Messy hive

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by markles, Jan 5, 2012.

  1. markles

    markles New Member

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    Hello all.
    Presently I have seven hives. One of them was given to me by one of our local farmers and I would appreciate some advice on how to sort it out. The hardware is in good shape - it was a survivor in an apiary that was destroyed by a bush fire. The origional colony was killed off by the smoke but it was later colonized by a new swarm. The farmer lost interest and gave me the hive (Langstroth) with bees. I've had it about 2 months now.
    I have been into the hive and removed fine roots that the bees were struggling to get out - the comb in the frames is full of burr-comb and there isnt a lot of bee space in there. I have a queen excluder and super on and although the brood chamber is almost full these bees refuse to go up into the super.
    Lately I've noticed small clusters on the front of the hive in the late afternoon and early this morning they were again clustering and I noticed, fanning. They are in mid day shade but our mid day temperature was 97F yesterday.
    I obviously need to do something about straightening out the comb but how to go about it. Does one just trim off all the burr-comb with a knife and put the frames back? All of the frames at once or a two or three every couple of weeks?
    Any advice would be a great help. :p

    Thanks and regards
    Mark
     
  2. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    a snip..
    I have been into the hive and removed fine roots

    tecumseh:
    well you have aroused my cat like curiosity here. roots... please explain.

    another snip.
    these bees refuse to go up into the super

    tecumseh:
    is the super straight foundation? I would likely close off the bottom entrance and place an entrance (or entrances) at the top of the stack.

    another snip..
    afternoon and early this morning they were again clustering and I noticed, fanning. They are in mid day shade but our mid day temperature was 97F yesterday.

    tecumseh:
    if you have some extreme heat situation you might wish to think about reducing the number of frames to 9 (in a standard 10 frame langstroth hive). this allow for just a bit more space and greater ventilation.

    another snip..
    Does one just trim off all the burr-comb with a knife and put the frames back?

    tecumseh:
    I myself typically do this all at once and generally in the spring of the year. I use the flat blade of a hive tool for the tops and bottoms and do this without removing any frames from the box. then I use the curved blade or the flat blade to remove excess wax from the sides of the top bars one frame at a time. it takes a bit of time but makes the next inspection much easier. <i kind of consider this + cleaning off the bottom board to be an essential spring time bee keeping chore.. I don't really hire anyone here but if I came behind someone who I did hire in the spring time who didn't do these two essential task I would consider firing them on the spot.
     

  3. markles

    markles New Member

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    Thanks for the input Tucemseh.

    The hive has always stood on a frame waist height above the ground. The roots were like lace almost - dont know what from. A picture says a thousand words:-[attachment=0:1xlbgvt7]IMG_3685a.jpg[/attachment:1xlbgvt7]
    When I opened the hive I removed about four times the amount that you see the bees trying to get out. It was on the floor in the corners.

    The super has starter wax foundation strips (1 inch wide) the same as was used in the brood chamber.

    The temperatures we have now are pretty typical for our summer. It is hot but of my seven hives this is the only one fanning. As I mentioned it was early this morning (about 65F) when I noticed them fanning. I have already removed one of the 10 frames (about 3 weeks ago) and at the time, having removed frames to inspect, I doubt if I could have gotten all 10 back in.

    I follow what you suggest about the frame edges and will make it a routine chore in the future. The problem is comb spanning between frames (perhaps I've got the terminology regarding burr comb wrong). Its mostly not confined to the frame borders.

    Thanks for the help thus far. I'm sure its fixable.

    Cheers

    Mark
     

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  4. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    Mark:
    it looks like debris removed from wax moth infestation. upon close examination it should look like cobb webs with a bit of wax added in. this will quite often appear in the corners (natural no real cause for alarm) and chewed holes will often appear in the comb where the bees have recognized this infestation. it appears there has been some wax moth but by appearance 'the girls' appear to be attending to the problem.

    another option for the super is to add one frame of drawn comb in the middle of the box to lure the girls up.

    with hand size bits of wax between frames I remove these whenever I run in to them.

    good luck..
     
