We handled our very first bees today.

Discussion in 'Beekeeping' started by oakhillfarm, Apr 29, 2005.

  1. oakhillfarm

    oakhillfarm Member

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    It was great! Well, maybe not so great for the bees. And my husband got stung. But I had a great time! LOL

    Hives were all set up - dry place, but near water, electric fencing, hives facing the morning sun but getting late afternoon shade, close enough to the house for observation with binoculars but far enough not to be disturbed by kids or pets or livestock - pant legs inside the socks, hoods on, gloves on, hive tools in the pockets - a couple of nails for pricking the sugar plugs - quarts of sugar water - we were all SET, right?

    We opened the first package - lifted the can and the queen slipped out of my grasp and fell down into the package. NOW WHAT?! Well, there was nothing to do but dump them all into the hive, which we did, then reach down into the swarm and retrieve the queen chamber. Boy, were they ticked off at this point! Anyway, sugar plug pricked, queen installed, really confused and angry bees flying everywhere! We were practically covered with bees. We walked away to give them some space for a while, but then we needed to something with the second package before it started raining again!

    Second package went really well. Didn't droop the queen - no bees escaped when we took her out thanks to my slide-that-bit-of-wood-back-over-the-hole-really-fast trick. Hung her up in the super and dumped all the other kids in - feeders in, lid on, no fuss no muss. One of the confused and angry bees flying around from the first package got under Tim's hood and got him right on the adam's apple, but he was fine and it was no big deal.

    So, we went down a few hours later to take a look - see how they were settling in and guess what... while Tim was trying to get the bee out his bonnet I put one of the hive tops on backwards so the bees are coming and going out of the back of the hive instead of the front! Oh well, at least they are the calm and happy bees who couldn't care less. I'll fix it eventually.

    Any advice at this point? We're reading like crazy, and have a couple of old bee-guys around here we've talked to briefly, but we are novices for sure.

    I know it's considered a no-no by some folks to buy used equipment, but I think I might be able to get a really nice, old extractor for next to nothing - I don't think I can afford to say no - unfortunately I haven't seen it yet and can't give you model/maker info - it's a friend of a friend and it looks promising. How best to clean/sterilize it - is hot water and bleach enough? Are there parts I should definitely replace immediately?

    Thanks and happy beekeeping, Liz.
     
  2. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    I haven't heard of anyone saying no to a used extractor. Some people are against used woodenware, combs, and frames because the wood, and especially the wax, can harbor all sorts of diseases. It sounds like you did a good job though with hiving the packages! One bit of advice: spray the bees heavily through the screen with sugar syrup so they CAN'T FLY!!! This way, when you dump them into the hive, they have nowhere to go but down, and by the time they are all cleaned up, you are done, relieved, and watching from a short distance as they start to explore the entrance of their new home!

    justgojumpit
     

  3. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    The hive entrance should be reduced and at first blocked with grass so the bees have to work to get out and settle in a little longer before flying out. It reduces the chance of them all packing up and leaving. the reducer gives them less opening to defend in case others try to come and steal their sugar water.
    You mentioned placing the queen in the super. You should only have a hive body for them at this time, possibly this is what you meant.
     
  4. Queen Bee

    Queen Bee Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Each time you handle them you'll get better! It is such a wonderful hobby and if you are anything like most new /old beekeepers you'll start watching them come and go...you see them with pollen on the legs, you'll see them 'gaurding' the entance and polishing it... It is so much fun.. My dh is not crazy about the bees and they do not like him. I have a hive that I can manage with no veil, suit or gloves except when he is a long---they go after him in a split second.. HE even had one sting him when he just stepped out of the truck about 20ft. from the hives. I tell him that he reminds them of a bear (He is 6'6" and over 300 lbs...)

    Good luck and let us know how things are going...
     
  5. Philbee

    Philbee Well-Known Member

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    I have been very fortunate with my adventure of beekeeping. I purchased used equiupment from a long time friend including a "Dadant" honey extractor. The extractor is made of a good grade Stainless Steel so there is no worry about being able to clean it properly. Fortunately my neighbor was starting to do bees the same time I was starting and we both joined the local Beekeepers Club where we took a class "Master Beekeepers Certification Program". We also have a very good mentor who is very energetic, enthusiastic and knowledgable and who has helped us tremendously. Our mentour has definately been our greatest source of information and has helped us with hand on work in the beehives. I also use a good book "Beekeeping for Dummies" that has lots of actual photos and good explanations on beekeeping. I hope that you have a good time with your beekeeping and enjoy it as much as we do. It is a real treat to see your first batch of honey come out of your honey extractor.

