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I'll be picking up my first-ever bees in late April, and I've spent hours here on the forum, working on learning the basics. (Also reading books and attended a local workshop). I still have questions, though:

1) My local(ish) supplier here in Washington re-sells packages he transports from a big breeder (Olivarez) in CA. So, when I go to pick up my bees (two 4-lb packages of Carniolans), they'll already have been on the road for a day or two. It'll be another full day of travel in two trucks and a boat in order to bring them to my house. Is there anything I should know about reducing the stress of all this vibration and temperature change?

2) Are there any questions I should ask my supplier ahead of time?

3) I'm planning to run all medium 8-frame foundationless hives. I'm just on the verge of ordering all the equipment, but am still compulsively trying to glean information. I understand it's important to feed new packaged bees right after putting them into the hive, but it sounds like it's even more important to feed them if you're going foundationless, so that they can make their comb. How will I know when it's OK to quit feeding and trust to the nectar flow?

OK, I'll keep it to just these three questions for now. But any extra advice anyone feels like tossing at me will be much appreciated!

Thanks
 

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I would spray the bees with a little sugar water. Keep them cool and dark if possible. They adapt pretty well to travel from what I've seen. I would ask the supplier if he or she knew of any treatments that were given to the bees. It's good info for you and might be an indication of the general health of your packages. Feeding is important so that they can pull wax. Many times, a good flow will stop the bees from taking your food. In a healthy colony, you'll find a little pollen and honey near the brood. As the population increases and they find food, the hive will get heavy and you'll see the honey build up. You'll be fine!
 

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Just some Advice for what it worth, please correct me if I am wrong? You said this is your first year?
Ok for starters can I ask why foundationless? I understand the all natrual Idea but I would just my humble opion. I would not do that my firat year. granted people are going to come out of the burr comb for me saying this.

I look at this quite simple you have a learning curve your bees are going to to loose 20% population because they have no comb to lay eggs in foundation helps speed that up.
I would do it my second year when you have spent a year with them. but take the time work your hives let the queen be acepted have them draw out the comb. don't expect a honey harvest this year at all.
but inspect your hive at least once evey two weeks and enjoy them.

as for feeding them when 6 of the 8 frames are drawn out 100% add the next box till you have all frames drawn out with comb.

I use plastic foundation every two years I rotate out the old comb replace with same foundation clean wax. so it up to you. but my advice is try foundation first learn have fun.
 

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Hi Betsy, and welcome!!!
I have bad news for you! You are running out of time! Get your equipment ordered NOW, because it will take time to get is assembled, painted, and ready for the bees. Now, in response to your questions:
1) As long as those bees are going to be on the road, there is a danger of starvation before you get them hived. Take along a spray bottle, and quart or two of sugar syrup. Periodically mist them with the syrup. Don't soak them, but give them the food. I have hived a package the day after they arrived, 3 days after they left the shipper, and their syrup can was EMPTY.

2) Like previously mentioned, ask about drug treatments, etc. etc. Shipper should also provide some hiving instructions, but also check your bee books about that.

3) Foundationless? Go for it! Remember, level the hive, front to back, and side to side. In fact, even before they arrive, prepare the site for them. Take the hive stand out, put it on pressure treated wood or concrete blocks, whatever you're going to use, and level it. Then leave the base there until they arrive and you hive them. Less to worry about the day of installation. I don't know where you're getting your equipment, but if they don't make foundationless frames (with the guide bar already molded in - see Kelley's new foundationless frames as an example), I'd suggest getting the wedge top frames, and solid bottom bar. Then remove the wedge, turn it edgwise, and nail it in. That will provide the top guide.

Feeder - get the kind of feeder you want to us, but NOT the Boardman entrance feeder. Many of us use a hive top feeder, for ease of adding syrup. If you're going to run medium brood nest, decide how many mediums will constitute your brood nest, two or three boxes. Then FEED FEED FEED until all the frames in your brood boxes are drawn out. If they quit taking feed, that's fine. If not, pull the feeder after your brood boxes have been drawn out, so you don't get syrup in the honey supers. Here in Missouri I usually get a crop of honey off the colony the first year, doing that. They build up faster.