  5. markles

    markles New Member

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    Thanks Tucemseh.
    The wax moth debris makes sense as the hive would most probably have stood empty for some time before this new swarm moved in. Yet another lesson learned.

    I'll try putting some drawn comb in the super.

    When you say you remove hand size bits of wax between frames whenever you run into them, are you talking about comb? What I have is that in places there are two layers of comb in one frame and the extra layer invariably ends up being incorporated into the comb on the adjacent frame. So in assence the frames are "joined at the comb". None of my other hives have this problem. I'm guessing that the heat from the fire distorted any comb or starter wax that was in there.

    Thanks for the input.
     
  6. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    another snip..
    What I have is that in places there are two layers of comb in one frame and the extra layer invariably ends up being incorporated into the comb on the adjacent frame. So in assence the frames are "joined at the comb". None of my other hives have this problem. I'm guessing that the heat from the fire distorted any comb or starter wax that was in there.

    tecumseh:
    you analysis is quite likely right on. I tend to remove these without much thought. they just represent a mess that only gets worse with time. these are great places for queens to hide.
     
  7. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    First, yes, cut out the burr comb and clean up the hive.

    Second, remove the excluder until they begin using the super, then it can be put back.

    Third, as Tec said, place one drawn comb or full foundation frame in the super to give them a ladder to get to the top.

    Caution. Again, as Tec said, the queen will use burr comb to hide, so watch that you don't kill her with the hive tool.
     
  8. markles

    markles New Member

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    Thanks Gentlemen.
    I think while I'm following all the good advice I'll put the cleaned up (trimmed) frames in a new brood chamber body so that I can referb this one. It only has one entrance, unlike the ones that I make which has two, so a new entrance bar (with two entrances) will help ventilation.
    Thanks and regards
    Mark
     
  9. Barbarian

    Barbarian New Member

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    Whoa. Step back a little. How about some heresy ??
    The hive and bees were free. The bees were from a swarm. The bees could turn out to be swarmy, diseased tigers or have other hidden faults. It could take some effort to sort out the bees and hive. I would be tempted to kill the bees with a cup of petrol. The bees and the comb could be burnt. The other parts could be cleaned and sterilized. With six other hives I am sure you will find a use for the equipment. If you want to you can always make a new queen from your best colony etc. I think my option would involve less work and a surer result.
     
  10. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Many hobbyist beeks don't want surest way to best results. They want a challenge to see if they can overcome problems. Free bees and the thought of making something good from a mess is what many of us get out of beekeeping. There's no better satisfaction then turning a thorn bush into a beautiful rose.

    What if you refused to get to know any girls because you thought they "might" not be right for you? You would never get married, because you never gave one the chance.
     
  11. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    What was suggested was to put a second entrance at the top of the hive, not just add another entrance right alongside the current bottom entrance. Having an upper and a lower entrance will help keep the hive cooler and ventilated, and will also encourage the bees to start using your new upper super.
     
  12. Zulu

    Zulu Member

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    Mark

    When I brought my swarm home I Rehoused them in new woodenware after a week as I had not yet painted the hive, was no real issue taking it apart. I would take the excluder out until the comb is drawn out, and probably add an upper entrance in addition with the summer temps being what they are. My only hive that Has a solid bottom board had bearding and fanning all through high heat of summer, but never swarmed. Rest of my hives have ventilated bottom boards.

    I clean up burr comb each time I open my hives, and not all that finicky about it, if out of place it gets cut out, but Iddee also warned me on the queen hiding in it.

    Barbarian, I understand conservative thinking about swarms, and in Florida one member here was told similar advice, because of the fear of Africanised bees. Mark is already in Africa :lol: But seriously Around here, many members get their bees by catching them, and if the queen is a dud, or too aggressive , she gets replaced easy enough. At least you have a few thousand free bees. As for pests, we already have them all, and have to treat anyway.

    More pics Mark.......
     
