Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 20 of 20 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Looking for some minor feedback.

1st year beekeeper in Fayetteville, NC. I have two hives (Italians, started out as packages in late April). I am using medium boxes and both colonies have nicely filled out two boxes with brood (great pattern) and no signs of pests (as of yet).

Two weeks ago, I put on my first honey supers (undecided if I will harvest or not) but switched to plastic frames. I sprayed them down with sugar syrup, but there has been zero appreciable activity. There is LOTS of nectar still out there (over 2 dozen Mimosa trees). I am thinking my girls just don't like the plastic. I am going to put in an order for some regular frames.

Questions:

1. Does the group agree with my assessment of dropping the plastic?

2. Since I am not set on harvesting any honey this year, if I switch back to regular frames, should I go with the standard wax foundation, or should I "risk" it with going foundationless frames?

Thanks

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,323 Posts
I would remove the queen excluders and see if that improves the activity in the honey supers. Many times this actually hinders the bees from working above it. Myself I use my QE for wire shevles in my honey heater. They work great for that.
Second, if you have a frame of honey in the bottom, move that into the honey super and add an empty frame in it's place. This should draw the bees upward to store the nectar in the third box.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34,542 Posts
No, the group doesn't agree w/ the idea of dropping the plastic.

I don't agree w/ your idea that spraying foundation w/ sugar syrup would cause comb to be drawn. You would have been more likely to find better results had you applied some more beeswax to the foundation.

In NC I suspect that this isn't a good time of year to get foundation drawn, w/out feeding syrup. Yourdry period has probably been going on a while now.

Uh, what is "minor feedback"?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,799 Posts
I agree with Mark - adding wax to the foundation would have been more helpful than the sugar syrup.

And if you are using a queen excluder, as Mr.Beeman says, remove it ASAP.

I do not think plastic foundation is the source of your problems. I think it is just the time of year where foundation isn't drawn without the bees having a pressing need to do so. Two dozen (plus) Mimosa trees are helpful but are not a lot in terms of bee thinking. I think your flow is pretty much over.

But I'm in Maine not North Carolina and don't know your local conditions. Seek out local beekeepers and learn their observations about your conditions.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34,542 Posts
Never heard of mimosa honey. Is it really much of a nectar producing plant? Humming birds liked the ones in my yard when growing up, so maybe bees do too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks all for the feedback.

I have had my queen excluders on the hives since they were in a single box and routinely have bees on the inner cover and occasionally had to clean up some comb up there. My research said not to throw the excluders on at the same time I threw on the honey supers. My girls have grown up with them.

I have tried and tried again to feed my hives, but frankly after 4 days of being installed, the girls have ignored all my attempts. They prefer to get their own food. I live in the county and have a lot of nectar sources, no monoculture crops, and no commercial pesticides. Most of my neighbors are have small gardens and farms and I have been landscaping with edibles for about 3 years (blueberries, blackberries, pears, plums, peaches, and such). Finally, the neighboorhood has at least two dozen Mimosa trees and the girls have been working them over the last 3+ weeks (I am observing HUNDREDS).

Mimosa trees have multiple names such as Pink Silk trees and such. But this is what I am talking about (see below).

my_mimosa_tree.jpg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albizia_julibrissin

I define minor feedback as casual input. I am not expecting you to solve my problems, just checking with the community to see if I am generally on track. In the Army we would say this is an "Azimuth Check".

Thanks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,978 Posts
I went back and read a couple of your other posts. Congratulations on getting your young daughter interested in beekeeping!!! Good partner you have there! :)

Being in NC and using all mediums I would think you would want to dedicate the lower three boxes as your brood chamber. I'm in south Alabama and I let the bees have the bottom three boxes...I figure that will give them enough bees and stores to overwinter, though I still check to be sure they don't starve out.

