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Hi!

After several years of lurking the forums, searching them and browsing the archives, I'm now starting my second year of beekeeping. Last year, the 2 packages with which I started were severely damaged by last minute equipment- and weather-related delays in hiving them, half or more of the workers were dead before hiving, then I learned the hard way that:
  • The screening in packages tends to keep inexperienced eyes from discerning how deep the piles of dead versus live bees are.
  • If you are in the Mid-to-Deep South, but north of the Gulf Coast, the spring flow will be ALMOST OVER if not GONE before your bees arrive, making feeding MANDATORY FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR.
  • Granulated sugar is ignored in warm weather while the bees are in fact starving.
  • ALL that traffic is the STUPID hives ROBBING EACH OTHER ENDLESSLY INTO OBLIVION;
  • If you obtain 2 additional packages, and don't requeen them with non-Italians and don't use robbing screens, they'll ROB THE FIRST HIVES and each other INSTEAD of foraging.
  • Robbing screens are MANDATORY, NOT OPTIONAL, on new/1st-year hives.
  • Given small pans of syrup, even with floats, the little ditzes will seemingly impossibly drown themselves in droves rather than just drink the stuff in moderation.
  • More ants than you suspected were around will pile into hives after the syrup.
  • If you finally block ants from getting into the last surviving hive of the first pair, and the queen along with the last workers are in a plastic deluxe feeder on top of the hive, don't put her back down into the apparently-deserted medium hive body and trap her there with a queen excluder just because she's SUPPOSED to be down there without checking thoroughly in EVERY LOWER CORNER to spot the group of a dozen or so large, hungry red ants you've incidentally stranded there with the expensive captive queen buffet :cry:.
  • It is possible to use the Mountaincamp method to overwinter two "hives", one of 2-3 medium frames and one of 4-5 medium frames, in Tennessee.
  • When you cut out queen cells, don't seal them into plastic bags (apparently they suffocate inside the cocoons :cry:).
  • The demented little bleeps will swarm if they feel vertically confined in one medium even if they haven't yet drawn out all the frames in that medium.
  • If one 1-medium hive has queen cells about to hatch and there's another 1-medium hive with even fewer bees than the first, search it for swarm cells also, even if it's dusk and you're about to drop from exhaustion, especially if you have a queen excluder between the queen and the hive entrance.
  • DON'T order Russian queens from Dwight Porter/Porter Farms, because after his website takes your money, you'll get *nothing* in return (for 13 WEEKS so far).
I'll extend the list as more Block-buster class manure-filled warheads hit from the fleet of immense Crapocopiae parked in geosynchronous orbit above my beeyard (Why isn't it ever USEFUL manure? WHO gave that fleet my coordinates for target practice, anyway? :ws:).
[ Shovel, shovel, excavate, shovel--[BOOM! Yet *another* methane pocket explodes :eek: -- who needs dynamite?]--shovel, shovel.] <Sarcasm On> "Sure, I'm just doing hands-on field research for my upcoming book, "How To Dig Hitler-Class Underground Bomb Shelters Using Earth Berms Of Compressed, Radioactive, Plague-Laced Manure During Heavy Precision Bombardment From High Orbit." </Sarcasm Off> "As if Hitler ever had to dig this deep ...."

 

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Looks like you've run into a gauntlet of problems your first year. Sorry to hear that, but glad you are keeping on. You shouldn't have THAT much of a robbing problem, you might be doing something wrong. Do you have a mentor?

Welcome to the site!
 

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> * The screening in packages tends to keep inexperienced eyes from discerning how deep the piles of dead versus live bees are.

True. Always good to look. A really good one you can see the wood on the bottom. The bees on the floor are all mostly dead. 99.99% of the live ones will be clustered.

> * If you are in the Mid-to-Deep South, but north of the Gulf Coast, the spring flow will be ALMOST OVER if not GONE before your bees arrive, making feeding MANDATORY FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR.

But that is also the cause of your robbing and often leads to swarming in a package far too small to be swarming.

> * Granulated sugar is ignored in warm weather while the bees are in fact starving.

In my experience they will eat when starving. If they are not interested spray it with some water and get the edges of it damp.

> * ALL that traffic is the STUPID hives ROBBING EACH OTHER ENDLESSLY INTO OBLIVION;

Maybe. You should never let robbing continue. Stop it immediately by whatever means necessary.
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesrobbing.htm

> * If you obtain 2 additional packages, and don't requeen them with non-Italians and don't use robbing screens, they'll ROB THE FIRST HIVES and each other INSTEAD of foraging.

Admittedly Italians are worse, but any of them will rob given a lot of feeding and the opportunity. Always keep the entrances as small as possible without causing a traffic jam. Most of this is caused by feeding.

> * Robbing screens are MANDATORY, NOT OPTIONAL, on new/1st-year hives.

I have some. I almost never use them... I think you have other issues. But once you let robbing get started it is difficult to get it stopped.

> * Given small pans of syrup, even with floats, the little ditzes will seemingly impossibly drown themselves in droves rather than just drink the stuff in moderation.

Almost any method seems to drown some sometimes. You need more floats if they are drowning in any significant numbers.

> * More ants than you suspected were around will pile into hives after the syrup.

Caused by feeding...

> * When you cut out queen cells, don't seal them into plastic bags (apparently they suffocate inside the cocoons ).

Yes. The different cappings on brood is because of pollen and bits of cocoon that are added to the wax to make it breathable. This is true of all kinds of brood including queens.

> * The demented little bleeps will swarm if they feel vertically confined in one medium even if they haven't yet drawn out all the frames in that medium.

Feeding constantly is almost guaranteed to cause this even in a recent package install. If you have doubts, a queen excluder will seal the deal.
 
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