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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I started two packages on May 5th and we checked them on Saturday the 10th. Installed on 8 bars in a Les Crowder footprint hive. They had both built about 6 total bars, not necessarily to full thickness. I looked in the observation window of one of them yesterday and they were starting to build the back comb and it has me worried that they are probably pretty close to being "full" as far as comb goes already. Both had eggs laid but only on one comb in each. So I'm hoping we caught both queens early in their laying.

How many bars should I put in at once? I'm thinking 2-3? And how many should I have in front of the follower for use right now? If I started with 8 and add two into the brood nest and leave two empty on the backside before the follower, should that be good? We are going to go into them tonight and add some bars and make sure the queen's pattern looks good.

I'd hate to cramp them and have them end up getting the swarm urge.
 

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>I started two packages on May 5th and we checked them on Saturday the 10th. Installed on 8 bars in a Les Crowder footprint hive. They had both built about 6 total bars, not necessarily to full thickness. I looked in the observation window of one of them yesterday and they were starting to build the back comb and it has me worried that they are probably pretty close to being "full" as far as comb goes already. Both had eggs laid but only on one comb in each. So I'm hoping we caught both queens early in their laying.

Not sure what you are trying to "catch". I would add some space now. If your weather is warm now, I'd be tempted to add all the space.

> How many bars should I put in at once? I'm thinking 2-3?

Anytime I add space I double it. If they now have eight bars I would increase to 16 at least.

> And how many should I have in front of the follower for use right now? If I started with 8 and add two into the brood nest and leave two empty on the backside before the follower, should that be good? We are going to go into them tonight and add some bars and make sure the queen's pattern looks good.

You are overthinking it. Give it all to them. Give them 8 more. Either will work. Two at a time isn't worth the effort. Once they have some brood emerging (probably around the 26th to the 30th) the population will explode. Meanwhile don't let them run out of room.

>I'd hate to cramp them and have them end up getting the swarm urge.

Exactly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Not sure what you are trying to "catch". I would add some space now. If your weather is warm now, I'd be tempted to add all the space.
By that I just meant that since there were only eggs on one partial comb, I hope it was just because she had just begun laying. Not because she started and was killed or something like our last one was.

Regarding the weather being warmer. It's going to be highs of about 60 with lows dipping down into the mid-upper 30s for the next several days it looks like. Weather warming back up to mid-70s early next week.

Maybe double to 16 bars tonight and reassess early next week? I don't want to keep them cramped, but I don't want to open all 35 or 36 bars and spread them out or something in the 30 degree nights.
 

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>Maybe double to 16 bars tonight and reassess early next week?

Sure.

I would not feed any bars into the middle until there are more bees and the nights are warmer.

Just for a frame of reference, my top bar hive has no follower. The GoldStar I was given has one, but I've never used it. I would have, but I just wasn't around to manage it, so I dumped a package in and didn't touch it for several years... it's still thriving and I've taken the queen and a shaken swarm out of it twice and it swarmed a few times that I wasn't around to catch.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
>Maybe double to 16 bars tonight and reassess early next week?

Sure.

I would not feed any bars into the middle until there are more bees and the nights are warmer.

Just for a frame of reference, my top bar hive has no follower. The GoldStar I was given has one, but I've never used it. I would have, but I just wasn't around to manage it, so I dumped a package in and didn't touch it for several years... it's still thriving and I've taken the queen and a shaken swarm out of it twice and it swarmed a few times that I wasn't around to catch.
Wish I had some swarm traps near you, Michael. It'd be a heck of a drive though. :)

We'll double their bars tonight and keep an eye through the window after that. Thanks for the input!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Both hives completely loaded with eggs and young larva. Saw the queen a "Carniolan" from Koehnen in one of the hives (four Carni queens from Koehnen... only one actually a Carni). Added eight bars behind the drawn ones in one hive. Two bars in the other (a ten minute drive and forgot we used mostly 1.5" bars to fill the space behind the follower). I'm in the red sweatshirt, my dad is in green. He and Grandpa had bees (in Langs) for years before loosing them too much to justify keeping them. He insisted that he wanted nothing to do with them. Now he calls that hive "his hive". When we installed the package he refused to shake them in, didn't want to be blamed for anything going wrong. Wouldn't hold the top bars when we first checked for eggs. Now look at him. :) He can still see eggs and larva, which he did not think he'd be able to do with his eyes.

