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Discussion Starter #1
Got this bright idea last fall to raise bees this summer (that was maybe my first mistake). Got my moms old beekeeping books from storage (been on a shelf for a good 20+years) and read them all over and over again. Spent months online watching youtube videos and reading up on all the things that could go wrong and yet I am finding that I am now 3 months in and all that reading and research seems to be doing me no good.

Mom found a place that sold bees with brood chamber, bottom board, feeder, inner cover and top cover for only $120 and she ordered 2 sets (since my bright ideas always turn into 'family adventures' she decided she needed a hive to)

Spent from fall to spring on craigslist buying used hive bodies, frames, drawn comb and anything else we could for cheap.

The month of April was spent washing the boxes and painting them so that we could be ready for when our bees arrived in May.

Mothers day weekend our 2 hives were ready for pick up. Not even 5 minutes after arriving at our bee site I was stung (k, I knew that was going to happen at some point but 5 minutes in, COME ON, I wasnt even messing with them yet, just walked over to see my new hives and that little girl decided to get stuck in my hair, I now wear a stocking cap on my head whenever I go over there)

Last week was nice and hot and humid here in MN and I ended up with a swarm. Bees were falling out of my hive like they were water. Got all geared up closer to dark and added a third brood chamber.

2 days later I noticed that our spare hives had a TON of bee activity (the spares are on the other side of the yard from where we have our original hives set up). Wait for my dad to get home and we open up the hives to see what is going on to find that I have managed to luck out and capture my own swarm (beginners luck I figure). Go through frame by frame and by some miracle locate the queen. Add an excluder to keep her out of the top honey chamber (found her in the second honey super down) and thank God I had a spare. I want to say this is last week Wednesday. Then precede to move the rest of the extra empty hives away from the new hive.

Check on the original hive and it is still full of bees. Only pulled one frame as they were very agitated even after being smoked. Had seen a queen cell on the only frame I pulled the day I saw them swarming so I would guess they either have a new queen already or are less then a week from having a new one.

Today my mom calls me to tell me that once again the spare hives have a ton of bee activity. Will be going to the farm tomorrow to see if God smiled down on us again and let us 'capture' a second swarm (which I would guess is from my moms hive).

I understand that bees swarm. But what the heck am I doing wrong? My mom used drawn out comb honey supers in her hive but I used brand new foundations. My bees dont seem to be doing any drawing out of comb in either the brood chambers OR the honey supers.

The hives they are taking over have some drawn out comb and some empty foundation. The drawn comb is from hives that froze out over last winter and we just hadnt gotten to cleaning them out (all the cleaned and freshly painted equipment is being stored in a small shed, that was just my staging area for when I was working).

If my bees are swarming are they going to have time to make enough honey to survive the winter?

What are the odds of me being able to steal some honey this year since my kids (especially the 5 yr old) are asking at least once a week if we have honey yet.

Why are my bees not drawing out any comb? (which if they are not drawing out comb that would account for the swarming, they probably got over crowded I would guess).

Will my now 4 hives (I was really not ready for 4 hives) stand a chance of making it through the winter?

Is anyone that knows what they are doing in Central MN feeling adventurous and willing to come take a peek for me and maybe give me a hand since I am clearly in WAY over my head.

Thank you in advance for any advice you can give
Malinda and her rouge bees
 

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Hmmmm. If they're not drawing out comb, then they probably have the space they need...for brood, pollen and nectar. BUT, are you saying that there's no drawn comb in your foundation hive? None? Or not much? I suppose it's possible that the second swarm isn't from your hives but you'll find out for sure. Sometimes hives get swarmy and stay that way for a while. No, I doubt you'll be able to get honey this year and frankly, I'd be considering feeding them soon depending on how the late summer flow is in your area. Finally, remember that you can combine hives in the fall if you think that makes sense.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
@Ravenseye: They had drawn foundation in the brood chamber with them when we got them, and they seemed to draw out the last few frames of the original chamber, however they havent touched the honey super (even though there always seem to be bees up in there) and as far as I could tell they had done very little work drawing out the foundation of the second brood box I put on.

@Brenda: LOL :) Sadly, no it is not a light color, all I had was a dark blue one that happened to get lost under the seat of my van and that is what I use. I do however have a vail for when we are actually working with the bees (and I still wear that stocking cap under that just to keep my hair out of the way).
 

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think you need to contact state bee keepin club an see if they got a mentor
list in your area. mite try 4h to. have your ma an you go out ridein an if you see a hive pull over an talk to the owner. bee keepers are mostly friendly
fokes.
 