From what you said about the two mediums being nicely filled out with brood I would be a bit concerned about the hive becoming overcrowded...you don't want a swarm weakening your young colonies. You want the bees to limit themselves in brood size, not something that you do, actually we normally try to let them grow as much as they will...the larger the bee population the more honey the hive will make. More bees requires more brood, though. I would pull the queen excluder and allow the queen to roam over those frames, leaving her pheromones behind her. If there is still a flow going they may very well start drawing comb in the third box. Once they get the third box mostly drawn then you can add a queen excluder and a super *if* you have a honey flow going. I used a qe when I first started for a week or two. I decided to try it without them on and the bees have kept the queen down in the bottom three mediums (8-frame) quiet nicely on most of the hives. I said "most" of the hives because I have had a few that used 4 boxes...which is a.o.k. with me because they were good and strong. Occasionally there will be a touch of brood in a honey super but I will simply swap it out for a honey-only frame from the outside edge of a brood box.

In regards to getting the bees to move past a queen excluder the best lure is drawn comb...whether empty, honey filled (all or partial), and brood (which you could move back down below once they start drawing comb in the other frames. What is most often suggested, it seems, is to leave the queen excluder off until they start drawing comb...once they're well involved in building the comb then insert the queen excluder....they've already got an investment in what they're doing and they will continue working.

My 3-year newbie advice would be to forget the queen excluders.

Others have suggested that applying more wax to the plastic foundation will help the bees accept it better. From what I understand (no personal experience with plastic foundation) the plastic foundation may only have a very, very small amount of wax applied to it from the manufacturer...even bare spots in places. Using a small foam paint roller and some melted beeswax beekeepers will roll a better layer of wax on the foundation.

How are you feeding your bees? Method?

Take care and best wishes,
Ed
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks all.

I just dropped an order (local"ish" bee supplier) for regular frames. When they arrive, I am taking off the excluders, replacing the plastic frames, and letting both colonies build out until this fall with three full boxes of brood (I still have a fourth box for each hive in reserve).

I am feeding my bees with entrance feeders so I can monitor their intake. I will put out some syrup (though I don't see the girls using it) and I have a top feeder (for both hives) I will use this fall to get the girls through the winter.

This spring I will be ready for splits (wife has given me permission to expand up to four hives) and looking to make my first honey harvest next year (if everything goes right).

Again, thanks for the feedback.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,978 Posts
One of the best investments you can have is boxes and frames. I would go ahead and figure six boxes per hive. If you don't use all of them each year you have some surplus for the unexpected swarm or the experimental split that you want to make....top covers and bottom boards can be scraped together rather quickly in an emergency. ;)

Most experienced beeks will warn against using boardman/entrance feeders as they tend to promote robbing. Better to feed within the hive or through the cover. What did you mean when you said "I will put out some syrup..."? Open feeding? Or, did you simply mean via one of your feeders? Open feeding I wouldn't recommend. Personally, I use mason jars over a screened hole in the inner cover...I place an extra super on top of the inner cover to protect the jar of syrup and then the top cover.

Congratulations on the green-light to expand. :)

Ed
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
218 Posts
+1 on the advice from Intheswamp and others. I'm in VA and also use 3 mediums as my brood chamber. I also used the discarded QEs. I have a mix of wax foundation and plastic foundation in wood frames. I did paint them with beeswax and I think that helped, but since you are a first year beekeeper, you probably don't have any spare wax. So the advice is correct, but not particularly helpful in your case. I used a short bristle brush to put a stripe of wax lengthwise across the middle of each frame.

The bees stop drawing comb in the summer. You can feed them to encourage, but as you are noticing; if there are alternative nectar sources available they just ignore the feed. You may or may nor be able to get them to draw additional frames this year. Good luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,694 Posts
"Since I am not set on harvesting any honey this year, if I switch back to regular frames, should I go with the standard wax foundation, or should I "risk" it with going foundationless frames?"

We have no more odd comb on foundationless than on foundation. Foundationless is generally cheaper and doesn't have residual chemicals from wax. When you do harvest, if you plan on using a tangential extractor, I would use plastic foundation. (Less chemicals than wax and easier to avoid blowouts than foundationless) If you plan on using crush and strain or a radial extractor, I would use foundationless.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,301 Posts
It is difficult to get bees to draw comb in July and August in many regions, nigh impossible in my location.
Drawing comb is part of the annual cycle of the nest, the hives can be goosed to draw wax off season, but goosing the hive unbalances it in other ways. No free lunch.

Plastic frames are often easily drawn in the spring time in my area, after that flush not so much. Note I only have one season of flow a year, if you have periodic flows, you will be able to draw comb during the flow period. This is **very** local and also changes from year to year -- no blanket advice is possible.

