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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I need to vent and unfortunately this forum gets the brunt of it. My questions are where to find what I'm missing. I've read the books, but I'm either reading the same beginner books ( this is the bee, the queen, the workers. This is a hive. This is how you install a package. This is the main diseases. Etc.). What I really need is more intermediate info that new classes or books don't seem to provide. I never seem to see any classes offered other than rote beginner or master level.

For instance, I've read all the theory for alcohol wash to check varroa levels. 300 bees/ cup bees mason jar, shake, filter, understood. The questions I have is how the devil do you collect the bees? Shake them into a tub? They're always moving, flying. How do you get them into an actual measure, much less the jar? I've done the sticky boards, but count levels and when to maybe treat vary greatly. No clear consensus.

Pollen/early spring/ nectar flows. Maple big source of pollen and nectar. Got it. Read all through the info at the NASA honeybee site, Wikipedia nectar sources, Pollen.com. So was I supposed to throw on the honey supers at the first sign of pollen intake? Did that start my flow? Fed 1:1 and pollen patties since 1st of January and put on supers 5 weeks ago and not a single frame of foundation drawn out. Brood nests looking good. Queens laying, boxes reversed. Yet nothing. Should I have started a brood build up earlier and I've missed the flow? Peach trees blooming now, Bradford pears almost done. Forsythia, tulip trees blooming, blueberries not quite, but nothing is happening in what has been priorly described to me as this massive intake/buildup I should be seeing. Good re-filling of the reversed empty deep, but nothing spectacular. Not tons of new comb, and certainly no build out of the shallows' foundation. And no, I don't have a queen excluder on.

Splits. I've read all the theories there too. All I hear is either 1) too early, not enough drone ( which my hives seem to indicate. Some drone brood noted, but not what I'd call lots) or 2) Everyone in the south is already splitting, making nucs, swarming. I don't seem to be falling in that category either. Would love more info on wintering, managing nucs, but most info goes too technical or too simplistic. Trying to understand why a split isn't a nuc, what a side by side is, how do you keep them from rapidly outgrowing (my biggest question) into deeps. It sounds by definition, a nuc is queen, brood, and stores. If we're always supposed to have one on hand to support our production hives as a source for a spare queen, brood frames, etc, I could see in a week or two it would always be ready to expand into a full size deep. Any info out there on size control?

I've got a baited swarm trap in my yard. But why does everything I've read say I've got to place it high in a tree? The ground doesn't work?

I know beekeeping isn't an exact science. I wish I had a local mentor. Local club always meets when I'm working, so no answers there. I just wish there was more information out there for not newbie/not expert person like myself. Books, online classes, I don't care, just point me to the intermediate corner. I'll put the dunce cap on myself.

So I throw myself at your mercy. Is there or where is there info on flows/dearths? Please don't tell me about "fat bees" vs the pollen collectors. I consider it a good day if I can find the queen. Judging bee size on the landing board, well surely there has got to be a better way in judging flows. My bees have never turned down sugar water feeds, so that isn't a help either. If they are bringing in pollen, are they bringing in nectar? So when should the shallows go on? Do I wait for my drone level to build up before doing splits for well mated queens, or is there a tempurature component as well? How do I get new comb drawn without a constant feed? Isn't that what a flow is for? Is there something wrong with my bees I don't know about? And how the devil do you get a measured amount of bees from a hive into the mason jar?

Lost and confused.
 

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There are videos on doing alcohol washes...some shake off bees onto a box and the slide them into a jar using a paper funnel.
I am new as well...what I lack is experience and regardless of what I read and the help I get from this form the bottom line is me trying...seeing what works and asking for advice and working it through when I fail. It is a learning curve...with a lot to learn. Learn to love the journey:)
 

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hahahahaha... honestly not laughing at you, laughing with you. I have exactly the same problem. No mentor, Information is either remedial or master.
HOWEVER.. I am treatment free, foundation free, use are horizontal hive, and allow swarming so the only answer I can help with is bait hives.
You have probably seen this before but it is a guide to bait hives/swarm traps.
http://ecommons.cornell.edu/bitstream/1813/2653/2/Bait Hives for Honey Bees.pdf

Optimal height seems to be 1 - 5 meters from the ground ~3 - 16 ft. That is not to say that a swarm will not enter a hive on the ground just that it increases you chances if it is higher up. I would go for a comfortable height that you can reach (they get heavy when the bees enter).
 

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There are a cpl of ways to collect 300 bees, or approximately that many. What is important to sampling is consistency. So, whatever technique you use, do it the same way very time.

One way is to find a capped brood comb w/ lots of bees on it, determining that the queen isn't there, scrape the bees off of the comb using a pint jar. Be careful not to scrape the capped brood too much. Get about 1 1/2 to 2 inches of bees in the jar. You'll have to shake the jar to keep them from flying out while setting the frame down and placing the cap loosely on the jar.