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Malinda. Sounds like you are doing good. You may have givin your hive too much room.

For the hive that has the empty brood chamber and the empty honey super, remove the honey super until the brood chamber has 7 frames drawn out. Leaving two empty supers on will most likely cause them to fill the center of both and move the brood into your honey super.

For honey flow we are having an great year with all the rain. Golden rod will start in early august.

For me, i will start to feed the begining of august after i have taken any honey i can for the year. (Honey in our area after the august 1st is dark and strong.) Im going to use fumagilin B and honey B healthy since this is the only pest i usually have and get it every year.

You can wait and watch them until august 1st before you need to worry about feeding unles you have a week hive.

Your swarms should be able to forage enough to make it if they have at least one frame of drawn foundation. If they dont you should feed until 7 frames of your first brood chamber are drawn. Either way you will have to feed the swarms at some point to get enough stores to get through the winter.

Good luck. Tom
 

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I wish I had some hair for the bees to get tangled up in, hasn't been a problem yet for me. If it was me I would begin feeding the new swarms you have hived and try to get them built up good for winter and I wouldn't try to take any honey from them. The other two you might want to consider feeding but then again you wont have any honey this year but it might help them to draw out your comb for next year. I would like to have a little of your bad luck and catch two of my own swarms by accident.:) I would just try to get all the hives well established for next year and if your using the excluder i would pull it out too or add a brood frame above it to help coax them up and drawing out more comb. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
K, see if I got this right...

Dont expect any honey this year

Only have 1 empty brood chamber on the hive and when it gets 7 drawn comb then add a second.

Pull the empty honey supers that are not drawn out

Thank God one more time for my 'bad luck'

Feed in August

I do know that the hives they swarmed into had some old uncapped honey in the frames so I will assume they will do with that what they need (either dispose of or use). My mom said that when she got home yesterday there was a pile of debris and old dead bees outside of the second swarm hive, since we hadnt cleaned out those hives yet I will assume they are just doing the house keeping for me :)

Since the swarm hives took over mostly drawn comb foundation I will watch to make sure the queens are laying well and pray that I dont end up with 2nd swarms. Being that the comb is already pre-drawn do I still go on the 7 full frames before adding more supers?

I will see about finding a local mentor to maybe give me a hand. My mom always says that God smiles down on children and fools, I must be the latter of the two being 30something :)

Thank you again for all your help. These are new issues that my parents never had 30 years ago when they were keeping bees.
 

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Relax! Your bees swarmed because they're too strong and vigorous for the existing facilities. I would take off the honey supers and leave them a second brood chamber. When 8-9 frames of the second box are drawn then put on a honey super. If you have more drawn frames use some of them in the brood boxes to give the queens immediate room to lay. Just a couple of drawn frames mixed in with the foundation helps immensely. Your goal right now should be to get them built up and enough honey stored to overwinter. BTW, lots of folks posting on this board wish they had your "problems." ;)
 

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Hey there:

Wow, sounds a lot like me. Just keep on keeping on, and the more stuff happens, the more you learn. One very important lesson I've learned, and I guess I'll make it number one ((1), is; to be prepared and expect the unexpected.

I loved hearing your adventures, and we have so many great folks on here, and loads of experience and stuff to learn from them.

All the best,

casper_zip
 

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Your beekeeping adventure sounds like great family fun!

My bees will often build burr comb between frames, either within a box or between boxes, and fill it with honey. If yours do the same, you can get a sample of honey by scraping some of that off and carrying it back with you. I do not recommend eating any while in the bee yard.

I've heard of several different techniques to head off swarming, but the most effective in my experience is to stretch the brood chamber by adding an empty frame in the middle of it. I've been doing this whenever I inspect a hive, unless it's looking really roomy.

When you added the second brood box, did you move a non-brood frame the bees had already been working up into it? This helps a lot to get them to move up and continue building out.

I've found that when I don't adequately secure it, my spare equipment attracts both swarms and robber bees. If they really get to robbing, it creates quite a bit of bee traffic. Catching swarms that way is really wonderful luck. Fine work!

Finally, the Minnesota Hobby Beekeepers Association is meeting at 7pm this evening in 335 Borlaug Hall on the Saint Paul campus of the U of M. You will be very welcome if you decide to come. Our membership includes several families with young children, and quite a few older beekeepers with a wealth of experience. We also do a youth scholarship every year, providing equipment and a mentor to one (or sometimes several) lucky youngster who wants to get into beekeeping; this might be interesting for your children at some point. Feel free to look at our website: http://www.mnbeekeepers.com/
 
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