Forum Replies Created
Fred— good for you and the bees. Chuck is a experienced beek, and was a student of mine. We did several cutouts together and he is able. Susan
Maria has 2 or 3 feral hives in her garden, so I am going to take a look.
Fred—thanks for the more detailed reply. I will assume that if you were not treating the bees with acaricides that the original nuc died out and ferals moved in. VSH does not convey thorough resilience to Vd, and is notoriously fickle in expression, genetically. In other words, it is not a stable characteristic, having been selected artificially by humans. Also, even if you have 4 deeps, in not inspecting for a year, there is no telling how many boxes they are actually occupying. A lot of times the bees will abandon the lower box to storing bee bread and move the brood nest upstairs.
If I knew someone capable, I would recommend you to them, but right now my students seem to have all they can handle and I can’t think of anyone. Please be careful!
Fred—how do you know these are “Italian” honey bees? Were they from a package? So, package bees usually need treating with miticides. Have you been doing this? If they are actually feral bees, they are not Italians. Please describe, for those who do not know, if they are in 4 DEEPS or 4 MEDIUMS in terms of Langstroth box size. “Brood box” is not a box size, The former is a lot bigger colony than the latter. Please do not hand this aggression off to a complete newbee. A neglected hive needs a experienced beekeeper to check it out. The bees are most likely just fine in terms of temperament, but neglect of their housing space will cause great crowding and lead to grumpiness. It is not responsible beekeeping to “give” such a colony to someone just beginning. Please vett the persons responding carefully, find out if they have a hands-on mentor and if they have some experience. Is this hive registered with the County of Los Angeles?
Yes, I have suggestions—I am a beekeeper in Manhattan Beach rescuing colonies and swarms (going to get a swarm just now in RB) We need a contact number for you as there is no way to know where these hives are, how long they have been there and if they are your managed hives or if they are wild hives
Susan Rudnicki 310-374-4779
Nancy—HoneyLove is a group of BEEKEEPERS, and we do not support “pest control” services as a viable, humane, answer to saving honey bee colonies. The perception of the inexpert public that price and speed are the criteria indicating quality is very flawed. Customer “reviews” are based on no other criteria because almost NO homeowner watches the typical response of “bee removers” which is trashing all the colony’s brood (unborn baby bees) wax combs and food stores.
“levels”? are these boxes deeps or mediums? Or how many of each? Does this include frames for all? How much are you asking?
FYI—if been there for weeks, is NOT a SWARM, but a hive removal. Much different and needing more technical skills
Just want to elaborate on this for any newbees not in the know. These bees, occupying a swarm trap for 2 years will probably have a lot of twisted wonky combs and being very crowded, likely pretty pissy. Do not take this project on without expert guidance in doing a cutout and how to properly frame up combs
Well you’d be incorrect. First of all consult with the entomological groups—there are NO hornets in So Calif. Second Chip and I removed these honey bees successfully from their soon to be demolished ground nest
Any responders—this WILL be a cutout, so know what you are doing by bringing the proper frames,knife for cutting, retentions (rubber bands or string for tying in the comb) and a nuc box. If you have no experience doing cutouts, find a more experienced beek from this club to help you. Failing to carefully re-home them can cause them to die or abscond. Best to LOOK OVER the job BEFORE you plan to do it so you can assess the size of the pot they are occupying and the population. I can tell you for certain, if a 8 pound swarm moved in, a week is plenty of time to build a sizeable amount of comb and brood. If a small swarm moved it, the situation is not so large. Help the bees establish by telling the homeowner they should stay on site a day or two and pick them up AT NIGHT, when they are all “in the barn”
HI, Simon— r.e. “checkerboarding”—Yes, this is why I define where the term was originally sourced, because it DOES get misused from the original intent. Here is a good page to read on Michael Bush’s site (one I highly recommend for the learning of keeping bees)
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesswarmcontrol.htm At the bottom of the page is a description of the Walt Wright “checkboarding” method.
I’m sorry, but all of us have to go through the same long, sometimes painful learning curve of not knowing and finding out the operations of Nature do not follow strict human guidelines of “this” or “that” You are right—there is ” no stable information for any scenario” because the craft of beekeeping has so MANY factors influencing outcomes. It is not like a math problem, where there is only one answer to 2 plus 2.
The many factors have to be in your “mental toolbox” and accessed as needed when trying to remedy issues. You only fill your “toolbox” by making mistakes, reading a lot from bee literature (VERY important—online videos are not such helpful sources, in my opinion, since they are often poorly explained, and extremely local but failing to mention that) Two very good sources for treatment Free beekeeping that I have my students read are “The Idiot’s Guide to Beekeeping” by Stiglitz and Herboldsheimer and “Save the Bees with Natural Backyard Hives” by McFarland. As well as Michael Bush’s book, which is completely available on-line—you don’t have to buy it. At the link I posted above about swarming.
