Comb building in top feeder

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by dejswa, Mar 15, 2011.

  1. dejswa

    dejswa New Member

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    Interesting observation from a first time beekeeper - Did not remove the top feeder soon enough. The hungry critters processed around 16# of sugar (!) in 2 gallons in this top feeder in about a month over the end of 'winter' in Dallas. Original hive had 3 brood boxes (8 frame ea) and I was opening it to add a third plus a queen excluder plus a honey box and found this:
    [​IMG]
    Some honey, some brood, some empty comb. Note that the floats (one is removed from the top of the comb) got stuck in the uppermost position. Maybe because this was the concentrated (2:1 or is is 1:2) syrup. They moved down properly with prior feedings in the fall with dilute syrup.
    We cut the comb out and secured it with cotton string into 5 frames. Was a bit messy and unplanned so it was sort of ugly, but will check at some point and see how they remodel it. Hope the queen wasn't in the mess of bees that were in the feeder. Dumped them back in and didn't see her.
    Here is the hive:
    [​IMG]
    This shows the three lower established brood boxes (about a year old now) then the new box with the burr comb from the feeder then a metal queen excluder and a 5th box on top with 8 empty foundation boards.
    Maybe I'll take some of the small, empty combs shown in the feeder and put them into the empty boards in the top queen-excluded box - vs putting them into the remaining 3 empty frames in the 4th brood box.
    Ideas?? Is this hive getting too tall?
     
  2. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    I don't think I quite understand. You say the floats were stuck in the UPPER position? Is that not your inner lid the comb is stuck to? It looks as if the floats were at the bottom and the comb is between them and the inner lid. Please explain.

    Any time there is an empty space in a hive during a flow, they will build comb in it. Always starting at the top and drawing comb downward. That's why I prefer the Miller type top feeder. It only has a small area on one end where they have access. They will fill that small area with comb at times, but it is easier to remove and the loss is much less.
     

  3. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I would guess...

    1) you have a lot of young bees in a colony with a strong population. the prior described colony with a robust 1 year old queen is a prime suspect for swarming.

    2) at the very minimum you need some comb above the excluder to entice the bees upwards. somewhere 'up there' above the queen excluder you also need an entrance.
     
  4. milapostol

    milapostol New Member

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    I had to learn the hard way not to put a top feeder on when installing a new hive. And to fill the hive boxes with frames-no empty spaces. The girls will build the comb when and where you don't expect it.
     
  5. dejswa

    dejswa New Member

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    Oops, yes I am mistaken re the floats! Good observation. Yes, the thing is upside down and the floats were in the correct position.

    Re swarming. I have placed a bait hive that I got from Brushy Mountain. It is like a big brown paper mache pot sealed on the top with a 1" hole in the bottom. It is about 25' away from the hive under the eaves of the home in the garden area and I have laced it with some bee attracter they sold me that smells like lemon grass. Seems like it would be an ideal home for a swarm. I also have an additional nuk for a new hive should they land in the bait hive. Inside the bait hive on the 'top' of the pot (which is actually the side since I have it mounted sideways) are some ridges to help the bees set up their bee spacing for the new comb. Should I put a piece of comb in there to entice them? Or melt some of comb and rub onto the inside?

    I will put some comb into the top box above the excluder. Good idea. And there is an opening I from the top of the hive in the inner lid that I can open up if I slide the telescoping cover away from it.
     
  6. dejswa

    dejswa New Member

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    Pics of bait hive, FYI . . . suggestions?
    Screws in opening as suggested in instructions to keep out birds, rodents.
    [​IMG]
     
  7. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I don't know much about bait hives dejswa but it looks ok to me. optimally you might have placed the trap a bit further away since a swarm generally 'wants' to locate itself a bit further away from the parent hive than a few feet. I suspect it should work fine right there. Is the wing on the queen in that little white box clipped?

    you can build upper entrances with builder shims.... you can buy these in packages at minimum cost at places like Lowes or Home Depot. In Texas where heat is a serious problem having 9 frames in each box and good ventilation are critical decisions.
     
  8. dejswa

    dejswa New Member

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    I'm not sure about the queen re clipped wings. We built this hive from package bees with a marked queen in the little screened box. Will try to find out. Uh, I guess this would limit her swarming ability!

