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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all, after reading this board for two weeks I figured I'd register and get to asking some questions. I've been interested in beekeeping for about 2 years now ever since my (as of a few weeks ago) fiance's grandfather introduced me to his hives. Ever since I've been reading all I can and I've been trying to get as much knowledge as possible. This last weekend I discovered that you can have all the knowledge in the world but only experience can truly teach you. My fiance's grandfather has gotten too old to manage his hives and has decided to retire from beekeeping as is giving me all of his equipment. including:

5 full hives (two had bees until this past weekend)
1 10 or 20 frame hand cranked extractor
lots of woodenware for frames and supers
a complete bee suit
and everything else bee related he has

Well, he felt that one of the two active hives that he had was africanized and the other was getting very weak from robbing so we decided to euthanize them and start over with fresh packages in the spring. My brother in Austin is going to allow me to keep everything at his house in Austin in for a yearly supply of honey.

After taking two weeks to figure out the best way to euthanize the bees we decided to use soapy water and simply brush the bees into a pan of it with a 5 gallon bucket on hand to refill it. It worked GREAT. The only problem was, we only had one suit and we had africanized bees. So guess who got to do his first opening of a hive all by his self which included a complete take down of two hives and the killing of all those wonderful bees... :D It was an amazing experience!

Okay, all that back ground just to ask a few questions...

1) I've heard Mr. Bush and a few others talking alot about natural cell and small cell. I'm very interested in moving in that direction. Is there any advise that you can give about starting packaged bees on it?

2) Is there anyone who can give me information on some good places to get package bees for a good price in Texas?

3) Is there anyone who can tell me about the desease and mite conditions in the Austin area?

4) Is there anyone in the Dallas or Austin areas who would be willing to let a 22 year old come and learn under you?

5) I'm sure there is somthing I'm not thinking about, so I'll continue the questions when I come up with them... ;)

Thank you for all the help and I look forward to conversing with you all soon.

Doug

[ December 09, 2005, 12:01 AM: Message edited by: daknoodle ]
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Oh I just remembered a few more questions...

6) I've seen some pictures on Mr. Bush's site and a few others that have done vertical, long hives. Can you give me some more information on them and also maybe some diagrams?

7) Whats the benefit between medium and deep brood chambers?

Thanks again,

Doug

[ December 09, 2005, 12:02 AM: Message edited by: daknoodle ]
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yet another...

8) I want to stay as natural and non-chemical as I can. Any tips and ideas?

Doug
 

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>1) I've heard Mr. Bush and a few others talking alot about natural cell and small cell. I'm very interested in moving in that direction. Is there any advise that you can give about starting packaged bees on it?

The simple answer is just use 4.9mm, small cell, foundation (available from Dadant or Brushy Mt). If you want to use foundationless frames you can either put a wooden strip in the top bar where the foundation goes or you can add a triangular comb guide. If you want to cut starter strips of foundation (3/4" wide strips of foundation put in the top bar) this can work also. How you attach the foundation depends on the design of the frame. If it's a grooved top bar you'll need to wax the strip in. If it's a "wedge" top bar you'll need to nail the wedge in to hold it. Make sure you put the wedge on a DIFFERENT frame than it came off of, if it's a used frame. That way the nail holes WON'T match and it will hold better. Otherwise, install the package like any of the books say and it should work fine.


>2) Is there anyone who can give me information on some good places to get package bees for a good price in Texas?

I've done business with both of the Weavers (from back before they split into two) for years and they are local to you. I have had some hot queens from them, but only once (2000 queens that went berserk in 2001 after the hives swarmed). They would probably do fine and if they get hot you can requeen them. I wouldn't kill all the bees. I would just seperate all the boxes onto their own bottom and lid. Put an empty box at the old location for the field bees and search each box for the queen. One box is usualy pretty managable.

>3) Is there anyone who can tell me about the desease and mite conditions in the Austin area?

Varroa are bad everywhere. The only things you might have there that everyone in North American doesn't have is probably Africanized bees.

>6) I've seen some pictures on Mr. Bush's site and a few others that have done vertical, long hives. Can you give me some more information on them and also maybe some diagrams?

Mine are just the same dimensions as a langstroth medium box except longer. If you take the 16 1/4" ends and make them longer, that's pretty much it. My mediums are designed to include the space at the bottom board, so they are just one by eights with a rabbet for the frame rest and then either 1/4" laun for a bottom or 1/8" hardware cloth for the bottom. So mine are three boxes long (48 3/4") by the standard Langstroth frame length (19 7/8" outside for the boxes for 19" long top bars).

>7) Whats the benefit between medium and deep brood chambers?

