Lessons in the last year.

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by heinleinfan, Sep 24, 2013.

  1. heinleinfan

    heinleinfan New Member

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    Last fall/winter we lost all three hives. One was to robbering, another was to starving over winter (I think they had *too* much population, it was my hive that just wouldn't stop producing and they had a full deep of honey, but it still wasn't enough) and the third was the community hive that got killed deliberately, or out of ignorance.

    1. I'll do late fall combines rather than trying to make it through winter with one strong and one weaker, even if it means killing a queen. I get *way* too attached to my queens.

    2. I'll never be in charge of caring for a hive in a community setting again, unless I can rig some way to lock the hive shut. I went to do some garden work in November, and the lid was off the hive. There was still a ton of honey in it, and bee bread, so at least I had that for the start of my new hives this spring.

    This spring we got two new packages, one of the Carniolans and the other Italian. There was major early spring robbering of the hives at install. I kept them closed up for days, with in hive feeders, and then we eventually moved (something that was already planned before the new install.) The hives both survived the moves just fine, and no robbers at the new place!

    The carnie queen just never took off. Her pattern was poor and the population constantly struggled. Now, I'd read a lot that carnies kept smaller populations and they were prone to swarming when overcrowded, moreso than italians, so I thought at first maybe that's just how they roll, a smaller population overall. But that queen just never got her stuff together, and I just couldn't bear the thought of killing her. Again. They got hit by robbers, both feral bees and yellow jackets, about 2 weeks ago, and the hive was emptied in about a day. I robber screened them and covered them with a cloth in the morning when I saw the frenzy, with plans to close them up that night. I couldn't get the feeder in there with the frenzy. By that evening's checking on things, there wasn't a drop left of honey and I couldn't find the queen at all, and there were about three dozen yellow jackets *in* the hive when I opened the lid. Ugh.

    3. No, really, I'll stop being overly attached to queens now. First sign of a poorly producing queen, and she's outta there.

    4. I'll close a hive up during the day in a robber attack, even if it traps out a number of workers.

    5. I'm keeping in hive feeders in all year now, even empty, because trying to get feeders into a hive while it's in a robber frenzy just isn't working out at all. That way I can just fill them up and close them off from now on if this happens again.

    The italian package we got went like gangbusters. I split them in July and both the original package queen and the newly raised queen in the original hive just kept on laying perfect pattern. I kept getting rid of queen cells in the hives, and taking population from them to add to the carnies, checkerboarding, and talking sweetly to them to keep them from swarming, and it seems to have worked. They're both headed into winter with great population (but not too much). They also fight off the yellow jackets with a vengeance for their fallen carnie sisters. Honey stores are low, though, so I'm feeding constantly now.

    The drought this year was absolutely awful, and it felt like half the state was on fire most of the summer. Then we've been hit with so much rain so fast, and with all the burn scars, that we're flooding all over the place. So no harvest this year, but I really wasn't expecting it anyway with new installs.

    But, more lessons to put down into my book of beekeeping, so it's been a good year.
     
  2. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    I had my first robbing experience this year. I was putting bee escapes on 4 hives in one yard, and had to go through a couple of combines I did a few days prior as well. These were in 3 deep setups that I wanted to get back into doubles. Long and short, when I started to work the first triple, all hell broke loose. I went as long as I could but it was getting worse. I had located the queen so I made sure she and the brood were in the 2 lower deeps, then put on an inner cover, the bee escape, and then the 3rd deep. When I checked today the top of the inner cover was littered with dead bees. Clearly when I put the 3rd deep on it was full of robbers and the only way out was through the escape, only to be met by the colony below. Not pretty.
     

  3. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    Hi Heileinfan, are you close to any of the fire areas? Could result in some good crops of fire weed honey over the next few years.
    I would move a community garden hive for the winter. To many idiots out there that would lift the cover to see if bees are still in the hive and then panic drop the lid and run. Or kids kick the hive on a dare.
     
  4. lazy shooter

    lazy shooter New Member

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    "I get *way* too attached to my queens." I feel the same way about queens. I had a couple of experienced Beeks come help me with my bees. In particular, I requeened two hives. I had dreaded pinching the queens, and much to my joy the beeks that helped wanted the queens for their own operations. Therefore, I was able to change out queens without pinching the old one's. :)
     
  5. srvfantexasflood

    srvfantexasflood Member

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    Hey Lazy Shooter. That's a win, win situation. That's great.
     
