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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all, i'm new to beekeeping - just got the hive a few weeks ago. Been reading around in here and it's been very helpful.

Just to be clear, i am not really trying to maximize honey production, but i would like some. Mostly want to keep them around for pollinating my many fruit trees and do what i can to help the other trees in the neighborhood out. Keeping them healthy with a minimum of required maintenance is my main goal. I may check in on them for fun, but i don't want to have to :) I'm not planning on getting any honey this year, though i may steal a tiny bit.

The bees are 'new world carniolans', but are from a split of another hive, so could be mutts. Depends where the drone(s) came from. The split was made earlier this year, so it's a first year colony.

Anyhow, the hive consists of a hive body and one medium super right now, all 10 frame. They seem mostly full, the outer sides of the outermost frames in the hive body were pretty empty, and there were a couple of frames in the super which were just being built out.
I'd say 4 frames of capped honey in the super, 3 or 4 with mostly brood, and maybe a frame's worth of uncapped honey in the hive body. I didn't get to the last 4 frames or so in the hive body cause they were starting to get agitated, but it seemed like it was just as full as the side i did look at.. there were plenty of uncapped brood, so i'm pretty sure the queen made it through OK.

My main goals:
* learn more about bees
* convert to foundationless frames
* start up a top-bar hive (Tanzanian, based on medium super frame size) next year.

OK some questions:
* i feel like it's full enough to super, so i was going to try that. when i super, i'd like to put top bars in. maybe put one normal frame as a ladder? any advice?

* How can i tell if they are getting a good amount of nectar? There's a lot of talk about the 'nectar flows', but not a lot of advice about how to determine if you're in one. I see some bees coming in with pollen (but mostly without). They were moved here from about 50 miles away and i'm hoping the forage is better here (the guy who sold me the hive said he thought it would be), but want some tips on how to tell.

* is there a howto or guide for converting to foundationless? I'd like to move to that in this hive and get a head start on top-bar for next year. Any tips with that in mind? I'd like to avoid feeding them sugar. I hear it takes a few generations to get them back to 'natural' cell size, which i suppose is my goal.

For now i just have the one hive, so not a lot of options for moving stuff around, and i don't want to take too many risks :)

During my first inspection, I pulled one of the frames out of the super which was maybe 30% built out and replaced it with a top-bar piece. Hopefully they will build it out and put brood in it... i really want some pre-made top bars (with brood) for staring my top-bar-hive next year. The frame i pulled had a big piece of comb coming out sideways with some brood in it, so hopefully they will use it. I suppose since i'll be making it the same basic size as a medium, i can just steal those frames, but i'd rather go fully top bar.

thanks!
-tmk
 

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I'am guessing the colony you have already has built combs. I would leve them as they are and let them build up and put up some honey so they can make it through the winter months.

Then in the spring before they swarm take out 3-4 lbs of bees and get you a laying queen to put with them. This is what I call shook swarm. And put this in your top bar hive

When bees are in a good nectar flow they will be adding white wax to the already built older wax, you will start noticing whitening wax on the combs or if you were to take out a frame with built comb turn it sideways and lightly shake it the nectar will come out.
 

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* i feel like it's full enough to super, so i was going to try that. when i super, i'd like to put top bars in. maybe put one normal frame as a ladder? any advice?
If you have the hive in Lang style boxes already, then instead of putting bare top bars in the next super, you could put empty 4-sided normal frames but with no foundation, just be sure to have a comb guide along the underside of the top edge (I used glued in popsicle sticks) so they have something to start building the comb from besides just a flat bar. Giving them foundationless normal frames will give them a bottom and sides to attach their comb to as it gets completed- they will hopefully fill the rectangle of the frame. This may help discourage them from attaching their comb to the sides of the Lang box or to the frame tops of the box below.

That's how I recently added my first foundationless medium supers in my Langs...and I put one single frame with wax foundation right in the middle of the 10 frame mediums to act as a ladder. So far they have not built in it, but if they need more room than their current two rather full deeps, they can start on that super and start making their own comb.
Just a slight variation of what you are talking about doing. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks omie, I popped the foundation out of 10 frames or so and glued popsicle sticks in. They were pretty small and we didn't have that many, so we'll see how it goes.

We're going to open it up tomorrow and see what they're up to, and on will go the super.

Cheers
-tmk
 

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TMK,

Looks like you are my neighbor. If you have not already done so, google "bee guild" and check out the Santa Clara Bee Guild. Membership is dirt cheap ($15) and they also have some extractors and mentors available.
Should you want some more direct contact please send me a PM and I will provide contact info.

Regards -- Fuzzy
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Heya fuzzy,

Indeed so!

I'm already a bee guild member, joined at the Aug 2 meeting.

I might need to get into this mentor thing, though when i was there it didn't seem like a lot of folks were into the non-standard stuff (foundationless/natural cell size, top bar, etc)

Or maybe i'm just naive and my bees will die :)

-tmk
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
update (with picture!):

Last sunday i pulled a partially laid medium frame out and replaced it with a top bar style bar. This week we opened up the hive and pulled the bar to see how far they got.

See for yourself (click for full size):

(that's a 19" wide top bar, same as a lang frame)

Is that pretty standard for you guys? or are the bees especially happy or what?

I added a super of foundationless frames, we'll see how they do. It's late in the season, but they seem happy. Hopefully they build it out, even if they don't fill it, it'll be there for next year.

-tmk
 

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Hi TMK and Fuzzy. The photo looks very nice. I'm in Santa Clara too. On Monroe by Wilcox High. I have 2 hives and was thinking of going foudationless on a split next spring (just for the fun of having different types of hives to enjoy). The bees seem to love it here. I am a first year beekeper and the one hive I started this year (from a friend's split) has given me about 75 pounds of honey so far and I have 2 more supers about 80% full that will come off for extraction when fully capped (about 60 more pounds of honey). I was surprised at the amount of honey for a first year hive. Have fun and maybe we will run into each other at a guild meeting as I will be joining this week.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Just wanted to post an update - the top bar frame is mostly built out and they are starting to put honey in.



Cheers
-tmk
 

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Nice frame of comb. I've got a few deep combs drawn out on only top bars. I ran out of frames to put in some deep nucs and so cut a thin strip of wood and stuck it in a standard Lang top bar. (I make my own frames and ran out of sides to use.)

The bees drew them out nicely and they are currently loaded with brood. I've since made a number of complete deep frames that I "wired" with fishing line and the girls have done a good job of drawing them out too.

I'm planning to let the girls draw out as much of their own comb as possible next year and stop buying foundation, at least for the brood boxes.

Wayne
 
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