One last suggestion... go to the Beesource Home Page, the POV (Point of View) section, and read there... many good articles which will answer a lot of your questions. Good luck, and have fun!
Regards,
Steven
 

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Do you know if the queen will be in a wooden cage or a plastic one? Do you know how you will place the queen cage in the hive so the bees have access to her so she can be released. After the long journey the bees and queen will have together you could probally get away with direct releasing her. I don't run anything foundationless but I can see how that could be an issue with hanging the queen cage if you don't release her yourself. If you don't release her and find a way to hang the cage between the top bars make sure she is not directly below the feeder if you use pail or jar above the innercover hole.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you all for the good information!

StevenG, yes, I'm planning to get the Kelley's foundationless frames. I'm still figuring out the best feeder. (and I'll incorporate Beeslave's caution about placing the queen cage in relation to the feeder, as well. )

Dan, the Olympic Wilderness Apiaries sound terrific, but they sell only queens. I've already decided that whenever I need new queens in the future, I'll go to them. Thanks for the link!! The Oregon folks are just too far away; it would be a 4-day round trip for me, because I'm on a small island by the Canadian border and they're way down in Southern Oregon.

Honeydreams, I appreciate your taking the time to share your perspective. I do realize I'm taking a risk, by starting out in a more complicated way. But it sounds as if beekeeping is a somewhat chancey business for even the most experienced people, and so I decided I'd start out on the learning curve for the style of beekeeping which I want to end up doing. Who knows... in a year I may have come around entirely and be buying foundation!

Beeslave, I can find out whether the queen will be in a plastic or wooden cage... but what difference will that make?

Thank you, all!
 

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The difference in the cages would be your decision on how to affix it to the top bar so the workers have access to the screen for tending to her and having access to the candy plug to release her. Either cage can just be tied to the top bar. If it is a screened wooden cage place the screen facing down. As I stated earlier you could release her yourself but that can cause problems with her flying away for a newbee. Dig most of the candy plug out with a small pocket knife blade or a nail and the workers will let her out faster. I'm just trying to help you think out the process before the bees arrive, it is raining, won't quit for days, you need to get the package in quick and the hive closed up with feed on it.
 

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one thing Betsy Olympic Wilderness Apiaries I have tried to get Queens from them but they run out fast so get to them early! also I get my queens now from C F Koehnen of of California best queens I have used.
here is the link.
http://www.koehnen.com/
best of luck keep us posted on your endevers oh and here are some feeders I recomend
http://www.brushymountainbeefarm.com/8-Frame-Hive-Top-Feeder-w_Floats/productinfo/262/
I know you are doing eight frame mediums. just don't add the next one till all but two frames are drawn out you will be feeding like crazy. also use a feeding stimulant like Honey B healthy it helps them out.
 

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Betsy

IMHO your are doing everything right.

Bees do what they do. They are not conscious of their keeper's goals or of their existence. Bees succeed in Langstroth hives, Warre hives, Top bars, trees, etc. The factors impacting success or failure vary with location, weather, genetics, chance and fate. What one keeper swears by dooms another to failure. A complete "outsider" summed it up as follows:

"Experience the challenge on their terms."

Yes, I agree, have your gear ready, but you only need enough on hand to get them started and if needed most suppliers will send it overnight. And yes, feed feed feed. When nectar is available, mine ignore the syrup. I'm happy with a miller type hive top feeder, but they are pricey.

I installed my first and only package by putting the queen cell between new pierco foundation, dumping most in a single deep with half the frames and putting the screened package in the hive. A couple days later I pulled the package, filled the deep with the rest of the frames and left the package outside the hive. The few remaining found their way home. No spay.

If you talk to more people you will get as many different methods.

I gave the first hive away and now have five Langstroth hives and if they survived one top bar that I'm most excited about, all from swarms and splits.

If your provider is like mine, they load freshly assembled packages and drive all night for morning delivery so that stress and hazard is minimized. Typically, the bees are assembled from multiple hives and meet their queen for the first time when she arrives in her cage. The transport time keeps her safe in the cage while her subjects become accustomed to her pheromones. The alternative is traditional mail that adds days to their journey and is still successful. If you have concerns when they arrive, call your provider. After a month I found no babies, so my provider, surmising a non-laying queen, overnighted a new one at no cost.

You may want to consider starting with cut comb foundation in the first medium section to give them a start. Then alternate open foundationless frames with drawn frames. That may reduce cross comb.

Michael Bush http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm is a great down to earth and frank contributing source. He doesn't "dis" any means of management or dictate who's method is "natural." His guidance let me make up my own mind.

My bees give my honey, pollinate the neighborhood and keep blessing me with life lessons.

Please do your own thinking, welcome aboard and have a ball.
 
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