Some questions

Discussion in 'Beekeeping' started by BobBoyce, Nov 8, 2004.

  1. BobBoyce

    BobBoyce Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    313
    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2004
    Location:
    SE TN/SW NC
    Hello all.

    I had wanted to get into beekeeping for the longest time. A few years ago, I bought all new equiptment, assembled and painted the hive bodies, assembled the frames and loaded them with foundation, ect. I bought and read a load of books, as well as reading all I could find online. I finally felt I was ready to give it a try.

    I bought 2 sets of established frames for my nucs from an elderly beekeeper that lives a couple of hours drive north of me.

    The first thing I noticed when transferring the frames to the hive bodies, there was no queen in one set. The beekeeper ordered a new queen and had it sent to me.

    I was told to put the frames into the hive bodies and leave them alone for 2 weeks. I only opened the hive to set the queen cage in, and to remove it a few days later, after the queen was released. When I opened the hive 2 weeks later to inspect, I noticed wax moth larva all over the foundation in the new frames, eating the wax. Since I had started out with new equiptment, the only old equiptment introduced was the established nuc frames. Later, when I mentioned it to his helper, I was told that he had a big problem with wax moths.

    By then, that hive was just so weak, there was little I could do to salvage it. I didn't want to get my other hive infested, so I moved them far apart from one another. Once the weak colony died out, I tossed the frames to my chickens and let them have a go at the larva.

    The other hive did very well. I had to add another hive body for brood and honey, then a super, which was filled rapidly. I did not harvest any honey going into winter, wanted to make sure the bees had plenty to carry them through it. I took the advice of others and wrapped the hive in blankets, only leaving the entrance open. Even with that, the colony still froze during a long hard freeze. The hive was still loaded with honey, which I allowed to get robbed when the weather warmed up.

    I wanted to start out again next year, should I be able to use my existing hive bodies and frames, without worry of the wax moths taking over again? Or should I just burn it all and start over new again?

    What are the best options for starting new colonies to minimize the risk of disease or parasites? I still have an unused dual nuc stored in the closet, full of new frames with foundation. For those not familiar, a dual nuc is the size of a full hive body with a thin divider in the middle, and 2 entrances, one for each side.

    We live in the mountains, and winters can get brutal sometimes. Should I consider setting up the hives inside of a small outbuilding, with entrance tubes for the bees? If I did, I could run a small space heater to keep it from getting too cold in the winter.

    I noticed mention of getting stung. The time I had my bees, I was never stung. I don't have a bee suit, but I do have a hat w/veil, and gloves. I rarely used them unless I was going to be pulling and inspecting a lot of frames. I bought a smoker, tried it once, but it seemed like it just wasn't needed. I always handled the bees gently, making sure not to jostle the hives or frames, and taking extra care not to hurt or kill any bees. The elderly beekeeper was very rough with his bees, squashing them when he handled the hives and frames. They would get all worked up, swarming all around him, trying to sting him through his suit.

    Bob
     
  2. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    Messages:
    14,843
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    Kansas
    Bob, I suspect that varroa mites got your bees. Mites build up gradually during the summer, and when the queens quit laying in the winter the smaller number of bees cannot handle the mite load.

    There ARE treatments for mites, but some of the mites are getting resistant, so even if you treat you might lose a hive. :( I am told that beekeepers in my area lose 1-2 hives out of every ten in the winter, from a variety of causes.

    I have ALSO been told that if a hive starves during the winter, that the bees will all be inside the empty honey cells, facing into the cells. If your bees were not in this position, I would suspect that the culprit was mites. If they WERE in this position, then it was too cold for them to move to where the honey was.

    I am getting ready to winter over my first hives this fall. I have set up a windbreak, treated for mites, and I am doing some last-minute feedings to top off the hives.
     

  3. BobBoyce

    BobBoyce Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    313
    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2004
    Location:
    SE TN/SW NC
    Thank you Terri for the response. Yes, the bees were dead headfirst in empty cells in the core of the hive. The frames on both sides of the core were loaded with honey, but I guess it was just too darned cold for them to get to it.

    Bob
     
  4. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    Messages:
    14,843
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    Kansas
    Gee, that's rough. :(

    I think that I will pack bags of leaves around my hives as well.
     
  5. rainesridgefarm

    rainesridgefarm Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    79
    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2002
    Location:
    Davis IL
    Did you have a upper entrance in your hives to let the condensation out? Most times bees do not freeze to death. What happens is we seal up the hive by covering it and moisture can not escape. It then condenses on the ceiling and drips down on the cluster chilling them till there is none left but a few trying to eat and stay alive.
     
  6. BobBoyce

    BobBoyce Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    313
    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2004
    Location:
    SE TN/SW NC
    Well it wasn't an entrance. I had a ventilated top cover, but had it covered by the blankets. I'm sure some air could escape however. I had a tarp laying loosely over the hive, pinned down to the ground at the corners, to keep the blankets dry.

    Bob
     
  7. MullersLaneFarm

    MullersLaneFarm Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    10,220
    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2004
    Location:
    NW-IL Fiber Enabler
    I have to agree with rainesridgefarm about condensation in the hives. It sounded as if the hive froze out.

    We live in NW IL and I don't wrap my hives. They have a good solid wind break in form of a building to their west and the apiary yard is surrounded by cattle fencing.

    Wind and moisture are your biggest killers of any livestock and bees are no exception.

    I'm going into my 3rd winter with the hives. I've only lost one through the winter and they starved out on me. My fault - I split the hive too late and didn't leave enough stores for them.