Wait, you want to PAY me to play with bees?

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by heinleinfan, May 15, 2012.

  1. heinleinfan

    heinleinfan New Member

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    Right, so, due to completely unexpected networking, I've got myself a "job" setting up a small beeyard for someone. DUDE, HOW COOL IS THAT?

    This man had 4 hives installed a few years ago by someone who was "going to take care of them" for him, and then split the honey. Well, that beek apparently just fell off the planet, so this guy wound up with 4 hives and no real time or inclination to manage them. Then they got attacked by bears at some point.
    One hive survived all this time feral, and the population in it looks healthy, strong and they are very docile. I also just installed a fresh package into one of the empty hives on Sunday. I'm going to help care for these 2 hives this year (getting paid each trip out) while getting the remaining empties and one new empty set up and ready for bees next season. I'm also going to be instructing this man on how to manage hives; he wants to pay someone to come once a month or so for management, but be able to fill in the gaps himself and eventually care for them himself and harvest the honey and all that. And, he IS building an electric bear fence. The area is set up and posts installed, and he'll have that finished in the next month, well before the fall when the bears start to come out of the mountains and fill up on man-food before winter.

    I was wondering if you all had some tips to share on some of my more worrisome aspects:

    -the one remaining active hive is unmanageable right now, due to all the burr comb and propolis and bad spacing. (After installation, the queen cages were never removed, so there are only 9 frames in the bottom box, with a huge gap in the middle of them.) It took me 10 minutes of prying with my hive tool to get one frame loose, and I eventually just pryed the top bar off it and pulled the foundation out, the sides and bottom bar were still cemented in there. It was installed with plastic foundations, so that's a plus...but I can't spend 10 minutes per frame and wind up destroying them all, this is an active hive. Any suggestions?

    -something got into the empty hives and I've got hives full of nasty dirty drawn comb. BUT, there's a lot of drawn comb, whatever got in them did *not* destroy all the wax. (Well, a mouse got into one, that nest is obvious, and that hive has a lot of munched wax.) I searched for pics of both wax moth infestations and SHB and the pics I'm seeing online do not look like what I'm seeing in these hives. So I really have no idea what it is. Any thoughts of what other things will infest an empty hive? I do know it was after the bees were lost to bears, so whatever it was did not take out the bees. How can I go about cleaning up this equipment? Do I have to strip everything down to foundation or can I leave some of the comb for new installs next year? Do I need...bleach or some cleaner or just some air and sunshine...I've just never worked with old equipment before.

    (I did the best I could at cleaning out one of the empty boxes, pulled the cleanest frames I could find from the other hives and found quite a few that were pristine, no dirt or damage to the wax at all, and some that were still just foundation with very little drawn comb. I had the package available on Sunday and it was that or nothing, so had to get them into something; if I do need to strip and clean, recommendations for getting this colony moved to a clean hive?)

    -I'm going to prep a contract to share with the guy, and have us both sign, saying what I'll do and how much I'll get paid for it and have in the disclaimer that hey, nature just sucks and hives can be lost and that the used equipment might cause failure. Has anyone ever done this sort of thing, getting paid to setup and manage a small yard and if so, any tips on some wording, things to include in a contract, etc?

    Any other tips or suggestions at all? Thanks!

    WEEEEE, I'm so excited!
     
  2. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    I chose your easiest question first, but my answer isn't a certainty.
    Any thoughts of what other things will infest an empty hive? Lizzards like to move into hives but I don't know if you've got them around your neighborhood. Maybe snakes?
    Now the tough questions. You can try to live with the burr comb and the messed up frames, but it is guaranteed that you will in the long run spend (actually, waste) much more time on them than you would by starting from scratch. It'll be an investment of time the first time around, but save you time from then on.

