Forum Replies Created
Hi, Susan –
I talked to Chip. Very accessible and available and all around nice guy.
He’ll come by next week and meet in person, though he’s not particularly local; (I’m in North Hollywood, near Sun Valley/Burbank.) Nonetheless, that’s all I wanted was someone TF to check things out once. I appreciate the reference and all of your help!
There has been no real activity in the split hive for a couple of days. As you know, I intend to combine the two. I have simply been working on construction of the second box for the swarm hive. In reading some of your replies, Susan, to other posts, I noticed some advice about supering a growing hive. The swarm hive has 4 of the 8 frames completely full, and 2 others about 2/3–3/4 of the way full of comb. I intend to cull out any non-bee-made comb (previous beek) from the split box before transferring those frames to the swarm hive. (I will leave all occupied comb alone in the swarm hive.) After reading your response to the other post, should I also swap a few frames of brood out of the lower box into the new upper box? I will be bringing a full frame of honey from the split, at least.
Hi, Susan –
I will try to answer your questions and address your concerns as directly as possible.
<<I am trying to help you understand how planning what to do needs to be based on the fundamentals of understanding the bees. If I had got this information in my education, it really would have helped me know that the manipulations won’t elucidate much if they are not in combination with clear goals of understanding the state of the colony.>>
I assure you, and hope to demonstrate as time goes on, that I understand this concept completely. However, understanding the concept and being familiar with which actions successfully lead to the desired outcomes by interpreting the bees correctly are not the same thing. I sincerely appreciate your guidance!
I must also clarify, I think you may be misattributing many of the actions I’ve described though taken by the previous beekeeper as of my doing. But, I’m trying to provide as thorough a background as possible. I am also relaying a lot of advice given to me by both non-TF and TF beekeepers who have been guiding me in various capacities. That I recognize some of their information as less informed in the philosophies which I embrace is what led me to specifically seek a local TFBK mentor.
<<With two colonies as small as these two, looking for evidence of the Queen’s work is very important. You may know this after 5 years of prep work, as you mention, but I am reiterating that. Please don’t be in a hurry—getting to “closing up” and removing old broodcomb>>
I do understand this, but it was my very first time in the boxes by myself, ever, and I was nervous, and I did not expect to be doing it alone. Again, to call it an inspection is probably a misnomer. However, the hivelog I keep does not have a tab for “going in the box,” and I inappropriately applied the term. I have been and will continue to be much more thorough, since.
<<[Re:] removing old broodcomb (I’m not sure what this is about,either….)>>
When the donating beek hived the split he left, he used any random comb and frames that I or he had available. One of the pieces was extremely old comb that I had been advised not to use. Again, I was not home when he did the split and had to change some of the things that he had done.
<<BTW—I mention the part about not focusing on splitting because you wrote this ”I will consider doing a split later…”>>
Oh, I know. I just wanted to clarify that I was not considering doing it until I had gained more experience and not without the advice/help of someone very knowledgeable.
<<Splitting is not what I consider a task to be undertaken by “…more experience than my “None.” as you describe.>>
I couldn’t agree more!
<<It is just my bias, but based on experience, that “planned queening decisions” are best undertaken by the bees themselves over buying queens.>>
Exactly the kind of TF experience/advice I’m looking for. Thank you!
<<One practice that is VERY helpful is the keeping of a log for recording the progress of your learning and the state of the hives every time you go in. I still keep one—with 40 or more hives, I can not rely on memory, and learned early on, that even with ONE hive, memory fades very quickly once one leaves the bee yard.>>
You are right! In my industry we keep a checklist and logs for all of our operations. I have been using HiveTracks, as well as a pen and paper notebook.
Thank you again for all of the advice! I will reach out to Chip this week, though he’s not particularly local, so I don’t know what his policy is regarding a little bit of travel and traffic.
OK, I should not have called my first entry into the hives an “inspection.” It was only 3 days after they had been placed there, and again, I was focused only on getting out the old broodcomb, expanding the reduced entrance on the other one, and closing up. I did not check for eggs or queen cells or anything of that kind, because I was relying on the person that set this up to know more than me and I was intending to leave them alone for a while.
I have reported any other information as it was told to me by other people. As I said, I have never done this before, and I’m relying on third-party information every time I get into the hives. The arrangement is that these bees were donated to me and placed on my property while I was not home. All of the manipulations I’m describing happened BEFORE I got them. The person that placed them here has had minimal availability since and I am doing the best I can with the information I have.
I am not and was never thinking of splitting any time soon. Again, perhaps late in the year, or early next season, depending on advice from you knowledgeable people. In the meantime, I was intending to just combine the hives into the strongest one. I will assemble the transferring box with all frames, etc. before placing on the hive.
Thanks again for the quick advice and resources!
Incidentally, my understanding is that when the virgin queen emerged in the split, they after-swarmed.
Thank you so much for the swift and attentive reply! I’m sorry for my delay; I just returned from a conference and am scrambling to catch up on many things that got put on hold.
I actually familiarized with the math and biology/behavior, having taken a few courses and researched information, etc. during the 5 years I prepared the hives and especially the recent months waiting for bees. I’ve also gone to mentoring workshops, and meetups, and visited other apiaries. I do have all 3 volumes of Michael Bush’s book, but have actually not spent very much time on his website. Thank you for that chart! I printed and added it to my bee log/journal. My real “problem” isn’t head-knowledge, it’s hands-on prior experience. I do have mentors and fellow beek-acquaintances of varying experience in my area, but they are not treatment-free, and not all discussions flow comfortably.?