Avoid mixing plastic and other styles in the same super. Bees almost always draw the plastic as the last resort. If you give them a choice, they will overdraw their preferred frame and ignore the plastic.

The reluctance to draw plastic might have something to do with lack of communication holes. The suggestions to bore communication holes is not off base.

Once the plastic is drawn, it works beautifully, and makes fantastic brood comb.

Foundationless frames can be drawn in the brood box, but an empty super of just foundationless can go bad in a hurry.

Be aware foundationless frames introduced to a honey super will be drawn in "large" cell format, and the drawn frames will not be suitable for worker brood.

Do not checkerboard the frames in a honey super, as the bees will overdraw the started frames and ignore the undrawn ones. Within the brood, frames can be checkerboarded (in small amounts) to open the brood oval.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
92 Posts
First year beek here, my main focus was to just allow my hives to expand as needed while not stressing too much over my plans and Mother Nature. Having as many frames drawn as possible I felt would give me better opportunity next year to increase my hive numbers. I may have been able to do walk away splits although they seem pretty content as I keep adding boxes and foundation. Yesterday as a matter of fact I just added the 6th box of frames/foundation since my neighboring hive had a box drawn out in a very short time plus the best observation I have seen is now there are honeybees foraging throughout my property, love it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
208 Posts
Mine have completely stopped drawing comb and I am 30 miles from you. They stopped about a month ago. Going to be really hard to get them to draw any more.
Mimosas are almost done and won't be enough to get comb.
Keep the plastic, don't think thats your problem.
The QE is useless IMO.
Three meds will get you through winter fine. Two probably will too. Just might have to feed a little. Almost all nectar is going to dry up real soon and they will be glad to take the syrup then. Don't know how you feed but be careful if you use entrance feeders, they can cause robbing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
406 Posts
From the looks of your pictures, it doesn't look like you have enough bees to need to draw more frames. The landing boards on my April package hives are never that sparse.

All I use is plastic, no extra wax (it's already got a thin film.) I've never had a bee complain. They draw it right out WHEN they need it. Foundationless frames have less surface wax :)

You can feed to help the comb building, but they suffice without it.

May I suggest that you take the queen excluders off and use the plastic some more?
If you take it off and switch to the new frames, you will, in your heart, always think that bees don't like plastic.
(Only remove one variable at a time to solve the equation.)

I just don't think they need it yet, or they'd be doing what bees do.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
One of the best investments you can have is boxes and frames. I would go ahead and figure six boxes per hive.

What did you mean when you said "I will put out some syrup..."? Open feeding?

Congratulations on the green-light to expand. :)
Thanks for the advice. I was using the planning figure of 4 boxes per hive. I think that is great advice, I will be building more this winter. I use entrance feeders BUT place them 6 feet away from either hive. When the packages first got here, I would see bees clustered around the syrup for about 4 days and then "poof", nothing. About once every 10-14 days I will put out fresh syrup and my bees continually ignore the syrup (the ants love it though).

Really looking forward to expanding!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks all. As I said above, I am going to pull the QE from both hives, I am going to put in regular frames and store the plastic for next year. I am thinking of running an experiment next year and split both hives (if possible) and have one hive ALL plastic frames to compare and contrast the differences.

My goal this year will be to encourage a third brood chamber and feed both colonies so that next year I can hopefully get four healthy colonies by the spring.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,311 Posts
Agree with sqkcrk posts.

You may be in a dearth there. I have never seen a honeybee on mimosa. You may want to feed 1:1 to get them to draw. If you have any wood frames you might want to replace some of the plastic with wood frames with wax foundation or foundationless (many beeks mix plastic and wood frames in the same box). Sometimes bees prefer wood frames to plastic.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,978 Posts
My goal this year will be to encourage a third brood chamber and feed both colonies so that next year I can hopefully get four healthy colonies by the spring.
I'm not crazy about open feeding, but lots of people do it. My personal preference is mason jars upside down over a round hole cut into the inner cover (and screened over). I set another super (another use for one of those extra supers ;) ) on top of the inner cover and then the tele cover on top of that to cover things up.

Don't forget that baby bees need pollen, too. Not just syrup. :)

Ed
 
1 - 20 of 20 Posts
Top