    You have to move all the bees from the messed up box into a new one. Remove all the frames, shake all the bees (including the queen) into a new brood box with frames for building. Lay the combs with
    brood above an excluder or an inner cover (with a hole) as best as you can, without their frames. With the queen and new frames down below, she'll start laying there. If a honey flow is in process, you can do this without feeding, but if not, give them syrup so a to be sure they build down below for the queen to get to work there.
    The brood above the divider will hatch out and move down. After it is all hatched out, remove those combs and add new frames for building in their stead, as needed by the hive.
    You've got a nice challenge ahead of you, but with your enthusiasm, it should work out.
    As to contracts and "legal advice", sorry, I can't help you. That's totally out of my field.

     

  3. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Another option may be to just place good empty boxes with new frames, etc. right on top of this messed up hive and then just give them time to move up into it. Once they are up into the newer equipment you can remove and have at the old stuff.
    Like Efmesch says, you have a challenge ahead of you but your enthusiasm leads me to believe you are well up to it. :thumbsup:
     
  4. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    I like Perry's suggestion. It's straightforward and simple. :thumbsup: However, I have two minor reservations about it:
    1. It would probably take a longer time to complete the move.
    2. Considering the limited frequency of your visits to the hive, you might find it difficult to deal with unexpected developments (something always to be prepared for). :think:
     
  5. bamabww

    bamabww New Member

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    I had a similar situation where I had a hive full of drawn comb but very dirty from sitting in a barn uncovered. It had SHB and wax moth damage. A local beekeeper told me to put the dirty frames in a garbage bag, seal it up and place them in a freezer for a couple of weeks at least or until I needed them. He said then to remove them, use a bee brush and remove the majority of the dirt by brushing and install them in a hive and let the bees do the other cleaning they feel like is necessary. Freezing the frames / foundation kills the pests that may still be present.

    I did as he instructed and have since used all those frames / foundation in a hive without any problems. I enjoyed watching the bees clean out what I didn't. Each morning I could see "dirt" and stuff I recognized from being in the foundation moved to the edge of the bottom board.
     
  6. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    a snip..
    something got into the empty hives and I've got hives full of nasty dirty drawn comb. BUT, there's a lot of drawn comb, whatever got in them did *not* destroy all the wax.

    tecumseh:
    sounds like comb that has been used for brood rearing in prior seasons or prior years to me. if it came directly from the hive I would use this and fairly quickly... if it came from outside the hives I would likely freeze the frames for 48 hours prior to using them.... and then toss them into the hive. if you are trying to get foundation drawn intermixing foundation with drawn comb in the box get stuff drawn fairly quickly.

    ps... a lot of very damaged comb can be repaired by 'the girls' quite readily when the season and the flow are on. most new beekeeper would be amazed at how much damage an active and populated hive can repair if they need the space. this kind of advice is not so good for folks like Dadant or Kelleys.
     
  7. indypartridge

    indypartridge New Member

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    I've got a friend, Jeff, who does this as a business:
    http://www.beefriendlybeekeeper.com/
    You can call or email him (contact info on website) and I'm sure he'll be happy to share some tips & suggestions.
     
  8. heinleinfan

    heinleinfan New Member

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    indypartridge - thank you for the reference, I'll email Jeff the Friendly keeper today!

    tec - Yes, there is a lot of brood comb, nice and dark, and I don't typically call that dirty. This dirty comb has dust and debris in it, and whatever got in there had larvae, and there are dead larvae in places still, and just a few dead bees in places. I know the ladies recycle their wax and can rebuild/repair a frame in no time flat, so I would like to keep as much of the comb for them as I can. Thanks for the time frame on freezing; I'm guessing I can leave frames in there as long as needed, but nice to know that 48 hours will do it, that way I can get the frames I need for the 2 existing hives ready to go quicker.

    Wayne - thanks for the reassurance about old gear, and note about putting the frames in a bag for freezing; I had not considered that but, duh, that'll keep the freezer from getting all messy.

    Perry and Ef - Thanks, this is great stuff to work with, and once I get the empty boxes all cleaned and freeze the frames and such, I'll have extra equipment to work with. I think I've got a plan now, combining your two ideas. Sweet!


    Thank you all, gentlemen, so much!

    And thanks for the encouraging words...I'm nothing if not enthusiastic, heh.