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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sure had a ball yesterday, NOT! Went to the beekeepers meeting,not to many people were there because they were home working their bees because of the nice day. One such guy called me at the meeting and told me he caught me a swarm for my beehive so after the meeting I drove to his house to see where he lives and he is going to give my swarm to another guy so I can pick it up there tomorrow. Long story. Anyhow,when I got home finally which was probably 6 pm,I came into the house and made syrup so I could feed the swarm when I bring them home.Then I went out and got the boxes ready where I am going to put my new swarm and that is when I noticed that my own hive had swarmed already and they were all bivwacked on a cross post on my pasture fence,on the other side of the fence from where I was. I suited up,got a big horse feed bucket and a lid, grabbed a brush and walked all the way around to the gate and then through the pasture to the swarm which covered about 4 feet of the 8 foot post,all the way around it.It took three tips filling the bucket with bees and transporting them into a hive body.Hopefully I got the Queen in the box and what bees would not fit in the box,I left it out in front of the hive with a board for the rest of the bees to walk into the box though the entrance. By the time I got done all my clothes were soaked from sweat and I was beat . By the way,the topic of discussion at the beekeeper's meeting was " How to try and prevent a swarm".
 

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My mentor has had 5 swarms, he has sited poor weather as the reason he has not worked them.
Maybe he is getting tired.
Get out there and pop some lids! If it's not pouring rain and blowing sideways, get in there and have a look.

I have blundered through the winter with a hands off attitude, and I'm still not sure this one is queenright.
No more of that, I'm not going to get a good buildup with this late of a start. They will get queen right or I WILL combine them soon.
I've already given them 2 small swarms and a frame of brood, but Im not sure there was a queen in the last swarm and the colony was definitely queenless prior to the last.

You need to relax and stay calm while working the bees, it should be a Zen moment become one with the bees.
Plan what you have to do and go through the motions if you have to, to check the work flow and space.
I made a tote with everything (almost it's getting too heavy!) in it.
Water spray
Sugar spray
6 different hive tools
Smoker & lighter
medium and long cake knife & filet knife
screwdriver & 5in1 tool
Bee brush
bee ailments brochure
Queen catchers & rubber bands
HoneyBGone
Lemongrass oil
Spatula long handle
gloves to keep the propolis off
small spirit level
Frame grabber
Frame hanger
Super bright flashlight
Rolled up piece of heavy canvas

This keeps me from running around looking for stuff, or taking shortcuts because I don't have something handy.

The rest is planning, have all your gear ready fill the smoker and get it lit as you mentally go through your moves.
Have plan B ready or at least near and be thinking about plan C, that way when things go wonky you are better prepared.
 
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My biggest hive swarmed probably at least 3 weeks ago, but I went thru them yesterday and in addition to hatching worker brood I found uncapped brood, the young queen went out and got herself mated and came home. I am very happy. I was worried when I saw the reduced traffic.

My smaller hive was stuffed with bees and honey so I got 9 frames of comb out of the freezer, and made them a medium super, and pulled up the center frame of their current top box, dropped in an empty, and got out of their way. They are busy girls, mesquite and a lot of wildflowers and shrubs are in bloom.

I'm sorry you are having troubles. I did set up swarm traps about 10 days ago because that small hive looked ready to pop and I didn't have time to open it up. But so far no takers. And my big hive, that was a swarm that flew in around 2018 from I don't know where, but they have been very successful bees. I've never requeened. They do it themselves.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Well, I hope everything is under control. I went from one hive to three. The two in the forefront, one is from a swarm from my hive in the far back and the other is from a swarm that a friend gave me.
Plant Tree Land lot Wood Grass
 
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Do you have concrete under your hive stands? That's really nice. Your apiary is much neater than mine.
Plant Plant community Apiary Botany Tree
I have pond liner. Which I can put Ant Block under and keep the bees away from it. But it's pretty messy. My hens eat the SHB larva and anything else they can find. Back 2 hives are occupied. On the white stand, and the nuc, those are swarm traps. Small hive on the left just got a 2nd super this week, and they have an awful lot of bees.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I robbed my horse stalls of their heavy rubber mats to put under my hives stands. The far hive has agricultural slag under it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Nice. did the horses object?
Actually, no. We are down to one horse and one sheep now . My horse had t be put down last year prior to winter. She had a bad hip and kept going down from time to time and it was quite a chore trying to get Takoda back on her feet. We talked it over with the vet and it was the best thing for her.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I took this picture while out checking my bees of our only horse and sheep we now have . I was walking back to the house when I seen our sheep watching me. Since my horse has moved on to the pasture in the sky, the sheep and Jace have become real buddies. Jace still has his winter blanket on.