You need a can of starting ether nearby. Tap the bottom of the jar knocking the bees to the bottom. Remove the cap just enough to be able to shoot a spritz of ether into the jar. It takes practice to get the right amount, but it isn't much.

Screw the cap on the jar and holding the jar by the cap shake it back and forth like ringing a hand bell, for 30 seconds. Let the dead bees fall to the cap end of the jar. Open the jar and toss the bees out on to a hive cover for counting later if you wish.

Examine the wall of the jar, the bottom, and the cap to see what mites are present.

Another way to collect bees is to find the comb you want to sample from and knock them off into a plastic tub, scoop the bees up in a half cup measuring cup and dump them into a jar. Then do what was described above.

I hope that helps. Come by some time and I'll show you how.
 

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What worked for me:

- reading and searching this forum again and again
- http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm
- http://www.dave-cushman.net/
- books
- putting things in practice (I used one of the hives for "experiments"; fortunatelly it managed to survive the winter despite my often intrusions)
- trying to keep things as simple as posible, though this comes only after gaining the knowledge
- try to relax and be patient

I still have lot to learn and practice with next on my list beeing grafting and making nucleus colonies this spring.

Regards,
Cristian
 

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Check out nybeewellness.org and look for the Mite Check Protocol. There is a list and a video. The video shows checking for migtes using the tub and measuring cup and powdered sugar. It's by the Catskill Mountain Beekeepers.
 

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All of the answers you are looking for are here on BS among the threads. I don't have good luck with the search function but you can try that. It is not unusual that a topic is repeated so you can take each subject on its own and post the question. In a book you get one viewpoint here on BS you are going to get multiple views so the confusion could continue. The most valuable opinions are those that live close to you. Good luck.
 

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Confusion is perfectly normal in the begining as you have to cover so many white spots. It's like a little storm of particles in a glass: after a while the sediments deposits at the bottom and you get a more clear view. The love for bee it's a must... I think. Are there any beekeepers that hates their bees? :)
 

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Your a first year beekeeper with no mentor you are right on track.:D
I am going in to my 5th year of beekeeping and I must say things are 110 % easier then they where in 2009 I to never had a mentor or classes just the inter net and books and hands on .
Go to youtube watch how they do alcohol wash's and every thing else that needs done through the year. You tube is like the dad I never had.;)
cristian Niculae is right The love for bee it's a must . If you love your bees it will get easier and very relaxing it just takes some time to learn .
Good luck.
 

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I am by no means an expert, but I have felt the same as you... Bee patient. I don't think I keep bees, I believe they keep me. I have had bees for 5 years, had up to 6 hives now I'm down to 2. Last week I did a split and started a nuc from one of my hives, haven't checked them yet... going to wait another week for that. I don't treat, I don't know how... afraid to learn. I don't check for mites, I have some SHB that frustrate me and I have suffered some losses due to my ignorance. I didn't know that if you don't treat your bees that there is a special catagory for people who don't treat... I have Micheal Bush's Practical Beekeeping website on speed dial. I have started using foundationless frames and have had a full medium drawn in the last month. I don't look for the queen, I look for the presence of the queen, eggs and small larvae.

I have been lucky enough to have the hives that I do have now survive for 3 years inspite of me. I have one that I like very well and one not so much, the latter I bought a Minnesota Hygenic queen and they come out to headbutt me when I get near. This year I plan to increase to 10 hives before the winter, I have ordered 5 packages that I pick up in May. I make my own boxes, everything except the frames. I want to raise my own queens this year and become independant in a way that I don't have to buy bees or queens. I have put out swarm traps and have had some investigators, so I am hopeful.

Read, watch and do... learn from mistakes, sometimes it's at your expense and sometimes unfortunately, it's at the bees expense, but you will be better through it all. Just keep at it. I go with the 'keep it simple' manner of things. I watch the youtube videos of very good beekeepers who are gracious enough to share thier knowledge and techniques with us. I have read and like the ebooks, I have some that are free that date in the 1800's... Mostly, what I do is compare and try what I think I can do, what I think will work for me and then try it to see if it works for me. One of my sucesses is a foundationless frame "wired" with fishing line, I found this info on in 2 places and tried it and it's great.

Well that's my 2 cents, hope I didn't bore you and good luck...Andy
 

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Is there or where is there info on flows/dearths? Please don't tell me about "fat bees" vs the pollen collectors. I consider it a good day if I can find the queen. Judging bee size on the landing board, well surely there has got to be a better way in judging flows. My bees have never turned down sugar water feeds, so that isn't a help either. If they are bringing in pollen, are they bringing in nectar? So when should the shallows go on?
The answer my friend, is looking in the hive, the answer is looking in the hive.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWwgrjjIMXA&feature=kp
 

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The guy who taught me about alcohol washes takes a frame, makes sure there's no queen on it, then takes the jar and tilts it slightly, and scrapes down from the top with the outside lip...gently. The bees fall right in. In a couple passes, you're set.
 