Mediums are easier to lift (60 pounds full of honey for a ten frame box) Deeps will hurt your back (90 pounds full of honey for a ten frame box). I'm fond of the eight frame mediums (48 pounds full of honey)

>8) I want to stay as natural and non-chemical as I can. Any tips and ideas?

Natural, or 4.9mm small cell size. Don't use chemicals. Monitor the mites to make sure what you're doing is working. I have never used Fumidil or Checkmite, I haven't used Terramycin since 1976 and I've only used Apistan a couple of times four and five years ago in 31 years. If you don't want to use chcmicals, then don't.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Dave

I love what you built, any chance you might a have writen out diagram or dimentions of some sort? I'm not so good at "eyeing" woodwork and making it work for myself. Also, you had mentioned 15 top bars with the rest as frames. How do you keep the brood nest only on those 15 top bars and can someone tell me how to use top bars with a package?


Sorry for all the questions guys, I just really want to start off good and strong. I was always taught to learn from other peoples mistakes first... :D

Thanks again for all the help.

Doug
 

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>any chance you might a have writen out diagram or dimentions of some sort?

Mine are outside dimensions of 7 1/4" deep by 48 3/4" long by 19 7/8" wide. The frame rest rabbet is 3/4" deep and 3/8" wide and runs the legnth of the long sides. The distance from the inside of the rabbets is 19 1/8" and the top bars (or Langstroth frames) are 19".

>can someone tell me how to use top bars with a package?

In my KTBH I just put the package in the hive and let them do what they wanted. In my TTBHs (Tanzanian TBH), it's the same dimensions as a long Langstroth medium, so I starter all of them in five frame medium nucs and move them up through eight and ten frame boxes before moving them into the long box. A division board that could be moved back would probably do just as well. A division board is just a board cut to fit like a frame only tight to the ends and bottom and is used to "divide" the hive. By limiting the space they have to work with I seem to get straighter combs than when they have the whole hive to themselves. I also get straighter comb if I keep feeding bars between nice straight combs, especially in the brood nest or capped combs. I made half my bars 1 1/4" and half 1 1/2" and I through a "cheater" in now and then to get back on track, when the bees get too far off by making really fat honey combs.
 

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"How do you keep the brood nest only on those 15 top bars"

the theory is the bee's build their brood nest close to the entrance and store honey deeper in the hive
this is all new to me so I can't say for sure
spring is gonna be a big experiment
I can't wait

Michaels dimentions are what I used
If you want to see em written down, bwrangler who moderates this forum has a real nice website with drawing and lot's of info

http://bwrangler.litarium.com/tanzanian-top-bar-hive/

Dave
 

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The bees want the brood nest in one area. It may be in the front or it may be in the back. But it will be in one area. The rest will be used for honey and pollen, with the pollen closer to the brood nest.

Think of the brood nest as a ball that expands from early spring until summer and contracts in dearths and in the fall. The bees have to keep it warm and need a supply of open nectar or honey and pollen nearby to feed them. The rest of the hive is surplus for winter stores. The bees have no interest in spreading brood all over the place where it will be difficult to keep it warm and cared for.
 

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So then, when they need to use the stores, does the cluster migrate along the hive or do bees go and get some and bring it back to the group?

This question doesn't imply any type of hive: Can it get cold/(or whatever) enough that the bees can starve with an excess of stores?

John
 

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>So then, when they need to use the stores, does the cluster migrate along the hive or do bees go and get some and bring it back to the group?

A little of both. The cluster, as a group, tends to move through the hive consuming stores. But it's the bees on the edge of the cluter that are in contact with the stores and pass it into the cluster. Bees share food. So either everyone has something to eat or no one does. When the weather is warmer the bees getting food wander further from the cluster and rearrange things sometimes.

>Can it get cold/(or whatever) enough that the bees can starve with an excess of stores?

Yes. I don't know of an "official" term for this, but a common term used on this board is "cold starved". That's where the cluster contracts from the cold and it stays cold for too long and the cluster doesn't get moved back into contact with stores in time to stave off starvation. When you open a dead hive and find a cluster of bees, headfirst in the cells and empty comb all around them and stores a few inches away in several directions, this is usually the cause. Here that seems to happen most often when it dips around -10 or so for a couple of weeks.

There's really not much you can do to stop it. Maybe Mt. Camp's idea of solar gain from the roofing felt would help some. They might get warm enough during the day to expand back out a little and find the stores agin and then get moved towards them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Heres another question...

I work a lot in the computer industry and I am acustom to see new technologies being developed nearly every week, making old equipment obsolete. Do I have to worry much about this in beekeeping?