Water Sky Plant Natural landscape Tree
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Can't win for losing. My first hive swarmed again. I was able to get most of the bees in the 10 frame deep with frames installed so hoping the rest find their way in along the board. They already swarmed from the hive that my wife is checking out in the background on April 24 th and now today on May 12 th. I'm scratching my head as to why. Good thing I went out to the pond to toss some food in for the fish or I might have now seen this.



Tire Wheel Fence Plant Wood
 

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That's food and you do have water. Some bees just like to swarm. My first cut out kept swarming, about 3 times, I managed to box 2 of them I think. Maybe do a split with a different queen?
 

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A split should take the swarm right out of them. Re-Queening should get you some different genetics, maybe less swarmy?
I'm not saying your bees are swarmy! However it is said this can be a genetic trait. Not sure how well that is anchored in fact.
Leave the freshest brood in the hive and pull the queen and a frame of emerging brood and start another colony putting it in the original location.
Foragers will return to the original location to fortify/feed the single frame and queen.
The old hive will make a new queen from the fresh eggs. (downside is 50 days til you get new babies, IF your new queen returns mated)
If she doesn't return, or if you squash the queen cells you can recombine after a week or 3 (bonus is a brood break).
Recombining would be best for your honey crop, a split will likely slow honey production. (1 large colony will make more honey than 2 small)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Great advice. Thanks Gypsi and Rick.
The wife and I went out at dusk and seen that all the bees of the swarm had gone into the new deep hive body so we closed them up and transported them to their new location and then I gave them a wide open entrance and put pine needle branches in front of the entrance so they will have to re orientate in the morning when the sun hits them. For a guy who only wanted three hives at the most,I can see how this can get out of hand real fast.I now have 4 after starting into this year with only one and I still have 7 bait hives set around the farm along the tree lines. Scouts are inspecting them as well. I might have to pull a few of those as I am running out of deep frames and I still have to pick up a Saskatraz Bee nuc this month.
 
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I think I better rob my big hive, they are looking kind of crowded and they have 2 deeps and a medium. Didn't have enough honey to take in July, but they probably do now
 

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A split should take the swarm right out of them. Re-Queening should get you some different genetics, maybe less swarmy?
I'm not saying your bees are swarmy! However it is said this can be a genetic trait. Not sure how well that is anchored in fact.
Leave the freshest brood in the hive and pull the queen and a frame of emerging brood and start another colony putting it in the original location.
Foragers will return to the original location to fortify/feed the single frame and queen.
The old hive will make a new queen from the fresh eggs. (downside is 50 days til you get new babies, IF your new queen returns mated)
If she doesn't return, or if you squash the queen cells you can recombine after a week or 3 (bonus is a brood break).
Recombining would be best for your honey crop, a split will likely slow honey production. (1 large colony will make more honey than 2 small)
I wonder about bee gentics in US. maybe some one can educate me as things are different here in Aus and I am ignorant and confused. Question- most people seem to buy nucs every season, or very regularly- are your die offs from colony collapse, varroa, or winter cold? I bought a nuc when i first started and expect to never pay for bees again. We don't get as cold as much of US. I'll find out when varroa reaches me.

RE genetics- is it not true that most nucs and queens will come out of california and warmer southern states? That with 'selective breeding' we would expect too see some homogenisation of genetics if the whole country is buying out of the same places. Tom Seeleys work, where he sampled bee genes 20 years before varroa, and 20 years after varroa in US, by the latter time they had undergone a bottleneck of genes. This is likely due to varroa but I wonder also about the above mentioned queen breeding/ package supply dynamics. Any deliberate attempt at breeding will lose genes, it is almost inavoidable. (Although those African bees seem to be giving the gene pool a shake up). have I got my vague theory wrong? - as said, in ignorance. I like my bees to mate with local bees because we are considerable colder than the places that breed queens and bees here. Diversity confers resilience,,and I also want localised gene pool that is adapted to the weather and the flows of boom or bust local resources. Any clarity appreciated. Thank you
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I am really behind the 8 ball when it comes to beekeeping as this is only my second year and I went into my first winter with one hive but now have 7 going into my second winter here in NE Ohio where winters can get down right nasty. I bought my first set of bees from a local beekeeper who raises hers here and I plan never to buy bees again, especially out of places like our southern states such as South Carolina, Georgia etc. and for your reasons. I want bees that are local to my area and climate and food sources. After seeing how easy it is to just catch swarms when their hormones take over, I'll just restock that way if I have a winter kill off in my apiary. I treated for mites in July with Formic Pro and will again treat for mites again towards the end of October and again at the end of November with one round of OAV when there is no brood. I plan to wrap some hives with insulation such as my BeeCozys and two inches of insulation inside the top cover but I also plan to not insulate a few hives except for the top cover. Since even my local beekeeping club members can't agree on insulate or not, I plan to find out for myself. lol. As they say, " No guts, no glory". I just hate even losing just one bee though. Also this thing about top ventilation and entrance verses no entrance and top ventilation is another argument over here that some are very adamant about. Top ventilation and entrance worked for me last year so guess I'll do the same again, this year. Brings to mind, we have two beekeepers in our club that each have over 40 years in beekeeping and they are absolute opposites in their methods, like the opposite ends of a magnet. Makes you wonder how a new guy like me can learn anything without frustration. However, it's just not my local club with approximately 60 members that can't agree on methods of beekeeping but even on the various websites I visit, it can get downright confusing. I do agree on one thing though, keeping bees from ones own local is a path towards success.
 

