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Howdy, I'm a relatively new beekeeper in central Florida having bought a couple of colonies about 18 months ago to pollinate a small blueberry farm I take care of. I was somewhat passive with my care until a couple of months ago when I moved my two hives from the farm to my home and through the course of trying to figure out why one was failing became a full blown addict.

I've since acquired four additional colonies I bought as double nuc boxes (Carniolans) that were overflowing. I picked them up on July 7th and in the process of transferring frames from the seller's double nucs to my single deeps only identified 3 queens (marked). Each of the 4 colonies had 10 full frames of bees then some, so I added a second deep once I got them home, checkerboarding in foundationless frames.

Within 3 days of moving them home two colonies killed their queens. By chance I noticed a single bee dragging a much larger, dead bee on the ground and upon inspection it was a marked queen. Two days later while trying to determine which colony it was from I noticed a ball of bees on the ground actively killing another marked queen. I saved her but she didn't survive and determined the third was more than likely queenless when I bought it. I had also split my strong existing colony 3 ways with 2 purchased local queens which they rejected (didn't leave them queenless long enough before introduction I presume) and quickly found myself with 5 of 8 hives lacking queens. My two failed splits had capped queen cells so I gave them a chance to hatch and mate but they were unsuccessful so I combined them back with their original colonies as I was now in danger of running out of egg and larvae frames to donate for queen raising.

Thankfully a local supplier had an unanticipated supply of queens available the last week of July and by this time the once empty foundationless frames were already being built out and filled so I decided to split the four double deep colonies and placed an order for queens for the splits. Two had raised their own queens which were successfully mated but after dividing up bees and resources I still had six fairly even boxes needing queens.

Fast forward to last week and all 6 queens were successfully introduced after leaving their respective colonies queenless for 24-36 hrs each and using of a double layer of tape over the fondant plug (which one hive chewed through the first night, so I added two more). A local well known Ukrainian beekeeper gave me the tip on using tape to prolong the new queens release and give more time for the bees to accept her and it seemed to have done the trick. I had to manually release 3 of them after a week but the others were chewed out within 5-6 days.

One colony had built out several queen cells which were capped on the day I went to release their queen (August 5) so I decided wth and further split it into 3 nuc's giving two a frame with capped queen cells, bees and resources, and the third the queen and bees etc.

Needless to say it's been a really busy and expensive month getting everything situated assembling and painting equipment, check on the status of queenless hives etc. and sadly I lost one of my splits yesterday to a hive beetle infestation (absconded) but am left with 10 strong colonies (including my two originals one of which was near death 2 months ago) and 2 more awaiting newly hatched queens to return mated. I can have 24 colonies on my 2 acres and have a few other properties for my use and currently plan to build to somewhere around 100 hives, managed more on the side of treatment free though I'm not against feeding splits and struggling colonies and treating with natural remedies. I'm also going foundationless but may consider a combo of foundation outside the brood boxes though I don't currently have plans to use queen excluders.

Anyhow, thanks to everyone who has shared information here and elsewhere, it has made it possible to learn a lot without the help of a mentor and I look forward to learning further from the wealth of knowledge contained here.

Hunter
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Hi Hunter. Welcome to Beesource. Where in central Florida are you located?
 

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I'm nw of Orlando in Apopka. My main bee yard once I'm maxed out at my home will be in volusia county just inland from New Smyrna beach, about 50 miles east of my home.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Also, I didn't see an option to list a location on my profile.

*edit* never mind, just logged in from a computer and completed my profile, there wasn't an option from my phone.
 

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Hello; You are a busy beekeeper!
Lol, some of it was self induced trying to expand too rapidly without enough experience but the new colonies killing their own queens was out of my control. From my perspective they had no reason to kill them as they were newer queens purchased this year by the man I bought the the bees from and were highly productive. Aside from the one that was queenless when I bought it which had mainly honey, they were packed with bees and several full frames of brood in various stages, much more eggs and brood than resources. I joked with my wife that maybe they killed the queens because they wanted a break!
 

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Lol, some of it was self induced trying to expand too rapidly without enough experience but the new colonies killing their own queens was out of my control. From my perspective they had no reason to kill them as they were newer queens purchased this year by the man I bought the the bees from and were highly productive. Aside from the one that was queenless when I bought it which had mainly honey, they were packed with bees and several full frames of brood in various stages, much more eggs and brood than resources. I joked with my wife that maybe they killed the queens because they wanted a break!
You mentioned this:”I've since acquired four additional colonies I bought as double nuc boxes (Carniolans) that were overflowing. I picked them up on July 7th and in the process of transferring frames from the seller's double nucs to my single deeps only identified 3 queens (marked). Each of the 4 colonies had 10 full frames of bees then some, so I added a second deep once I got them home, checkerboarding in foundationless frames.”

