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Very excited...I picked up my first 2 nucs yesterday here in NC and installed them. We are having a 'cooler' than usual spring so it wasn't as warm as I would've liked, but I think everything went okay. I can see that there's a real art to manipulating frames but although invariably squishing a few bees, I think I'll quickly get the hang of that. I was able to observe both queens and lots of new eggs and larva (thank God for marked queens - I don't think I'd have had much luck finding them as a new beekeeper, but will work on those skills.

I resisted the urge to immediately add a 2nd brood box and am going to wait until they've drawn out the 7th or 8th frame - so many conflicting opinions no matter how much you read about when and how to expand the hive. I like the idea of swapping out frames 7/8 for the 9/10 frames to try to force them to draw them all out, and then putting a brood frame in the added 2nd deep to encourage them to start working the 2nd brood box - so I'm going to try that method I think... I am starting with plastic foundation that I've added beeswax to so we'll see how well that works. I'm going to keep a top feeder on continuously this first season and see how things go. I am in tulip poplar country here, they grow everywhere, so I'm hoping for good things. I have a large vegetable garden and numerous fruit trees and black and blueberries galore in my yard, but understand that what you personally provide isn't necessarily all that relevant, it's more about the surrounding area. I do have one question. I was only partly successful in keeping my smoker lit, but even with just using a bit of smoke my first time, the bees seemed amazingly calm. It made me wonder if smoke is really even worth the effort/trouble? Other than being a little more agitated, what's the worst that can happen if you don't use smoke routinely?

I am thankful to have found this forum - I run a Washington Redskins forum that's very similar to this one, so it's a very familiar and comfortable software. And I can already tell this is a great community. Wish me luck! Going to open the hives again 4 days post-install and see how things look
 

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Welcome to beekeeping! Just a bit of past experience. I fed a couple of new packages and couldn't believe how much syrup they were taking. I figured they would take as much as they would need and then switch over to available nectar. Well, was I wrong. All of that syrup was used to backfill the entire hive. That poor queen had nowhere to lay. Luckily I caught it in time to remove some of those frames and give the queen a brood nest. In short think twice about feeding all season. Good luck.
 

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Welcome, And congratulations. I think you will enjoy participating here. At times no or little smoke is the best avenue. However, you will find that there are many times when it is useful, and others when it is necessary. as time goes on you will develop an insightful understand of Beehavior and the different personalities possessed by each hive. You will find some that almost lead you to believe they like your presence, while others become totally disarrayed at the slightest intrusion. Even wearing a bee suit an aggressive bee can find a place to sting you. or get so frustrated that they go for the fellow 50 yards away mowing his lawn.
 

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Congratulations on your new bees. Regarding smoking, there is a difference between installing a small and docile package, where the bees are homeless, tired, and disrupted, and a small colony as it builds, vs. a fully populated hive with something worthwhile to defend. The weather, forage, condition of the queen, time of day, etc. can come into play, and you never know what mood they will be in. Usually only a tiny bit of smoke will do.

Everybody has an opinion, but I think it's prudent to always have a smoker. To install a package, just spray sugar water. The worst that can happen is that things turn bad fast. The day a limb fell on one of my hives and bumped a box an inch out of position and I decided to slide it back in place sans veil and smoker was the day I learned my lesson. It was dead of winter, and they shouldn't have even been active. Ha.

Have fun!
 

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Thanks for the replies guys - I am a big believer in listening to folks more experienced than I am, so I will definitely heed the guidance on the smoker... And Colby, I hadn't thought of that possibility, so I'll keep an eye on brood frames suddenly turning into honey storage frames...I'm so 'new', just recognizing backfilling would be a minor miracle :) but hey, at least I know what the term means...

I was planting an herb garden today and suddenly several foragers show up sniffing around. It was a nice sight to see...
 

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I keep a smoker lit when I spend any more than a few minutes in a hive...just in case. You will find your bees very gentle this time of the year as we are on the verge of our main flow. But by the middle of July they will not be so nice as we enter the Dearth. If you bought nucs then they should have a frame of honey and pollen inside. Your bees may not take syrup at this time as they have nectar available. If they aren't taking syrup you should remove your feeder. A couple of my hives gained almost 10 lbs last week and they are all drawing comb. You've picked a good time to start Beekeeping! Have fun with your new hives and good luck!
 

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I keep a smoker lit when I spend any more than a few minutes in a hive...just in case. You will find your bees very gentle this time of the year as we are on the verge of our main flow. But by the middle of July they will not be so nice as we enter the Dearth. If you bought nucs then they should have a frame of honey and pollen inside. Your bees may not take syrup at this time as they have nectar available. If they aren't taking syrup you should remove your feeder. A couple of my hives gained almost 10 lbs last week and they are all drawing comb. You've picked a good time to start Beekeeping! Have fun with your new hives and good luck!
Thanks! Are you in Belews Creek, NC btw? Don't worry, I'm not going to look you up :) Just curious... When you say your hives gained almost 10 lbs last week - how are you determining that? I am in tulip poplar country, and I imagine that a huge amount of the foraging my bees will do will be from tulip poplar, as well as blackberries in this area.
 

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Yep and you can look me up anytime! Yeah... Around here the main flow consists of tulip poplar and blackberries. I live on the lake and the poplar is everywhere. I understand tulip poplar honey is dark... my honey is never dark so I'm a little baffled.
I know how much my hives weigh because I built a portable scale and weigh my hives every week. Then I graph the results in Excel. I find the results quite interesting.
 

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I'm right around the corner in Stokesdale. If you don't mind, I may run questions by you occasionally. Tomorrow will be 4 days post install. I installed with just the first brood box. I'm going to go back in tomorrow after work, see if they have started drawing out some of the new outside frames and if they have I think I'll swap the empty frames on the ends out with the ones they've started working. Then maybe next weekend add the 2nd brood boxes. Do you think that's a reasonable plan? I am also wondering about putting a frame of brood up in the 2nd brood box when I add - have you used that method? If so, which frame did you move up, a center frame or one from the outside?

And cool on the hive scale...that's probably a very good method of tracking hive growth...
 

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Congratulations on your new bees. Regarding smoking, there is a difference between installing a small and docile package, where the bees are homeless, tired, and disrupted, and a small colony as it builds, vs. a fully populated hive with something worthwhile to defend. The weather, forage, condition of the queen, time of day, etc. can come into play, and you never know what mood they will be in. Usually only a tiny bit of smoke will do.

Everybody has an opinion, but I think it's prudent to always have a smoker. To install a package, just spray sugar water. The worst that can happen is that things turn bad fast. The day a limb fell on one of my hives and bumped a box an inch out of position and I decided to slide it back in place sans veil and smoker was the day I learned my lesson. It was dead of winter, and they shouldn't have even been active. Ha.

Have fun!
It was very cool the day I installed my NUCs. Went out today, just to observe a little, and it was much warmer with the bees were WAY more active. Guess I got a little too close for the guard bees liking as I started getting dive-bombed and one nailed me on the hand. I can imagine with a fully grown hive they could be pretty impressively agitated occasionally. So I will embrace the art of the smoker. I did have on a black t-shirt today, which I believe may be a no-no (bees mistake you for a bear or other large animal?).
 
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