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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
New, fledgling beekeeper here, in Oklahoma. I need some advice.

We've bought a rural home on 10 acres from an elderly couple who were once into beekeeping. The gave us all their old equipment with the house. We have kits for 5 new hive boxes, a smoker, 2 suits, frames, capping knife, wax foundations and a large stainless extractor.

Out in the woods is the last surviving hive which hasn't been opened in over 5 years and has a quite run-down hive box.

I would like to put the hive in a new box and possible have a new topbar hive ready for when they swarm this spring and try to entice the swarm into staying around.

Is this a feasible idea? or would time and effort be better spent trying to buy new bees and leave this hive alone?

Is it difficult to put a hive into a new home?

Thanks.

Eric
SW Oklahoma USA
 

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sure them bees have survived on their own for that long. They should have some good genetics.
They have probably swarmed before too so why not try trapping some local swarms too? for your top bar and other empty boxes.
Some might but I wouldn't try to get my girls to swarm but instead manage them and add box's when they need them thus keeping their numbers up to work the crops and help build up new comb in the new box. You might want to exchange some of the old comb frames if it looks real black and use them in your traps for added scent. once you get the original hive good and strong then do a split. It might take until next year to get them ready but maybe not.
I've had problems w/ introducing bee's onto new plastic foundation but have made it work by closing the hive up for a couple days to get them used to it. The new scent of the new box might bother them, probably not.
Look for local clubs and read through this site if you can. The search option is real easyand helpful.
Good Luck
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks Zane,

If the box isn't too dilapidated I may just add a super on the top. The bees are coming and going through a gap where the lid meets the top super. There is a deep section and 2 supers to this mess. There is no traffic at the bottom hole.

I have gone up to it several times over the winter to make sure they were still alive. I'd knock on the lid and a couple of guards would appear at the hole and show me his stinger.

I am going to open the hive in the morning and see what's going on inside. I've got the suit and smoker ready.

Any particular time of day any better than another?

Thanks,

Eric
 

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Work your bees at the warmest time of the day so that the inside population is down. Baby bees are easier to work with compared to a hive that has most of it's workers at home and they can be defensive.
Try to keep contact with the prior owner for valuable information.
You should bee able to open the hive later and shake about 3-4 pounds of bees into your TBH or make nucs.
Good Luck,
Ernie
 

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You can totally move them up as you mention, but I wouldn't hesitate to just get in there and clean it up. Have a couple new boxes and some frames of foundation ready. Any frames that are old and black and mostly empty can either be melted out and re-used or, if the wood is failing, just tossed. Be sure to keep (move to the new boxes or keep) any frames with brood or stores; once the bees are in boxes you can work more easily the old comb can be rotated out easily enough.

Be prepared for a lot of propolis. Take your time and be aggressive (in my opinion) in culling old/weak woodenware. Now's a great time; fewer bees and much of the comb is empty especially in the lower parts of the colony. Get them in some sturdier/more manipulable equipment and you'll be more comfortable examining them the first year, which is how you learn.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
OK, got up the nerve for a peek.

It's a mess. I got the top off to find an infestation of big black ants and piss ants along the sides and tops. The supers are super rotted.

The bees were amazingly docile, but I only had them disturbed for about 20 minutes. The top super looked to be full of brood. I scratched the top of the sealed cells and there were guts. I was hoping for a sample of the winter's leftover honey store.

It will all need a major work-over.

Should I take the newer hive box that I have and attempt to transfer the frames into it and leave it located where it is, and then build a new one to try and catch the next swarm?

I'll upload some pictures later tonight.

Thanks guys, this is exciting.
 

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If it were me, I'd bring all the brood frames into new boxes and then new boxes of foundation above that; they'll move up into it as the year goes on. Keep it at the old location and get rid of the rotten boxes... they're just a hassle to work with and if the thing slumps, crumbles etc. you'll be bummed! Plus they'll be robbed, preyed on and whatnot. If you use a hive stand of some sort, you can solve the ant problem readily by putting the legs in coffee cans of oil or putting a band of axle grease around the legs as a "moat".
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Here's a few more.







Or the middle image, what are the large, light colored cells?

If I move what frames I can to new boxes should the queen be pretty easy to find and move?

Thanks,

Eric
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hate to tell ya but all you might be able to salvage out of that hive is the tin on the top and the frames maybe. The rest looks so rotted that i doubt you can do anything with it.
Methinks, you're right. I have enough stuff to get going, except a deep brood box. I'll have to nail something together for that. All I really want is to salvage the bees.

Thanks,

Eric
 

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Yow can see a few bees in the photos. Some flying in the first, and one or two on the frame in the second. Not to mention a lot of capped brood in the frame.;)
 

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The lighter-colored ones are capped drone cells. As to the transfer, if you see the queen, great! If not, no worries. Work cautiously, which can be frustrating, but try not to risk crushing the queen (or any bees) when levering out old frames. Work through the whole colony, box by box. When you identify the "keeper" frames, but them into the new equipment with any clinging bees. Be sure to keep brood frames together and try to keep tham in the same orientation (don't reverse any relative to their neighbors, but not critical). Any frames with bees on them that you're NOT keeping, shake or brush the bees off of and into the new equipment and set aside.

When you've worked through the last of it, give them some feed, close up and leave them alone for a week or so while they reorganize. Have a bonfire with the old stuff you can't save (when in doubt, let it go :)).

You might want to consider (once they're established) moving them to a sunny spot... that under-a-tree deep shade thing might be somewhat less than optimal. Bees like sun.
 

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Poohbear, I have to say that I'm very excited for you. You must have some strong bees in there and I'm sure they'll appreciate being in a new, sturdy home. Good luck with getting everything situated. It should be a nice project for you. Let us know how everything turns out.
 
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