  6. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    When i requeen a hive for new blood so to speak, i'll take 3yr. or 4 yr. old queens( they are more prone to swarm) and make nucs with them if she has been a good queen. I don't like killing a queen that was, or still is, a good producer. I have got some good queens from them to requeen fall hives, and steal brood frames from them to boost other hives. The workers will usually supersede her when she doesn't meet there liking, and i end up with another new queen and they take care of the killing. For years i have bought carniolan queens and with the many swarms i catch every year (most with an Italian look) and when my hives supersede, and i raise new queens, i end up with mutes and have very little robbing.:thumbsup: And like hieleinefan, i only use top feeders with a top entrance on the bottom of them, and leave them on year round. Jack
     
  7. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    unless there is some obvious defect I do not ever murder a perfectly good queen. the exception to this is 1) a hive is excessively defensive or hostile and 2) there is a very spotty and scattered brood nest at the time of the year when it should be tight and compact. other situation such as drone layer I now systematically combine anything useable with another hive and begin all over again.
     
  8. lazy shooter

    lazy shooter New Member

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    Tec:

    It seems that I cannot remember the obvious. Maybe old timer's disease is coming on me more quickly than I realized. It never dawned on me that I could requeen and make a split at the same time, or in a two day period of time. It would have required better organizational skills than I have exhibited with my bees to this date. I never think about selling bees; therefore, making splits in not foremost in my mind. My perfect world would be six or eight good hives. I need to think bigger and be willing to make more bees and sell them or give them to prospective beekeepers. I think give them to beeks. I've got to think more universally, because I really didn't want to kill a good queen.
     
  9. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I have often found that the hives that are the most hostile are also prolific producers....at least of bees and brood. These I have discovered are wonderful subject to then produce 5 or 6 nucs from in one fell swoop. if I have one constant rule to relay to the new beekeepers it is that you do not and should not tolerate excessively hostile bees < it of course does take some experience to understand when a bee hive is or is not excessively defensive for perfectly good reason.
     
  10. lazy shooter

    lazy shooter New Member

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    The below statement is what I recently learned.

    "it of course does take some experience to understand when a bee hive is or is not excessively defensive"

    Lborou and his old pal that did an inspection on my bees both labeled my bees as average or maybe moderately hot. Their inspection of my hives was a real learning experience for me. Before that, I thought my bees were very HOT.
     
  11. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    what I learned in the last year is that old brood comb doesn't make good candle wax but should be changed out anyway. I hope I am not about to learn that now I have mites. as it is a bit late to treat and I have hives struggling to get up to winter numbers.
     
  12. pistolpete

    pistolpete New Member

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    I learned is that the second year of bee keeping is when you slowly transition from bee haver to bee keeper. The first year you are benefiting from someone else's management practices, the second you have to worry about splits, swarms, integrated pest management, etc.
     
  13. srvfantexasflood

    srvfantexasflood Member

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    I learned that if you put so many supers on a hive that it is necessary to stand on a brick to see how the bees are doing, you are going to have a heck of a time getting those full supers off at harvest time. I hope I have that problem every year.
     
  14. lazy shooter

    lazy shooter New Member

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    ​This is what my son calls a "high class" problem.
     
  15. litefoot

    litefoot New Member

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    My lessons learned:
    1. 4 hives are way more interesting and instructive than one.
    2. Be patient with new queens...give them LOTS of time to begin to lay.
    3. I will never try to save a laying worker colony again. Too much time, money and heartache for nothing in return.
    4. Leave the bees alone. I can hear the bees saying "We'd have been fine if hadn't been for that meddling 'keep!"
    5. A booming nuclear colony is valuable beyond degree. A spring package produced 3 supers of honey and enough bees for two splits and provided enough frames of capped brood and attendant bees to save another colony.
    6. I'm warming up to organic methods.
    7. Some people look better with ​beards.:eek:
     
  16. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    now whose beard would you be talking about?
     
  17. lazy shooter

    lazy shooter New Member

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    Litefoot:

    It certainly seems that you had a fortuitous year. Your number five item makes me feel like a total failure. I agree with number seven because some men or so butt ugly that covering their faces enhances their looks. :) Come to think of it, it's a shame some women can't grow a beard. :):)

    ​Good year Litefoot.