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>I've got a baited swarm trap in my yard. But why does everything I've read say I've got to place it high in a tree? The ground doesn't work?

The ground works, I caught one last week on the top stair of a staircase leading down a steep slope. I catch many every year and never set them higher than I can reach from the ground. Higher up might increase your chances a bit, as that is where the passing bees are flying by. I caught three on tables the last few weeks also. I have once caught one set at the base of a tree overlooking a valley. Woodpiles work well too. The very best spot: on the stand where you want the hive to reside. No need lift it down, pick it up, to move it, re-box it, or cut it out, just add supers. I got one of those last week also. I am up to seven this year.
 

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Take deep breath and relax. You are putting yourself in an overwhelmed state of mind. You are not going to learn the answers to all those questions at one time. You have the fundamentals now proceed with an open mind. Take one problem and figure it out then go to the next situation and figure it out. You will learn most of what you need to know by actually working the hives with an open mind.
The main flow is probably not on so you may be expecting to much out of you bees as far as building a lot of new comb in the supers. So be patient with them and keep a few records of their activities and the weather and the blooms and it will help next year.
M Bushes website will help a lot. And Walt Wright's writing will help with understanding how the bees react to the nectar flows.
Enjoy the adventure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
There’s money to be made in a book to be written out there. I’ll even suggest a title: “You’ve Made It Through Your 1st Winter, Now What?” or “Help! A Second Year Primer for the Hobby Beekeeper”
Chapter 1: Hive weights. Where/how to get a scale. When/what to feed for max honey production, splits, or Nucs. Opening the brood nest without chilling the brood. When to reverse hive bodies.
Chapter 2: The flow/dearth. (that’ll be worth a whole book right there) When to stop feeding. How to recognize a flow for dummies. Get foundation drawn out fast. How to wire for foundationless. Am I checking too often or not enough. Do I really have a problem or am I just impatient to get Spring started?
Chapter3: Swarms and bait hives. When? Where? How far away and how close from production hives you can set them. Close them up or let them out? When to move them to your yard.
Chapter4: Am I really queenless this spring or are my hives slow to start? Ramping up the queen. Spring queen loss and recovery. Drone dearth and early queen matings.
Chapter 5: When to split, or make nucs with successful queens. How early is too early? How much does it affect honey production vs preventing swarms. How the hobbiest can keep a rescue nuc without constantly worrying about over expansion.
Chapter 6: Step by step alcohol was, powder sugar shake, where to get bees from the hive, high mite counts with supers on and what to do (if anything).
Chapter 7: Storing frames, freezing frames if you only have a side by side fridge. SHB – all the traps and gizmos for keeping it under control.
Chapter 8: When to requeen (age). Requeening the hot hives. Finding the blasted queen reliably.
Chapter 9: Plants for bees whether you have a 1/4th acre, ½ acre, 1 acre, or 10 acres. Does pollen=nectar. (Yes I know you can’t plant enough on small scale to make a difference. But if your neighbors wanted to help – the size grows). Bad plants for bees/honey (I just found out by accident there is a jasmine that make poisonous honey). Pictures would be nice.
I realize some things may not have answers and others are answered here and there. Like I said before, I’m on an intermediate knowledge rant-fest. Just don’t know enough to know if I have troubles or not. Thanks to all of the postings here. I’d be a lot worse off without this site. It had become my virtual mentor.
I really have gone to Randy’s site and read through it. Read through Michael Bush’s site. Tried to search the boards before posting the stupid questions. Googled more topics than the NSA probably wants to know about bees. Watched You Tube. The problem is if you can find the information, it’s so scattered about. And there definitely is a huge gap in knowledge between the beginner info and the expert info. I feel like I can recite bee anatomy verbatim and package bees in my sleep, but getting them to thrive is the really hard part.

Thanks for listening. *taking a deep breath*
 

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I need to vent and unfortunately this forum gets the brunt of it. My questions are where to find what I'm missing. I've read the books, but I'm either reading the same beginner books ( this is the bee, the queen, the workers. This is a hive. This is how you install a package. This is the main diseases. Etc.). What I really need is more intermediate info that new classes or books don't seem to provide. I never seem to see any classes offered other than rote beginner or master level.
Check out the ABA. They offer classes for Apprentice, Journeyman, Master, and beyond. http://www.alabamamasterbeekeepers.com . They are offered throughout the year for members and can lead to certification. But even if you don't want to be certified, they will certainly offer you the kinds of information you are seeking. Plus there are reading lists that are above and beyond the basics.

HTH

Rusty
 
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