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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Greetings!

I am perplexed re: starting up a dead hive: Had a local guy look at my hives - both are dead (there are 2 stacks of supers - 4 in 1 and 5 in the other) structurally OK but no bees and only a few opportunist yellow jackets. The guy tried to tell me how to manage but 'fraid I confused myself. Am reading ABC - XYZ but not a very deep or coherent resource. SO... say I get a package or 2 of bees before it's too late How many supers should I start with to keep them happy? Do I have to do anything to the comb that's already present first? I think I grasp the basics of installing but am confused as to when to add comb for honey, and how to keep them low so they don't move brood into upper supers... Sorry if I sound confused but think I just havent read a logical reference yet...

BS (Northern WA)
 

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Picture a hive as a collection of heaters and air conditioners (bees) who can control the humidity and the temperature if there are enough of them and the space they have to heat and cool is small enough, or large enough. It it's too small it will overheat from all of the bees, but for starting out you want half to 3/4ths of the space filled with bees.

You need to decide what you want to use for a brood chamber and use it for all of the brood chamber, but If you put a package in one deep or two medium boxes (depending on how you wish to manage them) they will be fine for some time. when the bees have mostly filled (80% or so) that space, then add more. Expect to work up to a minimum of two deeps or three shallows or a maximum of three deeps or four shallows for the brood chamber. When that is 80% full you can add an excluder and some supers, but by now there are enough bees to maintain an appropriate atmoshpere for rasing brood regardless of how many boxes you put on.

The only dangers in putting on too many too soon is when you first start out a struggling hive is trying to heat, cool and humidify a brood nest with a minimum of bees. Later, when there are lots of bees the only danger is adding a lot of comb when the honey flow is over and the bees don't work it. Then the heat can cause foundation to buckle and the bored bees may chew up the empty comb.

Basically, with an established hive (a brood chamber of a couple of deeps or equivelant full of bees) during a honey flow, it would be hard to put on too many boxes.

I find ABC XYZ of beekeeping a wonderful reference book. However, you want more of a beginners book that just says, do this and that and everything will be ok. I don't have any of those myself, but there have been several recommended on here by others.
http://www.beesource.com/books/general.htm http://www.beesource.com/ubb/Forum1/HTML/000074.html


Also here's some good advice: http://www.beesource.com/pov/dick/simple.htm
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks! That helps a lot- So as I understand they will reuse the brood chamber and gradually expand it out if there isn't lots of room above. The will coexist with honey in this area, but I shouldn't expect them to make ME honey until they have expanded to the ~3/4 full mark... after which time I just replace the comb above the excluder when it's full? The comb I already have in the hive will work for them? or do I need to start them in new comb. The local guy said they will move in and clean up what is there. It is somewhat moldy and partly full - of something...

BS
 

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Something is probably pollen. If you are giving the bees comb that has things in it, it helps to organize it more like the bees would so they don't have to move it all around to reorganize it.

I'd put honey and pollen in the outside frames. Empty combs in the middle.

Yes they bees will clean things up, but if it's too full of wax moth webs, I'd tear it out and put in foundation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
fortunately NO wax moth stuff. I did find an excellent tutorial of sorts at www.buckeyebee.com/basic.html. As soon as the bee suit et al arrives I'll clean things up and inspect more closely and get a package or 2. What do you thing of the SMR bees available?
 

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I have tried the SMaRt bee from Weaver. I only had one queen and she absconded. Not enough experience to say what I thought of her. I had a Russian queen who seemed quite nice, but she was in an observation hive that didn't make it through the winter, through no fault of hers that I could see. She seemed pretty good, but I am getting some more Russian queens to see what I think. I guess I've liked everything I've tried to some extent. I really enjoyed Buckfasts for years, but this last year they turned vicious on me. I've enjoyed Italians. I haven't had Caucasians, but had a friend who did and I liked them. They were gentle, hardy and loved to propolize. I'm trying some Carniolans this year for the first time and so far I like them, but it too soon to say. The Carniolans came with Cordovan workers and they are not only gentle, but gorgeous. I think I'll have to try a Cordovan queen someday.

The nice thing about queens is you can always change them without starting over.
 

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The breed of the bee is less important than your speed at this point. Every day time is ticking away. As the year progresses, your bees will have a harder and harder time getting established and storing a crop. I have had Russians, Italians, Cordovans, Carniolans, and mostly half-breed muts. Universal with all of them is they are beautiful creatures and if given a chance will produce lots of honey and survive for another season. Time is almost running out for this year as far as establishing your hive. You still have 2-3 weeks, otherwise maybe next year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the input re: races I talked to the folks here in Snohomish and they will have them available thru the 1st week of June - hopefully my equip will arrive in the next few days and I can get them set up. She was recommending 4# packages at this point and looks like all I get to choose this year is Italians. What ratio of sugar syrup do you use for the initial set up feeds? There will be TONS of berry flower here in a couple weeks - will I need to continue to feed them thru that?

Thanks again!

BS
 

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When starting a package, I feed them until they lose interest in the syrup or they are pretty well set for winter. You wouldn't have to, but it's nice to get them a good start. My rule for syrup is, for stimulation you want it thin. 1:1 or less. You don't need to stimulate because you have a new package and it will want to raise brood. For drawing comb or stocking up for winter I go for a minimum of 1:1 but prefer 2:1. There's less work for the bees if it's already thicker.

Admitedly I often just run some hot tap water in a pan and add sugar until it won't disolve and feed it just like that without waiting for it to cool. Saves me a lot of work, the bees seem to take it well warm (especially on a chilly morning) but it's closer to 1:1.
 
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