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One of the first things all the beginner's books seem to say is: Locate your apiary in full sun.

Unless I can get a permit to cut down about a hundred 40+ year old trees, that is an impossibility. An out-yard won't work either. About 50% of the trees out back are pine and the other half is a mixture deciduous trees - oaks, birch, even a couple of apples. Thus, more sun in winter than summer, and almost no wind. My neighbors (many of whom have 5+ acres) have lots of forage, especially Dutch clover that they seem disinclined to mow. I'm in suburban Atlanta, so when I started last year with two packages I thought they might benefit from some tree cover in the summer sun.

Well, there wasn't much sun in Atlanta this summer. I had a horrible time with small hive beetle. The Sonny-Mel traps I installed caught a total of one after a month. I inoculated the ground under the hives with Heterohabditis indica in late August, when the serious floods began. The Hood SHB traps (2 per hive) I installed in late September seemed to be more effective at luring the little buggers in but the bees were done drawing comb by then. Thus, the grooved bottom bars also served as a space where the SHBs could evade the bees. I dithered about leaving them in over winter, but they trapped several dozen SHBs, so I compromised and just left one in.

I lost one hive to queenlessness (probably due to beekeeper error) in September. The other never drew more than about 6 good frames from the small cell foundation strips on which they started. I fed constantly and am still feeding, having just added a Megabee patty last week. The living hive seems to be overwintering on her original 6 frames. By heft, I would guess they're about 30-35 lbs. I'm pretty sure the queen was superseded and that her daughter managed to find a dry day for a mating flight. When I saw her she no longer had her green dot and, though she was bright gold, the workers went half golden/half dusky grey-black by November. I'm okay with that. Those were the first bees I saw out last year. The brood was sparse, but the pattern was solid - no shotgun blasts and in a small semi-circle.

So my questions are:
1. How much of my travails were due to the shade? We're talking dappled sunlight all day but never full sun. This is the "sunniest" spot I could find on the whole acre.

2. Will SHBs always be the bane of my existence in this location? My varroa counts didn't seem to be a problem, ending at a third the level the package came with.

Corollary: Have you used H. indica and, if so, did you notice a difference?

3. Is this a typical package story? I know they rarely produce surplus in the first year, but reassurance is welcome.

4. Finally, would you keep the new queen? I'm inclined to for the suspected Russian contributions to her spermatheca and nice, but sparse, laying pattern. In her defense, the last time I saw my store-bought queen was May 24 and I didn't see the new one until November 8. Supersedure could have happened any time in between, but the brood pattern on this hive has always been solid.

Thanks for your help!
 

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I would say to keep the queen, but I'm sure others will disagree. I say never pinch her majesty before she has been given resources and time to prove herself either way.

Full sun is better than full shade, hives just seem to do better with less stress do to SHB and Varroa, but full sun by itself is not a cure or fixall for either pest. Keep your bees where you can and research and learn how to combat the SHB and other pests in your area, is my advice.
 

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Full sun is best but you can still do well in partial shade. I've tried all the traps and have concluded that they all work to some degree. I've had the best results with the screened bottom board/tray combo using diatomaceous earth. I think the freeman trap would work. Several other things you can do are: caulk the inside joints of your boxes, keep strong colonies, use migratory lids to eliminate the inner cover and all the hiding places associated with it, get rid of the metal frame spacers for the same reason, fill voids (groves) in your frames with melted beeswax, don't give the bees too much space to defend. I've also found that since switching to Russian bees I have less problems with beetles. They seem more aggressive in fighting the beetles. Good luck. It's a continuous battle.
 

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>1. How much of my travails were due to the shade? We're talking dappled sunlight all day but never full sun. This is the "sunniest" spot I could find on the whole acre.

Bees normally live in trees in the woods in full shade. But they do seem to thrive in full sun. They are very adaptable to where ever they end up.