  13. Americasbeekeeper

    Americasbeekeeper New Member

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    This may sound so simple you will never do it but -- remove the queen excluder! Do not add any supers or frames until the hive is crowded with bees to overcome your wax moth problem. Cut burr comb or it will get worse!
     
  14. markles

    markles New Member

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    Thanks for all the help everyone. I am feeling much better about this particular hive and know what I'm going to try (see post #8) - if that doesnt work, then I'll try something else. I'm still learning and keep a daily diary of my manipulations/observations so that I don't forget anything. Message to self :- if I ever get to the stage where I pour petrol on my African bees and set fire to them for anything other than some catastrophic disease outbreak, I will never keep another bee. All due respect Barbarian.
    Hello Zulu, thanks for the input, interested to know if you if you ever had any luck with your bee trees? Omie, I understand about the upper entrance and if for some reason the second lower entrance doesn't work (it does on all my other hives) then I'll try it. Large hive beetles are a problem and if possible I'd like to make guarding entrances more localised.

    Thanks and regards

    Mark
     
  15. Barbarian

    Barbarian New Member

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    Sorry Mark. I may have confused with my reference to a cup of petrol. If you need to kill a hive of bees then one method is to close the hive when the the bees have all returned home at the end of the day. You pour your petrol into the escape hole in the cover board and seal the hive. The next day the bees are dead. The bees and the cut out old comb are bundled together and set on fire. You don't want any residue for the bees from the other hives to find and possibly carry spores back to their hives. The more time you spend mucking about with a duff hive then the less time you have for looking after your good hives properly. Lets agree to differ about our approach to keeping bees.
     
  16. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    "Lets agree to differ about our approach to keeping bees"

    And that sums up why I like it here. There is no "right" or "wrong" way to keep bees. It is getting together and sharing experiences, exposing others to different approaches and allowing them to glean from the information that which works or "feels" best for them. (When done in respectful manner, with attitudes left behind, again, why I like it here) :D
    All contributions are valuable, even the ones we might sometimes disagree with.

    (except those posts with shirtless cut-out pics) :lol:
     
  17. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    :p :p :p :p :p

    MAAAMAAAA, He's pickin' on me.

    If everybody kept bees the same way, there wouldn't need to be any forums. Just one book with the rules and you would have it all. The differences are what keeps the conversation going. I especially like reading posts from other parts of the world, SOMETIMES even from the tundra.
     
  18. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    'la difference' is what generates the conversation.... otherwise WE would all be just going around nodding our head and on rare occasion say 'what iddee said'.

    there is of course 'by definition' a great deal of differences here (on this board) in folks experience. for example only with significant experience can anyone determine when a hive is a duff (or dud as I would say here) or that a hive is swarmy or stingy. at the other end of the scale is the perception a new set of eyes (and no experience) brings to any problem.
     
  19. markles

    markles New Member

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    Hi Barbarian
    No need to say sorry, I wasnt offended in the least. I keep bees for pleasure and, being a newbe, spend quite a lot of time watching them and trying to understand/learn their behavior. I cant see myself intentionally killing them for any reason. More likely they might perish through something I've done wrong. From what I understand so far, any bee trait can be managed through manipulation (re-queening a stingy colony etc) but, infestation or disease could require extermination.
    I also fully understand that hobbyists are in a different position to commercial bee keepers where it just isnt economical to waste time and resources on a colony that wasnt started off right.
    Thanks for the input. :p

    Mark
     
  20. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    Hello Mark,
    The thing I have always done to induce bees to draw out foundation, is to bring uo a frame or two of emerging brood--sealed or in the process of hatching, and placing a frame or two of foundation, as a replacement for frames moved up. The emerging bees will relieve brood nest congestion for the moment by being " upstairs ", instead of in the brood nest proper, and will be where they are needed anyway as for first few weeks they are house cleaning/ nurse bees anyway, comb building being one of the chores they do. The frames placed in lower brood chamber will be drawn out in very short order.
    Barry