Doug
 

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I still have bees in the first boxes that I bought from Dadant 31 years ago. Of course the wood was much nicer then.
Clear white pine.

The only "obsolecence" has been that I've gone to Screened bottom boards and cut all the deeps down to mediums (my choice) and all the ten frames down to eight frames (my choice) and I still USE all the old bottom boards for ten frame nucs and for swarm traps, so it's not like it's obsolete. But I did quit using plastic foundation, which, for me, is now obsolete because I've gone to small cell.

Most of the 31 year old bottom boards have rotted out and the 31 year old stands have rotted out but a couple are still in use. The boxes are still in use. The 31 year old telescopic covers have also rotted out some, but are still in use.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
So thats a no huh? lol

So how often do inovations tend to come out for beekeepers? And how open are beekeepers to new things?

Also, are there plastic frames designed in small cell? (Sorry, really not trying to make everything I say a question
)

What is the benefit of screened bottom boards?

And for the last one this post ( :D ) Can I use the larger cell foundation that I'm being given for supers?

Maybe one day I'll become as smart as MB and I'll be the one answering all the question....lol


Doug
 

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Doug, I'm in Greenville, about 30 minutes east of Dallas. You can come by anytime. I practice pretty much what Michael Bush teaches (and why not, I learned it here):
foundationless,
all mediums,
OA, etc.
We have a Dadant warehouse in Paris, TX, so supplies are pretty easy to come by. You can order from anywhere, but for wooden ware, no shipping is a good thing. I build some stuff like screened bottoms, tops, feeders, etc. I also have a pretty cool observation hive and highly recommend one as a learning tool. By the way, I'm a systems engineer for a major defense company and started in software.

[ December 09, 2005, 03:22 PM: Message edited by: Ross ]
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Awsome, we will have to arange some time for me to come out there. It was actually Dadant that told me how to "take care" of the bees and I'm considering buying my packages from the Paris location in the spring. Still debating between Weaver and Dadant.

I myself am actually getting a degree right now in Youth Ministry. I have one semester left in school (YIPPY!!!) All my computer knowledge I've learned on the side or from my brother (he works for National Instraments in Austin and manages their test enegineering division spceifically world wide software controls). I do everything from hardware to software, with specifics in web design and online retail. So I sorta think of myself as a jack of all trades.

Thank you much for the invite. Send me a PM or email with your contact information and I'll get ahold of you.

Doug
 

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>So thats a no huh? lol

Well new things come out, but they don't necessarily make what you have obsolete.

>So how often do inovations tend to come out for beekeepers?

All the time. Beekeepers are an inventive lot.

>And how open are beekeepers to new things?

Some are very open. Some are very NOT open.


>Also, are there plastic frames designed in small cell?

Dadant did have plastic foundation, which worked fine for me on regressed beed but not so good for regressing them.

>What is the benefit of screened bottom boards?

IMO, mostly good control over ventilation, but they also provide somwhere for varroa to fall and, if you have a tray under them, a way to mointor Varroa mite infestation levels.

>Can I use the larger cell foundation that I'm being given for supers?

You can use it anywhere you like.
But if you want small cell bees I wouldn't use it in the brood nest. Since I don't have an excluder on my hives, it's hard to say where that ends.
But if you have an excluder, I guess that's what's above it, and yes you could. Or just use the large cell for starter strips and use them everywhere.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Well after reading the article from Wayacoyote I think I'm gonna try and import some Asian bees to control the mites...
Made an interesting read. Remind me again, someone, what does the mites do to the bees? Do they actually kill them?


Doug
 

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There are two kinds of mites. Tracheal mites and Varroa mites. Tracheal mites live inside the bees and it's not hard to breed for resistance. For reasons, unknown to me, a lot of queen breeders don't seem to care. They just treat for tracheal mites and raise queens. I don't treat for tracheam mites and raise queens.
I figure if they can't survive the tracheal mites I don't want them.

The Varroa mites are the hard ones to deal with. Resistance seems to be much harder to breed for. The Varroa mites go into the cell just before it's capped and lay eggs. The first egg is a male and the rest are females. They all feed on the bee larvae. The male mates with all the females it can find that are mature enough to mate (and survive) and then the bee emerges with the mature/mated females on it. The mites then try to find bees to get into the gap between the "plates" on the bees exoskeleton and they suck their "blood" (actually hemolymph). After a few days of this they try to find another cell about to be capped and infest that and lay more eggs.

The bees get deformed wings and they get various viruses that get vectored by the mites. Eventually the hive usually succombs and all the bees die. usually in late fall or early winter. A badly infested hive will have tens of thousands of Varroa mites.
 
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