>2. Will SHBs always be the bane of my existence in this location? My varroa counts didn't seem to be a problem, ending at a third the level the package came with.

I haven't dealt with SHBs really. Although they are around here now. Half of my hives are in shade, just because that's where they ended up as far as available spots.

>3. Is this a typical package story? I know they rarely produce surplus in the first year, but reassurance is welcome.

They seldom produce a surplus the first year. But it is certainly not unheard of.

>4. Finally, would you keep the new queen? I'm inclined to for the suspected Russian contributions to her spermatheca and nice, but sparse, laying pattern. In her defense, the last time I saw my store-bought queen was May 24 and I didn't see the new one until November 8. Supersedure could have happened any time in between, but the brood pattern on this hive has always been solid.

If the brood patter is solid and you are not unhappy with here what is the issue?
 

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Claressa:
Coming in after MB is a "tough act to follow". But I have a couple comments.
As it applies to the SSQ, genetic diversity is considered an asset in some circles. I used mutts and hybrids of mutts for many years, and typically they performed as well or better than the purchased Q.

Older books suggest morning sun to get started earlier and afternoon shade to help with hive cooling. Used that for my locations. The best location was an open field with woods surrounding the northwest corner. Hives located in that corner had the advantage of early season sun in the moring when the sun angle is low. And shade in the afternoon.

The current recommendation for full sun in beetle areas is well founded but not explained. It helps because our bees can tolerate higher temps than most insects. That adaptation is a product of their lifestyle - thousands of heat-producing bodies in cramped quarters.

Ran an experiment years ago on trying to run a colony out of a residence with a controlled heat source. With temp sensors in the cavity (meat thermometers) incrementally increased the cavity temp at roughly 15 min intervals. Aborted the test when honey started running out at the bottom and no bees had exited to the outside. Inside air temp from several monitors read above 150 F. Note that wax comb softens and weakens below the 147 melting point. The colony was not killed by this exposure and persisted for at least a month. Granted, this was a rough test, but it hints that bees can stand higher temps than we would expect.

Walt
 

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When I inspected hives for NYS there was an apiary that was in a maple grove, a pretty dark place. If I suspected foulbrood, i had to take the frame somewhere near the apiary where sunlight was coming down throough the leaves. When a nectar flow was on you could see the bees streaming up into the open patches of sky visible through the leaves. They used to make quite a bit of honey there.

The new beekeeper moved the yard out closer to the road so they are no longer in the woods. the bees are easier to work now, less testy.
 

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As far as the SHB they will have less SHB if the hives are in the full sun instead of full shade. but being from Ga. you are going to have SHB in just about every hive in the summer. thats just the way it is. just stay on them in the summer and when you see a few put bettle eaters in and keep a check on them. I would leave the queen in now and see how she preforms during the spring build up. Good Luck David
 

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i am a first year beekeeper and i had a terrible time with shb to. my solution was to modify my bottom boards to acept oil trays and i bought some bettle barns and baited them with roach killer. i also spread cinniman on the outside edges of my frames so that the shb would move to the center of the hive, then the bees would chase them down into the oil traps or into the bettle barn where they would die. this year i plan to make grease patties with some wintergreen essential oils. the shb and mites can't stand wintergreen.
 

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Location change doesn't sound like an option for you - me neither. 3 hours sun winter, maybe 6 summer.

SBB over freeman or west hive bottom oil trap - forget the others, too much maintenance. Every vent/entrance I have is screened, except bee entrance. No shims, no top entrance, no crooks or cranies where bees can't access - everything hot-glued tight, but most important my top box feeder is tight as a drum.

I had SHB as bad as one could get it, but never suffered from the larvae issue - just a mad case of varroa. Keep your hives tight (but breathing in our hot, humid Atlanta summers). I know SHB will be back, but I don't worry about them any more.
 

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I've tried several of the traps (Not the West bottom board yet) and so far what works best for me is the cd jewel box with the poisoned bait in it.
 
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