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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
While I realize that bees have been doing their thing without me for years, I just received my first beehive and am concerned about a few things.
How critical is it that all the boxes stack perfectly?
With 10 frames in there is "extra space". Should I leave that extra space on the outsides of the frames or does it even matter?
Obviously I am going to be extra vigilant about keeping the orientation of frames the same after I remove them. One "plus" for being wired this way.

The best part is that if none of this really matters I will be able to not care and continue on!

Help!

Mike :eek:
 

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I some of your boxes are warped and not stacking tight, put heavy weight on top of a stack and they will straighten out. When drawing all those new frames, keep them tight together. The frames will get wider with wax and propolis. When the bees are working on 8 frames, move 9&10 each in two frames. After the bees reorganize in a week or so, add another story. It is all great fun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Vance, I was not descriptive enough. My boxes are not warped in any way. However, when I put them together for fun in the house, I made certain that all the outsides were perfectly lined up and square. It took a while in the house, on a flat floor, with no bees. I can only imagine the fun it would be outside, in the yard, with bees.

Yes, I am fairly damaged merchandise!
 

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I planed all my box edges so they stacked perfectly flat. After two days in the weather they no longer mated perfectly. They don't have a chance if your corners are out of whack (stepped), so do take the time to get them to lay flat. Also get them all square when assembling, and they will be within 1/16" in the field. The bees will take care of the inevitable movement gaps.

Just my yearling opinion, for what it's worth.
 

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Not at all! When stinging insects are crawling all over the edge where you are required to set the next piece of equipment, you will soon learn that the longer you obcess, the more bees you will kill. You will learn or you will damage yourself. You will learn a smooth slow slide that minimizes the inevitable carnage. For you, the anticipation and imaginings are part of the fun. I envy you the anticipation and general buzz of waiting. Bees are great and continuing fun.
 

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Push the frame's tight together in the center and let ADD take over. ;)
This. Don't ask "What is important to me"....ask "What is important to the bees". You'll find they could care less about little details of box construction or setup, and care more about building comb and gathering stores.
 

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Bees live in buildings (walls) hollow trees, old tires, old gas grills, etc.
If their boxes go out of alignment a wee bit... they won't care.
Is this a good time to tell you boxes shift all by themselves sometimes?

Make sure you place a OCD FREE ZONE sign next to the hive. lol
 

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Squished bees are distressing, and they alarm the other bees, a bit.

When you're new, especially when lifting heavy boxes, it's hard to get them down smoothly. I found this helped me:

Get several (half a dozen or more, you'll quickly misplace one or two) thick-ish wooden paint stirrer sticks. When prying the boxes apart (and you will be astonished how quickly your bugs stick 'em together), raise the first corner just enough to slip the stirrer in diagonally a few inches. Work around to all the corners, adding a paint stirrer to each. Don't worry, when you lift the box the stirrers will stay in place, or stay stuck to the lifted box, or just fall harmlessly outward away from the bees. When you're ready, lift the box up smoothly and set it down diagonally on an empty box you have set-up close at hand. Diagonally results in much smaller contact points for squishing. Surprisingly the bees don't fall out, but if you are worried the queen might fall out (unlikely) you could set up a queen excluder thingy under the empty box and make the diagonality as minor as possible (i.e. only slight offset). Then do whatever you need to do with the box below.

When restacking, before you lift the box to put it back, set up four paint stirrers diagonally across each corner, about two or three inches in from the corner. Set the box down with one short end touching first, then lower it down smoothly on to the paint stirrers. They should be just barely thick enough to provide enough wiggle-away room for any bee but not so thick that bees think they can use the open space to get out. Then carefuly remove the stirrers and you're done.

This is not the most "professional" way (the slow sweeping movement described above is) but for newbees who are stressing and not used to doing it, the paint stirrer trick works while you get your confidence up and learn to better judge bee behavior to be able to predict how the bees will move so you can minimize squashing.

Newbees with brand spanking new equipment are often shocked when they visit older working apiaries which are successfully using very well-worn stuff. Bees have no such concerns. As long as your stuff isn't out-of-whack enough to be tippy, it will work (though any gross warpage can be remedied by weighting it down before you install the bees.) The only time I am really fussy about perfectly squaring things up is at the last point before winter when I know I am going to be applying slabs of foam insulation to the outsides of the hives and want a good snug, full-contact fit.

I try to pay attention to frame orientation, too, but it's not always the most important thing to worry about. If it's important to you can stick a thumbtack or nail a small brad on one end on the top of each frame, that way you can tell at a glance that all the frames are in the same orientation. Long after the bees have propolized and built little blobs of comb on the tops of the frames, you can still tell by feel which end is which. (A side note, I wrote comments on the tops of my frames with Sharpies about what I saw; in some instances it became unreadable afterward.) Michael Palmer sticks duct tape on the tops of his hives and writes notes there, which is a smart thing to do. I also snap pictures all the time when my hives are open. Being new last year, I missed a lot of things that an experienced beekeeper would have noticed on the spot. Going back to those pictures afterward allowed me to catch up on what I missed, without having to reopen the hives to check.

Another useful thing to have on hand (especially for beginners) are several lightweight cloths to momentarily set over any part of an open hive while you collect yourself. The cloth calms the bees, with no risk of harming them going on or taking it off, and it enlarges the open-hive working time so you can go as slow as needed -- and take a short break to organize your thoughts about what you're seeing and intending to do next (or relight the smoker - again!) I use pieces of black woven polypropylene landscape fabric because that's what I had on hand. Some people use old white feed or grain sacks. Just make sure you don't use old SEED bags because they might contain pesticide residues from treated seed. I prefer a smooth cloth rather than something like a terry towel because I don't want the bees to get caught in it. And I prefer a black cloth, but others find it hard to see the bees on it.

Hope my suggestions are useful. The bees will teach you most of all, if you pay close attention to them. Get a chair or bench near your hive so you can watch them.

Enj.
 

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Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
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>How critical is it that all the boxes stack perfectly?

Not.

>With 10 frames in there is "extra space". Should I leave that extra space on the outsides of the frames or does it even matter?

It matters. Tightly together in the middle.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfaqs.htm#framespacing

They actually need to be even closer, so if you shave them down to 1 1/4" wide you can put 11 in and put them tightly together in the middle.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesframewidth.htm
 
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