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Once they have some brood emerging (probably around the 26th to the 30th) the population will explode. Meanwhile don't let them run out of room.
I am just a bit over 3 weeks in since install so I am interested to know what you mean by explode. This whole week has been cold and rainy so I have not seen very much action and almost no progress. I did notice brood from the window for the first time though. You can see it on comb 4 on the left.

 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I am just a bit over 3 weeks in since install so I am interested to know what you mean by explode. This whole week has been cold and rainy so I have not seen very much action and almost no progress. I did notice brood from the window for the first time though. You can see it on comb 4 on the left.

The queens have laid wall-to-wall brood in about 5-6 full sized combs and some partials. That's a lot of worker bees when they start emerging at roughly the same time in a period of 3-4 days (the time they were laid).
 

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Jwcarlson, i'm not sure what i'm more touched by; that beautiful, plump queen, or the sight of you and your father working the hive together. What a nice trio of photographs! Thanks for sharing them.

My husband and i were treated to quite a show this morning when we checked our hives through the observation windows - we watched one of our queens lay an egg! What an enchantment these hives turned out to be.

Continued good luck to us both ...
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Jwcarlson, i'm not sure what i'm more touched by; that beautiful, plump queen, or the sight of you and your father working the hive together. What a nice trio of photographs! Thanks for sharing them.

My husband and i were treated to quite a show this morning when we checked our hives through the observation windows - we watched one of our queens lay an egg! What an enchantment these hives turned out to be.

Continued good luck to us both ...
My dad's a riot. I jokingly told him my brother and I were going to put a hive at his house some night and he'd just have to deal with it. He told me he would tip it over and leave it in his alley. (He wouldn't actually do this, but was conveying that he didn't want a hive.)

A couple weeks later I get a call from him saying that at one of the places we hunt, the landowner asked my dad about bees (he knew he used to keep them). So my dad calls me and says, tell me what I owe you. Build a hive for Ed and find a package of bees.

Started out as "I'm only doing this for Ed. They're your bees."
Progressed to him taking a day off work to drive a seven hour round trip to pick up the packages. "Just because I love you guys."
He then complained that his hive had a couple of our "popcicle stick" top bars instead of the one piece wedges.
He's been calling it "my hive" for the last week and I think that's awesome.

He would do anything I say in regards to the bees though, so in that sense they are still my responsibility. But he, my brother, and I are all very close and it's just another hobby we all share and enjoy. He was exicted how much knowledge came flowing back to him, but still says I already know more than he ever did (because I've read a bunch). He and my brother are much more hands on learners than me, if I can read about how to do it and gather lots of info before jumping in that's the way I'd prefer.

We call him "smoke boy" because he really knows his way around a smoker. And it probably helps a little that we're using my grandpa's old one... so he's familiar with it.
 

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I'm not one to linger long online, which means I usually skim through threads, but I really savored this one, JWCarlson. Thanks for the pleasant read!
From another "JW"
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Finally got warm enough to open the hives. I put some eggs/brood into the hive that might have a virgin or might be queenless. Also reduced them down a few bars. Saw this lady to make sure we didn't start a war. Both hives hauling pollen like crazy after the last several days of cold/rain. Lots and lots of capped brood and larva in both newer hives. Interesting to see what a package is supposed to do. :)

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I'm confused.. if both hives have capped and open brood why do you think one is queenless?

also why are you reducing them down? if anything just open it up unless it's freezing. they will use what they want and ignore the rest. easier to just open it and then watch them build it out through the window instead of having to monitor them for space.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I'm confused.. if both hives have capped and open brood why do you think one is queenless?

also why are you reducing them down? if anything just open it up unless it's freezing. they will use what they want and ignore the rest. easier to just open it and then watch them build it out through the window instead of having to monitor them for space.

Three hives. Two new doing well. Older one queenless.

That post was unclear. ;)
 
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