    Re the swarm hive. It is further away than it looks, maybe 25 ft, but after reading a bit, sounds like it might do better in a tree somewhere. I also read that putting some old comb into the hive is recommended. In fact, they recommend using an old, worn out hive box as a bait box because of the scent.

    Re shims, do they go on top of the hive cover and under the telescoping cover? I can see how this would keep an entrance all the way around between the cover and the top, as long as it was not so big that the girls would try and seal it up. Also don't want to create an entrance too big to defend since it will be to their honey depot.
     
  9. rast

    rast New Member

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    Dejswa, the shims go in either the front or the rear of the outer cover. 2 shims, not 4. Your statement about guarding the additional entrance is correct. My worst summer with moths and beetles was when I propped up the covers. Population dwindled during the summer dearth and not enough guard bees. I use migratory covers and no inner cover. I have used several versions of homemade upper vents and am still looking. This time of the year, I can prop them up so nectar laden bees can get to the supers without congesting the brood area. When the flows over and supers are off and they really need the ventilation, I need a better way.
     
  10. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    A 3/4 inch hole two inches down from the top will give them all the ventilation they need, and they can adjust the opening with propolis to the size they want. You can also plug it or screen it easily when needed.
     
  11. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    clipping wings... this results in an existing queen being unable to fly very far. in those places with africanized bees clipping wings is part of the 'best practices' program. usually you pay something extra to get a queens wing clipped. if your queen was clipped I would suspect she would find it difficult to get to the swarm trap. a clipped queen flies in an arc and generally hits the ground 20 feet or so on the ground directly in front of the hive.

    ps... a 3/4 inch hole may be sufficient ventilation at the top of the stack for North Carolina. if you are at a location from here going westward a bit more ventilation is required. in places like southern Arizona and New Mexico the bee keeper are quite inventive in regards to tops that provide large volumes of ventilation thru the top of the stack.
     
  12. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Tec, bees naturally live in trees. From you, going west, there are no trees. It isn't conducive to keeping bees there. :rolling: :rolling: :rolling:
     
  13. dejswa

    dejswa New Member

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    Thanks for all the tips. This is a great forum.

    Re ventilation. The 3/4" hole - are you talking about drilling it into the side of the top honey super? On the front side? Could put fine screen there for if needed to reduce the entrance and maintain the ventilation.

    Another thought - the top cover has about a half inch hole notched into one side. This hole can be opened or closed by moving the telescoping cover toward or away from that side. I could enlarge that hole or cut additional notches on the same side of the top cover.

    Re clipped queen - got mine from Weaver and they charge extra to clip and I know I did not ask for that. I do want one or more hives and after reading a bit about splitting hives, seems like that is the way to go vs waiting for a swarm and hoping to catch it! I like the 'walk away' split idea either leaving the old queen in the old hive or putting her into the new hive to sort of simulate a swarm. There advantages to either, I suppose.
     
  14. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Yes, it is normally put just above the handhold on the front of the top box. If not screened, it can be used as an upper entrance when snow covers the lower entrance.

    The opening on your inner cover should be sufficient.
     
  15. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    Iddee writes:
    Yes, it is normally put just above the handhold on the front of the top box.

    tecumseh:
    I don't like to drill holes into my hive bodies but almost 100% of the commercial folks that do this place the hole below the hand hold to limit stinging (at least that would be my guess as to their thinking here).

    I would really not recommend a walk away split for a novice bee keeper. The price of a mated queen may be viewed as high but it does save you a lot of time and allows a 'new' hive to grow constantly rather than languish for about one month while you set on your hands and hope and pray a new queen gets reared and properly mated. In a lot of places the active season is really just way to short to make this miserly strategy cost effective (penny wise and pound foolish I guess might apply here?).

    to my bro Iddee...
    here in much of the Southwestern US it is true that trees are in limited supply over a vast proportion of the country. traditionally this meant that feral bees occupied rock faces and cliff areas. these location somewhat limited their exposure to excessive summer heat and there was no question that a hive was always well ventilated.
     
  16. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Just had to tease a bit there, Tec. :wave: