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Hi everyone,

Here's a little background information before I begin.

-I live in a high and dry area of Colorado at 9000ft. The nectar flow isn't on yet. We are just beginning to see penstemon pop up, but it has mainly been dandelions and asters up until now.
-I installed my nuc into my new horizontal langstroth on May 17th and the bees seem to have filled the three inside nuc combs with brood. I installed the nuc at the front end of the hive entrance
-I use foundationless deep langstroth frames
-There's a new emergency queen cell being built but I HAVE seen the queen and she is laying very well.

Anyways, in the two weeks that I've had the bees they haven't drawn out any comb. They seem to have added a bit of nectar and pollen to the outer two frames and right now the queen has layed in just about every available cell... I'm wondering if I should checkerboard on the outside of the brood comb? Any ideas on why they may not be drawing comb and what I should do to fix it?

Thanks!

Brittany
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Welcome to Beesource Brittany. Are you feeding them? You say the flow has not started and it is a new nuc.
 

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Welcome to Beesource Brittany. Are you feeding them? You say the flow has not started and it is a new nuc.
I just started feeding them today. The folks that I got these bees from this year actually started their apiary from a Colorado swarm years ago. They said that they have never fed them and they let their queens mate naturally. They also said that they've had 100% success in overwintering their hives. They didn't recommend feeding them so I hadn't, until now. It did look like they were bringing in quite a bit of pollen, so I figured that they would have been able to build a little bit of comb... but there wasn't any new comb when I went in today.

The flow definitely hasn't started though. The trees are just starting to leaf out and my Russian sage is nothing more than just a little nub coming out of the ground.

Thanks,
Brittany
 

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They also said that they've had 100% success in overwintering their hives.
I was at a conference last fall, and one of the keynote speakers said something that has stuck with me ever since.

'When somebody tells you they haven't lost bees over the winter, bear in mind, they probably lie about other things too'.
 

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I just started feeding them today. The folks that I got these bees from this year actually started their apiary from a Colorado swarm years ago. They said that they have never fed them and they let their queens mate naturally. They also said that they've had 100% success in overwintering their hives. They didn't recommend feeding them so I hadn't, until now. It did look like they were bringing in quite a bit of pollen, so I figured that they would have been able to build a little bit of comb... but there wasn't any new comb when I went in today.

The flow definitely hasn't started though. The trees are just starting to leaf out and my Russian sage is nothing more than just a little nub coming out of the ground.

Thanks,
Brittany
Hi Brittany, welcome.

You have a few choices here. The first of which is to talk with the folks you got the bees from with full intention of following their advice and and style of beekeeping and do what they tell you to do.

Natural, "treatment-free" and other terms that many people will equate with woo-woo, crunchy-granola, hippy things, can and does work for many people. Well, 2 kinds of people. Those who do it and go about their lives and those who write books and speak about it. You are best to learn this style from someone, local, in person who can point at things, or say, "No, not like that, do this...". Like learning to cook from your grandma. Much of what you will read in the books, may have worked for specific persons, in specific locations and may or may not be relevant to your specific situation.

On the other side of the pendulum are the "commercial" beekeepers. I think perhaps the pejorative term is to call them "industrial" or something like that. One, however, might now call them "traditional" beekeepers. If you take a course, or read any of the plethora of books written since 1987 you are going to get basically the same techniques and recommendations. (And they will strongly contrast with the "Natural" or "Treatment Free"). Their techniques have associated products, chemical and otherwise. They also have lots of books and college courses and scientific data backing up what they suggest. After all, there are lots of people making lots of money employing others, and supporting industries by using these techniques. They will normally start off with "There is nothing natural about putting bees in a box." or "Bees are livestock". This is where I like to insert the term, animal husbandry.

So decide ahead of time which path you are interested in. The going train of though on natural beekeeping and horizontal usage (as I understand it) is that bees have been around millions of years, and know how to build a nest, provide for themselves, raise young, and store what they need to make it through the winter. They also know how to further their species and reproduce. So make sure they have enough room, and access to resources and let them do their thing. If there is no flow yet, then they only have the food they packed in their respective suitcases when they moved in. Depending on how many frames filled with resources you got in your nuc, that is what they have. If your style is against feeding and treatment, this is the time where you simply get out of their way, and wait for the flow and hope for the best.

On the other hand, if you are not wanting to go that route. There are folks that believe that the varroa destructor mite is a major problem. You need a full on plan to attack it at every turn, especially during broodless times using chemical insecticides, acids, and other such things. If you don't have feeders or honey on this might be an opportune time to employ some of these techniques before the temperature or mite counts get out of control. In addition to that, since you don't have any flow you may also consider feeding 1:1 sugar syrup, and perhaps even some pollen substitute since they pretty much need sugar to build comb, and pollen and sugar to raise brood. If you do not want to wait for the flow to provide these things, then you need to do so. Or don't expect them to do the things they would if the flow were on.

This may or may not have been the answer you were expecting. There are some amazingly knowledgeable people here who can give you some very specific advice. Just be aware that you may get some conflicting advice due to camp politics or location specifics. If you have not heard it yet, the saying goes that "Ask 10 beekeepers and get 20 different answers." Which I simply bristle at.

You should have a "local" at least at the county level beekeeping association. At the very least you should have a state one, since I am not aware of any states that do not. Join the local/county one at the least. Get to know some of those people, they might even be your neighbors. But what they know, and have learned will definitely be specific to your area. I would also recommend reading up on bee biology, and things along that nature to help you understand what is going on with your bees. Why and how they do the things they do, so you can at least guide it, of not outright control it.

Good luck and have fun!!
 

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I was at a conference last fall, and one of the keynote speakers said something that has stuck with me ever since.

'When somebody tells you they haven't lost bees over the winter, bear in mind, they probably lie about other things too'.
Well - I haven't lost a single over-wintered colony for the last 7-8 years (it's been so long I've lost track of time) - so it could well be true. Although those people who readily accept high winter losses probably wouldn't want to hear such talk.

I do have poor results during the season, mainly due to poor mating - something I'm still working on.

One of the best sayings I've ever heard is not to judge others by one's own standards.
LJ
 

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As far as whether to checkerboard the outside of the brood comb- Yes, that's what I would do. They also tend to leave the outermost frames alone giving them a disadvantage in the winter if not corrected.

Bees in a certain age range are the ones that draw wax. They also need a nectar flow to stimulate them. I would feed them especially if there is no flow and/or checkboard/move frames around on the outer edges until it's drawn.
 
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