Starting over - need advice

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by bwwertz, Feb 23, 2013.

  1. bwwertz

    bwwertz New Member

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    Well, I've lost 6 out of my seven hives. I had a feeling I'd lose at least two due to late splits, but not SIX!
    Now I'd really like everyone to weigh in on what's worked best for them. As a reminder, I'm in eastern/coastal NC. I have LOTS of drawn comb, plenty of equipment and will have at least two packages delivered by the end of March. Last check on my four strongest hives in late fall/early winter, they had plenty of food, but there were a lot of small hive beetles. All hives were completely empty except for one - which looked like a very small number of bees simply died right in their cluster. =( So sad. But I am super thankful I have one hive left.

    So....to snart anew....
    my local beek suggested I clean up all the frames, hive, equipment, etc. freeze all frames for at least 48 hours and then put them in a black plastic bag sealed up tightly. Well, I did have problems with frames I stored in the house in white plastic bags and wax moths still got in. Right now they're still in the the freezer and I'm completely out of room to store about 50+ more. =(

    What are everyone's thoughts on how to start over again?
    1. Full sun for the hives or part shade? (I heard full sun keeps the shb at bay more. Plus I would feel a lot more secure in their wintering in full sun.)
    2. Store frames inside in plastic bags?
    3. Treat the frames with anything for preventive measures?
    4. Solid bottom boards? (I have a mixture of both)
    5. I like running 9 frames - should I start off that way since all the frames are drawn comb?



    I think that's all the questions I have for now. Missed you all!
    Looking forward to everyone's input!
     
  2. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    First, I'm sorry this has been a bad winter for you. (eventually, we all have them). :|

    #1 - Yes, full sun. We do not have SHB here (yet) but from everything I have read = full sun.
    #2 - If you can get some BT (do a search here), mix up a batch and spray your comb with it and you'll have no problems.
    #3 - Same as above, or freeze comb for 48 hours and then tightly seal them in plastic bags.
    #4 - I would assume SHB can gain easier access to a hive through screened bottom boards??? I have both but only use solids now.
    #5 - I only run 10 so I have no experience one way or the other.
     

  3. Noronajo

    Noronajo New Member

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    I've read that screened bottom boards help prevent buildup of debris that attracts SHB and wax moth but but the screen's fine enough I don't know if that's true or not.
     
  4. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    so bwwertz (sometime things do get very mentally blurred for me) how long have been keeping bees?

    and before I attack your 5 question I would FIRST suggest you look over your shoulder and ask yourself and answer yourself in the most truthful fashion 'why did each of those hives 6 hives die and is there any connection'. there can be singular reason or multiple reasons. really doesn't matter but at least for me thinking about that helps me in going forward. I suspect your list is something of a reflection on that mode of thinking.

    #1 I would say generally anywhere that you do not have constant shade and large amounts of litter on the ground. Here as I move from hive to hives from full sunshine to brush you can easily witness the increase in the number of small hive beetles in the hive. <me looking backward: perhaps employ some beetle traps on the hives that I do have in the brush.
    #2 & 3 Definitely BT. I am not certain who came up with the idea of putting frames in plastic bag? For some reason it sound like the work of someone selling frames and foundation.
    #4 I have also witnessed this myself. I don't really use screened bottom board but I have made up nucs and full hives with screened bottom board for other folks and on several occasion realized this could be an issue. I would guess the size of the screen could play something of a role in how well screened bottom boards may work once the small hive beetle arrived. I also tend to think in some locations (cold wet and/or damp) that a screen bottom board could be (if you think about ventilation just a wee bit) a lethal idea for honeybees.
    #5 once drawn you should be able to start with 9 frames. and consider this.... as you make up the new packages 'pinch' the 9 frames together. as the package grows open up the frames as they slowly begin filling the first box. by early summer the 9 frames should be equally spaced across the box (the top bars are now parallel to the sides of the box). NOW... come the fall of the year pinch the 9 frames together <I in my typical brute fashion simply crow bar the two opposite end of the frames toward opposite corners... the top bars are now NOT parallel to the sides and the 'empty space' now looks like triangle wedges along each the sides of the box. <the real larger concept here is you are maximizing and minimize certain internal space measurement and what works well in one season doesn't work so well in the opposite season.
     
  5. lazy shooter

    lazy shooter New Member

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    Is the BT all of you are referring to "the common worm and moth killer." If so, do you spray it directly on your comb? I believe it is Bacillus thuringiensis.
     
