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Russian Bees
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have not done an inspection yet, but the bees are coming out for cleansing flights and cleaning out the dead. On the really warm days, hundreds appear to be buzzing about the hive.

First winter appears to be a success. Now what?

I don't plan to start a commercial operation here. The bees can keep their honey. I just like having them and watching them. I may grab a little, but that's it as far as I'm concerned.

I'm worried about swarming and plan to build a trap.

I'm also considering building or purchasing a top bar or cathedral hive as they look very nice. I'm thinking two hives may be better than just one.

So, as I enter year two, what should be my goals? Expand?
Learning more as I go I suppose.
 

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Small Cell Nucs
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I have not done an inspection yet, but the bees are coming out for cleansing flights and cleaning out the dead. On the really warm days, hundreds appear to be buzzing about the hive.

First winter appears to be a success. Now what?

I don't plan to start a commercial operation here. The bees can keep their honey. I just like having them and watching them. I may grab a little, but that's it as far as I'm concerned.

I'm worried about swarming and plan to build a trap.

I'm also considering building or purchasing a top bar or cathedral hive as they look very nice. I'm thinking two hives may be better than just one.

So, as I enter year two, what should be my goals? Expand?
Learning more as I go I suppose.
62627
 

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6a 4th yr 9 colonies inc. 2 resource hives
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Congratulations! Over wintering is a big deal. I’m in 6a. Too cold to go into the colonies but warm enough on the nice days to add a shim and lay in pollen patties and remaining fondant on top of the bars before closing up. I did that a week ago. Also feeding dry pollen in a paper bag alongside warm water on a dinner plate with sponges to prevent drowning.

Think carefully about apiary size. A sustainable apiary is 5 from studies I’ve read. Biggest mistake at this point is growing too much too soon and losing enthusiasm. My size is 5 production hives with 1 (2 queen) resource hive. So far I’m overwintering 100% again and really enjoy this size apiary. You will find your own number.

After feeding comes assessments, rebalancing and reversing. Put simply you want to measure the strength and vigor of each hive. Are my queens laying well, remove winter wraps, how do their stores look. Switch to liquid feed when its warmer. Your work is easier when hives are of equal strength. Moves frames around to knock the big ones down and boost smaller ones up. This also helps in swarming. Read and watch swarm prevention techniques. Be sure to stay on top of mites. I may do a few OAV knock backs before serious mite work in August and fall.

I also have large plastic totes with emergency frames of feed. The totes are essential storage when you want to take away frames in a honey or pollen bound hive. Think of this as a pantry. Good luck in this next phase.
 

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I would like to congratulate you, but winter is not over yet in Wyoming. This is when your hives can starve, especially now that they are occasionally breaking cluster.
It is time for you to do a quick inspection of your upper box to see what they have left for stores. If they have a lot left, congratulations! J
 

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Santa Cruz, CA
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Congrats!

What type of hive are you currently keeping and what's the winter setup?

And I'd avoid top bar hives. They have a reputation for...well...being terrible.
 

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Russian Bees
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Last year, I bought a kit for a Lang hive. It's now 3 deep, but the bees only occupy 2 deep. I made a custom air tight 1/2 inch foam box to slide over it. The inside has tin foil on one side (part of the foam) and I added 1/8 inch felt spacers so that the wooden hive cannot contact the tin foil. I did this so that no IR radiation could leak out. It may be minor benefit, but the way I see it, anything to help the bees. The foam box is so air tight, I cannot detect any heat leakage using an IR camera. I also did this to create an airtight wind break as it get's pretty darn windy. A third deep box is on top and it is stuffed with a wool blanket and topped off with straw, and then the top lashed down with a strap.

It's still too windy and chilly here for me to invade their space as this is the worst time of year for wind. I will inspect when I feel comfortable with the weather. I have not touched their honey since starting and the last inspection revealed they were topped off (well packed) before winter set in.