Did you checkerboard brood frames?

https://youtu.be/2wrW_04iJ_c This is a video from the National Honey show in the UK on changes in queens.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I kept the brood together for the most part but if I remember correctly had an empty frame between the outside frames of brood and the next frame of pollen/nectar. I also kept larvae and uncapped brood toward the inside. I haven't had time to watch the video, do you mind summarizing?
 

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It’s is observation regarding changes in honey bee behavior regarding queens; supersedure of new young queens, disappearing queens, and more, I can’t remember it all. What you described happening reminded me of that video.I don’t have the experience of noticing the changes Roger Patterson describes, but have witnessed what he has observed. Here are some other sites for great information besides the people on here: http://www.dave-cushman.net/ http://pinkpages.chrisbacherconsulting.com/Alphabetical_index.html
And on this site Walt Wright has some great papers posted along with others, I think he might have discovered “checker boarding”
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the links, I'll be sure to watch them when I have time. That's all I've done the last couple of months with everyone bit of "free" time I've had, researched bee stuff. I use quotations because I've spent a lot of time I that wasn't free time researching too. I can't get enough!
 

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Best of luck. Keep a close eye on the mites though. Treatment free is tricky and the mites can get away from you before you notice. Sadly, speaking from experience here.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Hey Hunter, Maybe we will get a chance to meet someday. My niece lives in Apopka off of Hiawassee and we try to get down to see her at least once a year. Also have a house and family in Ocala, so there is a real reason to get down there periodically.
 

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Best of luck. Keep a close eye on the mites though. Treatment free is tricky and the mites can get away from you before you notice. Sadly, speaking from experience here.
Thanks, I'm an organic blueberry farmer and although my main strategy is to keep the plants as healthy as possible so they fight off pests and disease on their own I am not opposed to using organic pesticides and herbicides when necessary. So it goes with my own health and bees, so I'm definitely not a purist when it comes to treatment free. I hadn't been to a doctor in 18 years until a year ago when I got a catfish spine lodged in my hand and had to have it cut out. The antibiotics made me sick for two days.

Before I bought the most recent colonies, one of my two originals was in really poor shape. I had to reduce their space back to a nuc box as it was down to just 3 frames of bees. I concluded they had both a varroa issue as well as tracheal mites and opted to treat with a mineral oil fogging. I know some people haven't had any success with such a treatment but it worked for me and after the second treatment haven't seen any sign of either mite varieties and the colony is now thriving. The queen is at least nearly 2 years old and is still laying full brood frames and they've now filled out a second nuc and are ready to be moved into a deep and a second box. I've also stolen two brood frames from it in the last month to help the new colonies that went queenless. I reckon if I hadn't done that they would be nearing filling out 20 frames by now. I also run beetle towels and traps although my new Carniolans shredded the towels and removed them, well at least as much of them as they could. They made a mess of things and trapped a handful of bees as well so I stopped using them for a couple of weeks afraid they would ensnare the queen. A guy at the supply house told me to stretch them out across the whole box and wedge the ends in between the frames and the box so I tried that and reinstalled them a few days ago. So far I haven't seen any come out the entrance.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Hey Hunter, Maybe we will get a chance to meet someday. My niece lives in Apopka off of Hiawassee and we try to get down to see her at least once a year. Also have a house and family in Ocala, so there is a real reason to get down there periodically.
Let me know when you're in town again, I'm really close to your niece, Hiawassee is just a couple of miles down the road. Quick story about bees in Ocala National Forest. I hunt there a lot and about 20 years ago I was sitting in a tree in the sand pine scrub in November and heard an unusual hum. I took a while to realize it was coming from millions of bees in the sand pines. At the time I knew nothing of bee behavior and was worried if I took a shot that I'd get mauled by them. I was at least a couple of miles from where there would have been an apiary so I'm guessing they were mostly ferals. They were everywhere, covering acres of trees from my hunt spot all the way to the truck.
 

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HTB:

Welcome to Beesource- I enjoyed reading your introduction and the follow-up discussion in this thread. I am impressed that you have been able to adapt, improvise and keep progressing despite some of the challenges you have experienced this year- and we can all identify with self-inflicted problems as we've all made our fair share of them.

Best of success to you in your beekeeping efforts- I do sincerely hope that the treatment-free approach works for you.

Russ
 

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Thanks Russ, in hindsight I guess I'm glad I had problems right out of that gate as it gave me a good crash course education so to speak, you don't learn as much with smooth sailing. I'm hoping there is at least one other larger scale/commercial beekeeper in central florida who is treatment free who doesn't mind sharing his or her experience. I have one location that is quite isolated that I hope will help given how many big bee yards there are around.
 
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