To help clarify, the split was done around the 1st or 2nd of June. Thing is, as told to me, that colony was already the result of a split done in February (queened with a Hawaiian hybrid) that was very strong and active and had been making queen cells for weeks (which the beekeeper continually crushed), prompting the 2nd split. He did that split while I was not home, and it is unclear to me if there were already queen cells at the time, or if so, how old they would have been. There could have been an emerging virgin queen nearly immediately, or not for a couple of weeks.
This is the status of things as I did my very first inspection [EVER in my life] of that split hive and the growing swarm hive on June 5. I changed the entrance reducer setting on the swarm (more open) and removed too-old, unoccupied brood comb from the split the donating beekeeper had put in there while I wasn’t home. All of this while handling frames and bees and comb and propolis for the first time on my own, trying to work the *$@#!%* smoker (I have a love/hate relationship with that device) and frame perch and hive tool on boxes and frames cemented together, in a StayPuff Marshmallow-style hazmat suit in some pretty busy airspace, nonetheless!
While I wanted to be thorough, I really wanted to get in, get some designated tasks done, and get out fairly quickly. I also removed a little cross-comb, and cleaned out the hive-feeder (something I’m not sure I want to ever use again). I did have the help of a completely non-beek friend, but that was also a bit of an added responsibility for me… ensuring her safety, and monitoring actions around the bees for THEIR safety. (She was awesome, though!)
I did the second inspection alone (with my same friend), as well, on June 20 but this time we took pix of each and every frame for review later (or sharing) and 30-sec of video of each hive’s behavior at the entrance. The swarm is doing amazing and strong, with good brood frames and decent stores, and I feel bad for bothering them just for my education. The split is weak, and small, and there’s evidence of an emerged queen, but the brood comb is all empty, and there’s very little forage activity. I thought perhaps they were being robbed, but there’s still a very full frame of capped honey, so… ?
So, that’s where I am now. I am about to combine the weak, queenless hive from the split to the strong queenright hive that was originally a small swarm (both hives are currently 8-frame single deeps). It’ll be adding 2-3 frames of empty brood-comb, a full (heavy!) frame of honey and a little bit of pollen, and a handful of straggling bees, as well as another deep with 4-5 empty foundationless frames for their expansion. They (the original swarm) are currently working 6 of the 8 frames, in their single deep.
I was not sure if I should barrier between the two deeps until they get used to each other, but I’m thinking, “No”: 1) The split is SOOO incredibly small, and 2) The swarm has a frame of the split’s brood (capped & open) added on May 27, when the swarm was small and before the split was split. Those brood would be active bees right about now. I will consider doing a split later, or early next season, with some planned, conscious queening decisions, to repopulate the second hive once the first grows sufficiently. Unless I catch another swarm.
Personally, I just think the colony from the split was probably worked waaay too much, as the other half is also gone and the original queen even stopped laying, I’m told. But, I’m a novice with only as much practical experience as I’ve detailed here. I’ve been talking to Kirk Anderson (he helped me get started 5 years ago), and will reach out to Tyson (I didn’t know his status on TFBK) and Chip — thank you for the references! I don’t plan to invade my hives any more than absolutely necessary; I am just looking to know someone in the area who is treatment-free with more experience than my “None.” (And, I’m a very social creature!)?
I appreciate any and all feedback on my “plans,” clarification of my understanding, or tangential advice!
Thanks for the swift reply! I’m sorry for my delay; I just returned from a conference. I fully respect your decline, but to clarify, I’m just looking to know someone in the area who is treatment-free with more experience than my none. ?
I don’t plan to invade mine any more than absolutely necessary, either. I am about to combine the weak, queenless hive from a split to expand a strong queenright hive that was originally a small swarm (both hives are currently 8-frame single deeps). It’s 2-3 frames of empty brood-comb, a full (heavy!) frame of honey and a little bit of pollen, and a handful of straggling bees.
Good luck with your bees, as well!
I could use a TF mentor, and live very near Valley Village (Victory x Laurel), if you have any time to spare. Just someone to check out my hives and go through an inspection with me.
Let me know if you are available at all.
I didn’t get that vibe from her, but apologies for offending anyone. Just trying to pass along a request.
Much thanks again, for all of the info! I will certainly join the suggested group. I’m less concerned about honey harvesting and more about protecting broodcomb during my initial inspections. I only intend to use an excluder when I do my first split. (I already bought my VSH–Italian hybrid queen—for June pickup—to breed into the stock when I do the split, for natural mite resistance and even temperament.)
Thanks for the info, Dennis! I’m actually working with a woman that does rescues, and they are getting lots of calls, so I should have bees soon.
Susan, thank you for that. I actually have that book on my shelf and will go back and get deeper into it. In the meantime, I intend to reinforce the deep frames with two thin vertical bamboo skewers and 2 horizontal lines of fishing line, just for stability in the brood box. As a complete hamfisted newb, I don’t want to destroy fragile new comb with my ineptitude. I would leave the medium honey supers unreinforced.