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Just over a month ago(middle of June) we started bee keeping because my wife happened to be outside as a swarm was flying in our yard. She watched them and they decided to make their home in a pile of wood that I had by our shed.

She called around and a local beekeeper came by to move it for us and we started talking.....anyway we ended up buying a old 10 frame deep langstroth from him and keeping the hive.

A couple of weeks later we finally got our smoker and other tools and we were able to have a peek.(family is hooked) Our bees had filled out 7 frames and we could see larva and capped cells, and lots of capped honey on the top of the filled frames. However the brood was very spotty. We also had SHB running around on the top and I killed all that I could find.

With the 7 frames filled we decided we better hurry and get another deep super so we ordered and about a week later opened our hive back up to check progress and add the extra brood box so they would have room to grow. However there wasn't any additional growth in the hive...but we added the box anyway. Yesterday we did another check and didn't see anything new. Nothing on the new frames, same spotty brood pattern, some larva and about a dozen more beetles(killed them).

Last week I decided to try to feed them with an entrance feeder but quickly had to stop because of sugar ants(they climbed right thru the grease and cinnamon to get to the sugar water)

Am I being impatient? could I have a queen issue? are the beetles messing them up?(working on ordering beetle trap)

Anyway, any and all advice appreciated. I can post pictures of frames tonight if it would help. thanks...oh, I am 2 miles north of the gulf of mexico in Mississippi if that makes a difference.
 

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Can you get the beekeeper you got the hive from to come take a peek and give you advice? As I am a total newbe myself, I'm not sure what the issue is except that I have been cautioned against giving them to much room especially where and when SHB are an issue. They need to have the strength to occupy the space , so they don't get overwelmed.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Jam,

The beekeeper that came by lives 50 miles away, so I feel bad asking him to come over. However, that would probably be my best bet. I am just trying to get as much info as I can before I trouble the guy again. I already took up one of his afternoons with him thinking he was getting an additional hive. Great guy, he said he would mentor me when he left me with the hive, its just a lot of driving time.

I am worried about too much room as well, they just filled up that first box so fast I want to make sure they have enough room. Should I wait until all frames in the first box are filled out before adding the second?
 

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Don't worry to much. They billed out fast at first so they can make room for the queen to lay and to store a supply of honey and pollen for brood. Right now they really don't need the room and won't untill they build the population in the hive up. Remember it takes 3 weeks for the first group new brood to hatch. And then there should be some hatching everyday after that. Do check again and make sure you are seeing some good coverage of brood. Once you have enough hatch the current nurse bees should start working on building and gathering. I would bet in another week or two they will really start to fill out the 2nd box.
 

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I was told to wait until most of 8 or 9 frames were drawn out (not necessarily filled just drawn) to add the second box. Maybe the pics you mentioned could be posted here and emailed to the beekeeper who helped you out also?

That might help some here ID the issue (if you have one, maybe it's totally normal...).
 

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Spencer is on the right track and I appreciate him reminding me that even once I see eggs, it will be at least 21 days until I see a population increase in the hive. The have all the comb they need to accommodate the number of bees currently in the hive.

Once the new bees begin to hatch, it will change. Personally, if you have a strong honey flow on right now, you may not need to feed as much. In my area, there is practically no honey flow and I must feed constantly. I'm going to feed until the cotton is in full bloom and then stop feeding to see how the bees do.

I'm glad your family is hooked on the bees. Addictive little things aren't they?:D
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for all the advice so far. It really makes sense why they haven't started expanding the hive further...the hive hasn't grown yet so they don't need to.

So for clarification, I can leave the second brood box on for now even though they haven't started working it yet...they should very soon. I just need to keep an eye on them and make sure they aren't over run with pests.

Would I have better luck feeding them inside the hive rather than at the entrance? I have a very serious sugar ant problem in my yard. However they do keep out the fire ants and roaches so I have never really cared about them until now. They seem to be leaving the hive alone since I have removed the sugar syrup.

I have posted a link to all the pictures I took. Hive Pictures 7-20-10


Are the frames so spotted because she was laying eggs as the comb was being built. Maybe the frames will look better in a week or 2?
 

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Looks pretty good to me. Lots of larva, maybe an egg or two (hard to tell if that was the reflection of the flash or eggs), drone brood (supposed to mean the hive thinks they are doing well), nectar, pollen - the whole shebang.

I do not know what's happening in your neck of the woods, but they'll stop drawing comb in my area when the flow drops (or you have a drought, like we're having.)

At to ants, I mostly ignore them and let them feed with the bees. I have built a few stands with 2x4 legs that fit into a coffee can which I can fill with water to stop all ant activity (the last time I used one was when I had a struggling hive and the ants were simply annoying me.)

I use top feeders and usually have a train of ants going to and from the feeder. Wrong or right, I usually don't bother with them and the bees make it alright (I guess I have to feed more, since I'm supporting the ant population.)
 

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It could be that the hive and some of the comb she doesnt like and thats why the brood is spotty. The queen will inspect the cells and if she doesnt like it then she won't lay in it. I'd say just kick back and watch and see what happens. They surely could surprise you. My first swarm did.
 

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Thanks all, I'll just be patient. I just wanted to make sure that I didn't have any problems that would get worse by inaction. I'll work on getting another hive(or more) for next spring so I have something to compare.
 

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I can't help with the SHB, this last year is the first I've ever heard of it. I spent 30 years in Florida with the fire ants, and I can tell you about them!

If you can, somehow, get the hives up on a stand with legs of some kind, smear Petroleum jelly around the legs. Of course you will need to keep all the grass and tree branches from touching the hive or stand.

I am going to use some layers of cardboard on the cut grass, which will kill the grass under it and keep any seeds from sprouting through and regrowing. Legs of the stand on top of bricks or flat rocks. On top of the corrugated paper I will add a good 4 or 5 inches of organic, weed-free mulch. Old leaves, lawn clippings, or maybe straw. If you use Lawn clippings, you will have to keep up with them, they decompose quickly.
 

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if you are using cinder blocks for a stand and they are 2 blocks high, spray the bottom block down on all sides with pine-sol. Ants hate it, and will rarely cross it, and if you only spray the bottom block, it won't affect the bees. Also, if you feed with a Ziplock bag in the top of the hive, and your hive is good and tight, the ants will not get to it as well. The bees will propolize the edges of the inner cover to help keep them out.
 
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