Regarding all the “opinions”—one thing I would encourage in thinking about beekeeping—this relates to foundation—is considering how Apis mellifera has persisted over millions of years without the “opinions” or “help” of humans controlling for pests, disease, or the arrangement of their combs. Foundation is a human invention for frontloading the drawing of wax, but the biology of the bee colony is that they DO NOT build a uniform cell size on any comb area, nor do they construct a wall of wax and build the cells off that. Large nectar storage cells, a bit smaller drone cells, and worker brood cells are ALL on the same combs. I always urge beeks to get deeper into understanding the biology of the superorganism called a honey bee colony. Here is a really fine book, full of photos, that speaks to this subject, NOT to the management of bees—
“The Buzz About Bees–Biology of a Superorganism” by Jurgen Tautz. You will learn the very intricate feedback loops that guide the functioning of the colony decision making, the rearing and mating of queens, the thermoregulation of the nurse bees and care of the brood—SO many things that never come up in talking beekeeping with people—and things MOST beeks do not even know about the biology of honey bees.
I don’t understand your plan. As said previously, you can set them up to swarm by just putting on a empty medium—even if they are not in swarm mode now by presence of swarm queens. Reading Michael Bush’s link, he says this. To head off swarming, you need to MOVE UP some brood frames into another deep and put in empties down below. Keep the brood frames in the top box in the middle, together for thermoregulation.
If there ARE swarm queen cells, adding another deep, and moving up brood frames won’t make any differnce. They are set to swarm and you can’t dissuade them. But you’ll have half as many bees. (by the way, the “checkerboarding” epithet is misused a lot. It was a term coined by Walt Wright, and involves setting alternating HONEY and empty frames above a congested brood nest to fend off swarming.)
Not all bees swarm the same—some will swarm with just 7 frames filled. Just keep in mind, the need to lift a full deep almost NEVER happens. Once I have the brood nest established in box 1, 2 and 3 (all deeps) the upper reaches are going to be honey, since that is how bees structure their homes. Harvesting is by the frame, checking for drone brood that are sometimes upstairs. I am 8 years in, so I do very little digging around in the brood nest. Mostly, I will go to the top of the brood nest, go to the middle of the box where the eggs are most likely to show up, pull that frame, see eggs and tiny open brood. NOW, all done! They’re queen rite.
If you find the upper one or two boxes too heavy, pull some frames, place to the side in a empty hive body, and then the box you want to move is lighter. MOST of the time, a well established hive will have mostly pollen in box #1, brood in box #2 and 3. (boxes are ALWAYS numbered by the order of occupancy—#1 is the first box they occupied–it’s a system)
you do not say your location, the source of the bees (package bees or feral survivor stock) or how long they have been in your care—“all beekeeping is local” is the old saw. Bees in Topanga or Malibu have much more difficult food supplies at this time than bees in the urban gardens of the city where there is a larger diversity of flowers for nectar and pollen.
Package bees will often build up early and heavily (Italian bees are the most common variety sold) but unless treated with acaricides for their distinct mite weaknesses, they usually crash by Autumn and die out in a year.
Bees in LA swarm at ALL times of the year. It has to do with crowding, not the time of the year. Please read up on the swarming impulse and how it comes about here, and keep in mind, Bush is in Nebraska, not LA, with our mild, year around weather—http://www.bushfarms.com/beesswarmcontrol.htm
Adding a “super” with foundation is not going to make the bees move up. They could still swarm with that empty box of foundation on top. (I do not recommend foundation as the impressed cell size is too uniform or all the same size and bees do not build their combs with all one cell size. Foundation has been sourced from commercial beekeepers applying chemicals and setting their bees on industrial crops laden with pesticides, so the chemical residues in commercially made foundation are a added insult to your bees’ health. Foundationless frames are very much more healthy. Bush has it here—http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoundationless.htm If you are using plastic frames and foundation—that is worse, in my opinion. Bees don’t live naturally on plastic) So, bottom line, your bees could swarm at any moment, unless you “brood up” a few frames into another deep.
Mel— 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 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, ” 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’m not sure what this is about,either….) would not be a relevant plan, based on what has been written. BTW—I mention the part about not focusing on splitting because you wrote this ” I will consider doing a split later, or early next season, with some planned, conscious queening decisions, to repopulate the second hive” Splitting is not what I consider a task to be undertaken by “…more experience than my “None.” as you describe. It is just my bias, but based on experience, that “planned queening decisions” are best undertaken by the bees themselves over buying queens. 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.