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yeah totally, I had the same experience with bee keeper advice when I started- my bee mentor gave me two absolutely contradictory answers, about ventilation vs fog, two weeks apart. I think as you say, if it works for you don't change it. but keep your own observations and keep asking why? The way I've always worked, I observe and learn about the physiology of creature or plant in concern, and then work up from that. Look at how nature does it and how we can translate it's dynamics and strengths in our human manifest. So I read books and books about bees before i learned about beekeeping. I work with the hows and whys, and not the what and whens. So I'm still learning and expect I will always with bees. However, with the benefit of experience and hindsight, when I consider the choices I made early on, (hive set up and management) I'm happy that my instincts seems to have worked out very well, and I wouldn't change it if i could.

I think, re ventilation- I will explain my thought process...
In a tree, a hollow starts with a breach in the tree's immune defences, maybe branch broken or borer attack, and fungus gets a hold. fungus munches away and rain now is gathered to pool or run through, promoting the fungal decomposition. Over time, the hole gets big enough that a honey bee colony would call it home. honey bees will start the comb building near the top, leaving vertically room for expansion, and then extend downwards as they need to. In the meantime, the hole is growing downwards still. A large hollow, maybe one that goes to the ground, will be cool at the bottom, with leaf litter and perhaps fungus, other detritvores, ants or other critters. Bees will scrape back punky wood on the walls of their tree hollow and the roof, but not the 'floor'. So heat will always go up, the entrance hole is usually not at the very top, the ' roof' is sealed, there is no other direct way for hot air to escape. So up top there's much bee activity, they are always grooving around doing bee things; I suspect that the dynamic between the warm, moving top and the cool, potentially ventilated bottom, will create a very small, constant amount of air mixing. Bees coming and going out of entrance hole will also provide a small, constant, inflush of fresh air. I've read that brood need 55% and 75% humidity to prevent desiccation, CO2 levels 30% and 60% similarly confusing- both are reflections of ventilation. My preferred bee hive set up - year around- is permanent insulation, ongoing constant small, volume of air inflow, cooler floor. My entrances let in very little fresh air, it's what bees bring in. The only seasonal change I make is to put on a honey super, and if it's above 30 deg C (86F) and they are curing honey, then I will open up the vents on it. Insulation and bottom ventilation stay on all year- aiming for stability. (We live in a wet climate, year around, right now i can't see 3 metres out the back for the fog, but don't get as cold as you, we get down to freezing often but not too far beyond) So I figured, for me, that the bottom only brings a very small inflow in constant trickle of O2, and I never top ventilate (except as above). The hot mass that is the bees on combs maintains it's own humidity- the warmth generated will I imagine, create a self maintaining homeostasis. When you look at bee behaviour, when it's put under the microscope, every aspect of their behaviour, habitat design & physiological adaption are adapted for their needs. Tom Seeley has done some great research here. I would imagine that the mechanism for maintaining hive humidity, as a function of the circular economy that is bees, comb &.c, would be no exception and that too little ventilation, within reason, is rarely the biggest issue in hive management. Think of the tree...:p

I f I have the cash this summer, I have plans to set up 4 diff hives with CO2, humidity and temps sensors, about 9 per hive to see if I can get some data to blow my theories out of the water.. I better get moving its spring here.

Anyhoos keep sharing its good to hear what works or doesn't for others. If it's not broke, don't fix it

Oh yes and I heard which i plan to look into and if noone has researched it by the time I do my thesis I'll do it, that higher CO2 helps bees manage varroa.

I mean consider that pic, no bees shaken off- as it would be in hive. Two boxes of 16 frames like that tell me that's not hot humid and high CO2. Winter cluster is 12-14 frames.



My last thought, and i quote Winnie the Pooh for this one " with bees, you never can tell"
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
That is an awesome insight on how you manage your bees and why. I am moved by your thoughts on this subject of housing bees. I am so tempted to just take one of my hives and do exactly the same thing as I have read into other's thoughts as well, that they keep bees as close to their natural living conditions as they would survive in a tree. Which to say is, bottom entrance only and no top entrance or ventilation. In fact, this is method that Frederic Dunn follows with his hives. He has a you tube channel. He lives in N.W Pennsylvania, which is not to awful far from where I live so the climate conditions are pretty close with the usual Spring, Summer, Fall and with Winters that can go from mild to wild in a moment. Some guys live in Texas where it is nice all the time. ;)
 
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