  6. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    the BT comes in several forms and Sundance (who only seems to show if you directly forward him a email) is pretty much the authority and source for this product. each form of BT will only affect certain larvae forms and you do need to make certain that the BT you are using is right for the wax moth and yes you do spray in directly on the comb. this product was NEVER approved for use in the US but was in Canada and was marketed under the trade name Certan (sp???). studies long ago (reported in the ABJ) suggested that BT is not 100%* like parabichlorobenzene or one of the other products used for wax moth control over the short run (every other month or so) you do need to retreat with the parabichlorobenzene and I am uncertain about the BT but certainly Sundance could lend some knowledge about this factor also.

    *from what I can recall of the article you might 'expect' to see some minor damage but not so much that the comb was not still pretty much usable.
     
  7. bwwertz

    bwwertz New Member

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    Thanks already for all the input! Tec, I've been beekeeping for 3 or 4 years now - learned from my Dad. I haven't been on here in a while, but you may remember my Dad and I - he's the one who told me about your "name." =)

    I'm pretty sure two of the hives died because they were a very late split and they didn't have enough food to get through the winter. I'm not quite sure why the other four died. They were all running solid bottom boards, but they were all mostly shaded (last year Dad and I had moved them into the sun). They all had plenty of food, but did have shb. My Dad built an AMAZING hive stand for us in our backyard and there is no debris under the hives. The two hives in my backyard had bees as recently as three weeks ago! I haven't been through the hives yet to start getting everything "back to working order."

    I've been reading up on BT since Perry's post. A lot of people have said their girls won't touch the BT sprayed frames. Has anyone else experienced this? I have a gazillion people asking for honey, but I do this because the girls fascinate me and I love learning from them. I'd like to have honey if only to provide funds for more "bee stuff," but not my #1 goal.

    Dad and I spoke tonight. We're definitely going to move his awesome hive stand into the full sun. If I do get BT to treat the frames - the frames are in all "states." Some empty, some with pollen, many mediums still full of honey. Would it still be ok to extract that honey if and when the time comes?

    Is is reasonable to think that we could have honey by July/August-ish if we get the packages March 23rd?
     
  8. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    thanks for the reply and for stimulating my memory..

    with packages I always suggest that only in a very banner year might you expect to remove a bit of surplus honey. however with the one existing hive (where you have the option of boosting brood of the packages at critical times) and with the comb (not foundation) you MIGHT expect to get just a bit of honey in year one.

    as to extracting existing honey I would not but would primarily use this to encourage the packages you plan to purchase. basically HERE it is not so much that you couldn't do this but as a general rule the late season nectar here is really not worth consuming (often taste bad <as I suggest to folks here stick your finger in it before you do).

    I have heard folks suggest this about BT... I do not KNOW if this hold or not but I could toss out some other variable that might make this appear to be so when it is not. I cannot recall anyone suggest this as a limitation when the product was sold as Certan. No matter what I might use for wax moth control airing frames out a good ways ahead of time with full exposure to sunshine I SUSPECT limits these kinds of problems.
     
  9. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I have used BT and will continue to do so. No problem with the bees taking to the comb, very minimal wax moth damage to sprayed comb. And wax moths got into my wax "cookie can" in the house and laid eggs in unsprayed comb this winter, they barely go away here.

    Comb that is occupied by bees hasn't been sprayed, right now the bees are patrolling all but the one frame of comb that is in my fridge waiting to get sprayed.

    I got mine from Sundance.
     
  10. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Apologies for not responding to all your issues, My answer to some of the questions is "I don't know". But you won't get off completely free from my opinions----
    I never had problems with bees using BT sprayed frames. They take to them with total naturalness.
    As to working on 9 combs per box, I would say stick to ten in the brood boxes and save using nines for honey supers. A good queen will do you better when she has ten frames to work through but nine built frames, evenly spaced out in a honey super are more economical when it comes to hive management and honey extraction.
    Think of this year as an opportunity to go "swarm hunting" :hunter::grin:
     
  11. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    ef, i run 9 frames in my deeps, and 8 frames in my supers....:roll: :grin:

    bwwertz, lots of good advice, so i won't blabber on, i don't have to deal with shb, and i have not used bt, so can't comment on it. i use solid bottom boards. when i have dead-outs, the hive is closed up, (it's usually freezing here). i wait for a semi decent day, shake the dead bees off the frames and store hive bodies with the frames in an out building. i have sheets of plywood cut to fit, and i slide these between the boxes, and place on bottom and top, sort of a cover to keep unwanted bugs and mice out. even sheets of newspaper work....but it's cold here in the winter months. my hives have shade during the hottest part of the day during summer months, (this sometimes works against me in the winter months), but again, i don't have shb, just bears and other critters. also, some beeks store their frames in big plastic tubs in a cool area.