The hive is on a 4 inch PVC post well planted in the ground to deter mice, bugs, racoons, and other vermin about 2 feet off the ground.

Right now the bees are out tanking up on water and doing whatever else they like to do.
It's 57F and blowing 15 MPH.
 

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Santa Cruz, CA
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Maybe you should be giving lessons on overwintering hives in your area...impressive!

I think you're on the right track. Check them when you get a nice warm day and low wind. This will give you an idea of what's going on in there and next steps.

Those next steps would depend on your goals as a beekeeper. Are you wanting honey? Splits for more hives? Just the strongest healthiest hive ever?
 

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Russian Bees
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Strong healthy hive would be a good start.

We just noticed that the bees are converging on our duck feeders. Ducks not happy about that.

I suspect they are attracted to the smell of the ground corn mixed with duck dribble (moisture from the beaks mixed with corn), so I just donned my bee suit and pried open the entrance to install a bee feeder with 50/50 sugar-water just in case. I marked the starting level and will check it before sunset.
 

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Santa Cruz, CA
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It's pretty common to get bees on feed early in the year. It's the protein they are after which tells us you need to get a dry pollen feeder out, some pollen patties onto the hive, or both. At least until you have enough natural forage to keep them fed. This will also boost their numbers for your first flow. Our first flow is in January so I start feeding protein in November. I sure get some giant hives just in time for the bloom!

I wish I could get some of that Wyoming bloom during our hardest time of year though, July - October we nearly have zero nectar/pollen.
 

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Russian Bees
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
...I'd avoid top bar hives. They have a reputation for...well...being terrible.
Well, the idea is to stay away from step stools and lifting whole boxes loaded with honey. Last thing I need to contend with is an injured back or falling off stools. I did not forsee managing a towering beehive.

Still researching alternatives. The Cathederal hive looks very interesting and more manageable.
 

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Santa Cruz, CA
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Sounds like a long lang is right up your ally. You can use the same frames between the two but a long lang requires no heavy lifting of boxes.

Your hive is rather tall making things more difficult. I tend to keep mine about 12" off the ground so when they are loaded, they are about eye level with me at 6'. Maybe another point for a long lang as you can put them at your comfortable working height.
 

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Russian Bees
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
PVC is pretty easy to cut down. But I will look into a long lang.

I like the idea of natural hanging honeycomb. It has a natural beauty to it as well. So many options.
 

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Russian Bees
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Corn. 4 grams of protein per cup.

If it's the protein they is after, they can share it with the ducks. They spill more corn than they can eat. :ROFLMAO:
 

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Santa Cruz, CA
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Corn. 4 grams of protein per cup.

If it's the protein they is after, they can share it with the ducks. They spill more corn than they can eat. :ROFLMAO:
That should tell you just how desperate they are for it.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Bees in chicken feed is a common sight in the spring when the bees need protein and are so hungry for it that they will consume anything that has it, no matter how poor of a source. This is a sure sign that you need to provide a pollen sub of some kind, either patties in the hive or dry sub in a feeder. If they get desperate enough, they will eat the eggs the queen in laying.
 

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Small Cell Nucs
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Corn. 4 grams of protein per cup.

If it's the protein they is after, they can share it with the ducks. They spill more corn than they can eat. :ROFLMAO:
I love your setup with the hive and all, It looks really good, alot of thought put into it. But your beehive is going to get extraordinarily heavy if you havent seen them full before. I was trying to use log strappings on to trees for my first hives and the bearing weight is very uneven. I had a hive fall over because of the weight distribution being so much to the front of the hive. I bet I had 500 lbs. between 3 nucs each stacked 5 high last summer. Maybe more??? But if your aware of the weight and how uneven the bees distribute it then hopefully the PVC is like schedule 80 or some kind of precaution taken. :)
 

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Russian Bees
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I won't be stacking any higher than what you see.
I'll also look for some pollen to feed my bees.
 
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