It seems like every time I go to a forum, it's because I have some strange case on my hands that I need REAL help with. This one will be no different. I took over managing a farm in 2008, and was asked if I wanted to keep bees. My answer was "nope, don't like being stung, thanks." And that was that. Until I went to move this funky white box between two of my horse paddocks to make room for a pig enclosure. Um... The bees did not agree with this. I wasn't stung personally, but my husband's hoody took one for the team. I went to the Husdon Valley bee supply folks in Kingston, NY and bought some new gloves, some smoker fuel, a book, a hive tool and some more wax foundations for my thin little box that I found hiding under some horse blankets in the hay loft. The hive had been sitting on a base that looked like there was no means to escape. There were two large boxes on top of said base, followed by the top. I found a net head covering, a mesh bottom with a slider thing, a firmer metal screen, a flat bit with a handle groove in it and brought all of this stuff to the hive, then put things in the order the book said it should be in. It's still probably wrong. I managed to do this without using more than one or two very weak puffs of smoke for reasons I cannot understand. The smoke was weak because I, clearly, don't know what I'm doing.
Yesterday morning when we went to inspect the funny white thing, I lifted it all up by the lid and then the whole thing fell from my hands and landed on it's side. Yes, I know. I hadn't seen ANY signs of bees there, so I thought we were safe. When it was on it's side, I noticed some pretty funky looking wavy bits of comb on the bottom most boards. When I put the small box filled with new wax frames on top, I had to scrape off the really tough gluey stuff so I could get it to fit together. In short, I have no idea what I'm doing, how I'm supposed to start keeping this hive as a beekeeper, or even how to tell when we need to feed, if we need to insulate better for winter... anything really. I will do what I can to get picures today, but if there is anyone who keeps bees in the northwest corner of Connecticut that can come out and give me a crash course that involves minimal stinging, I would be beyond grateful. I want to do right by the bees, but I think there's only so much I can learn from a book. And all the books tell me how to start a NEW hive, not tackle a long forgotten hive to have healthy, happy bees.
Thanks for your patience!