if bees come back with nectar, the other hives will let them in, and they will bribe their way in the colony. it hapents a lot with "in line hives" especially on a windy day, when you will notice the corner hive, will get a bit more bees....not uncommon. keep observing them like that, you will learn a lot about their behaviour.

While watching the hives today, about 6 PM, we noticed some activity on one of the landing boards. What are these bees doing? Are those bees keeping the other bee from entering the hive?

 
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