Questions on a first opening of a new hive

Discussion in 'Beekeeping' started by Ed K, May 23, 2005.

  1. Ed K

    Ed K Well-Known Member

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    I just recieved two 4 frame nucs and opened them up for the first look this weekend (approx 1-1/2 weeks after installing) I noticed some things that seem odd but I don't know

    1) One side of the frame to the right of the 4 nuc frames is completely full of uncapped honey. It looks like the cells are not fully drawn out though

    Q1: Is it normal for bees to fill cells that aren't fully drawn out?

    Q2: Will they finish drawing them out later while the honey is inside?

    Q3: I would have guessed that they would have tried fill the new comb with some eggs? Is it normal/ healthy for them to store so much honey so soon

    2) I have screened bottom boards so the other evening I looked up under the hive to see what I could see. I was surprised to see a cluster of bees under the hive (about a 3-5" diameter group of them in a single layer)

    Q4: Is that normal? What were they doing?

    3) I have a hive top feeder which it appears the bees are making some attachments to the frames.

    Q5: Is it OK to give the feeder a little twist as I raise it to loosen the connection to the frames?

    Q6: Where do you put bur comb and honey that you scrape off with the hive tool. I'm assuming on the ground nearby is not good?

    I'm noticing that there's a lot going on that book-reading hasn't prepared me for.
    I got a little frustrated by my first efforts

    Thanks


    Ed
     
  2. bare

    bare Head Muderator

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    You can probably relax Ed. The only real concern at the moment will be to make certain that there are eggs, indicating that your queen is healthy and doing her job.

    As for the rest, honey in not fully drawn frames is a bit unusual, but bees are adept at homemaking and can move the stuff around. Might just be temporary storage while they get things in order.

    The bees clustered on your bottom board near the entrance are helping to ventilate the hive, either because the hive is too warm, not getting enough air flow.

    Yes, you can disconnect your top feeder, it sounds like you have some real active and strong hives and they don't know what to do with all the propolis.

    I never worried too much about hive scrapings, but it was always just wax. If you are scraping honey off too, you'll want to collect it in a coffee can or something, so that you don't encourage honey theft.
     

  3. Ed K

    Ed K Well-Known Member

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    Bare,

    Thanks.

    One thing I didn't explain well enough was that I built some stands for the hives that are about 18" off the ground. I'm therefore able to look at the underside of the screened bottom board up into the hive body. It was on the bottom side of the screen that I saw the bees not at the entrance area of the hive on the top side of the screen.

    Hope that explanation is more clear. Does that change your opinion of what they were doing under there?

    Thanks

    Ed
     
  4. bare

    bare Head Muderator

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    Nope, not really.

    You can probably tell more by watching them. If the are ventilating, you'll see a lot of wing activity.

    I've never really understood outside clusters. Sometimes I'll have a hive with a lot of bees hanging from the front of the hive. It's always made me suspicious enough to investigate further, thinking they were about to swarm, or there was an internal problem in the hive. It's never amounted to anything though and they go back in.

    I've never used a screened bottom board, just used screening on my solid board to reduce or block the entrance. I'm sure a more experienced person will soon be along to answer your questions.
     
  5. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Did you see the queen, or any sign of brood?

    And, yes, the bees will start using the little wax cups before they are finished.
     
  6. Elizabeth

    Elizabeth Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Ed, the bees will use partially drawn comb to store honey, and the queen will also sometimes lay eggs in them too. The bees will finish drawing them out later- they are probably so busy bringing in nectar and pollen that they haven't had time yet to finish drawing comb.

    What kind of foundation are you using? If it is plastic, the bees will definitely be slower to draw it out- they don't really like it. I just started using ritecell and put a bunch of it in some new deep hive bodies last week. I checked this morning and some of them have started it, some haven't, but in a couple of hives the bees had started burr comb and the queens came along and laid eggs in it! The bees know what to do- you probably just have a smallish population if you started hives from nucs and they can't keep up just yet.

    What is in the frames that came with your nucs? It may be that the queen is still laying in those frames if there were empty cells in them, which is likely- her laying may have been interupted during the time that the nucs were being transported to you and getting installed in the new hives. Check the old frames for eggs/brood.

    Not sure what your bees were doing under the screened bottom, but Bare is probably correct that they were fanning for ventilation. Or, maybe they just wanted to hang out there. I would not worry unless you see queen cells inside the hive- at this point I doubt that swarming is a concern.

    On your feeder- you can twist it a bit to break the seal. If you can manage it scrape off all the propolis/burr comb from the top of the box below it and the bottom of the feeder.

    I usually toss burr comb into an empty hive top feeder, if the comb has honey in it- the bees will eventually clean all the honey out. Then I toss any dry comb into my solar wax melter. I definitely do not leave it laying around the bee yard. If you are using hive top feeders now, you could use 1/2 of the feeder (assuming it is divided into 2 trays) for feed and 1/2 for burr comb. You might have to refill your feeder a little more often. Or, put the burr comb in a freezer bag and freeze it till you are through feeding, then put it in your HT feeder. If you don't have a solar wax melter just keep the comb in the freezer till you extract honey and melt it with you cappings.

    Don't get too frustrated. Remember, the bees don't read the books. Just have fun!
     
  7. Ed K

    Ed K Well-Known Member

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