    Best wishes, ---- Phil
     
  6. connie in WV

    connie in WV Site Admin's Boss

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    I handled my first bees today too. Things didn't go so well. Like you my queen dropped into the swarming mess. I sent DD into the house to fetch tongs to fish her out. Once she was out I discovered she was dead.

    Went ahead with the installation. Bees everywhere. Hubby got stung standing 15 ft. away. The smoker kept going out. I couldn't get a big chunk of bees out of the crate. I finally left that on the ground by the hive.

    Bees were committing suicide into the sugar water before I could get the cover on. Good grief! Maybe some of this is normal, but I was a bit discouraged. I'm going to let them settle down a bit and check on them later.

    I'll call tomorrow for a new queen.
     
  7. oakhillfarm

    oakhillfarm Member

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    Day 3 of our new hives. (Sunday)

    We went down to inspect the hives and exchange their syrup jars.

    We are using an empty deep-super as a feed chamber on top of the inside cover (two quart mason jars set up on two strips of wood to raise them off the cover).

    We did not use the smoker at all during the installation process - we assumed that since they had no honey to "gorge" upon, there wasn't much point. but this time we did - although I have to say, I'm not sure it made much difference. The bees that were outside, stayed outside, and the bees that were inside would move down if a puff of smoke was right on them, but would then come right back up. In any event, none of them seemed very disturbed by our being there and we tried to be quiet and fluid in our movements.

    The "confused and angry" bees of our first installation attempt were very busy in and around the hive. Their queen and her attendant had not gotten out of their chamber however, so we poked out the sugar (and a little cork that had not come out the first time) and released them into the hive. No fuss, no muss. We exchanged their 2 half-empty quart jars of 1-to-1 syrup with full ones and closed it all back up.

    The "calm and happy" bees - the one that I put the inner cover on backwards - were not as active but since I flubbed the exit hole for them we figured we'd reassess in another few days after fixing it. The queen (who had no attendants in the first place) was out of her chamber and (I assume) happy at work in the hive since most of the bees were in one concentrated area. We changed out their food as well and called it a day.

    We plan to go down again on Wednesday and perhaps do our first inspection of the frames themselves. DH supposedly knows what we're supposed to be looking for - I'll have to read up a little more.

    So far, I'm a happy beekeeper.

    Any thoughts on when to introduce the check-mite strips?

    - Liz.
     
  8. oakhillfarm

    oakhillfarm Member

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    Day 6 - went down early morning to replace the jars of syrup - still 1-to-1 ratio. The jars were completely empty! Wow. Bees didn't bother us a bit - all were trying to get the last bit of liquid out of the jars and were happy to see new.

    I really wanted to "open 'er up" and take a look at what I hope is established brood but didn't - next time. DH said something about having to possibly remove some undesirable comb next time too, where the queen chambers were originally hung. Seems a shame that any comb is undesireable. Any advice on how to go about that?

    We should be getting another two packages of bees here shortly - better get those hives painted!
     
  9. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

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    Oakhillfarm,

    To get rid of undesired comb we just scrape it off with a hive tool. You'll find that a lot of the queen cells are on the bottoms of the frames. Just stand the frame on end and run the comb tool down it. You will also find some comb (generally not complete cells) on top of the frame bars or on the inner sides of the boxes. We scrape into a large plastic tray so that we can save the wax.

    Hope this helps.

    Mike
     
  10. alleyyooper

    alleyyooper keeper of the bees Staff Member Supporter

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    :) I got a older beekeeping book, the ABC and XYZ of beekeeping by A I Root. It is the best complete book on beekeeping I have found by far. Since I only installed one new package of bees this year I used a method from that book. Spray syrup on the bees thru the screen shake them to the bottom and spray again. Open the cover remove the feed device (I see some ore useing paper cups now) and queen cage. Drip some water in the queen cage for her & attendance to drink. Set the frames in the hive (a deep if your young and strong, a medium if your saving your back) Install the queen between the frames. With the cover still in place turn the cage over on top of the frames and slide the cover out. Place a hive body around the cage and cover. I came back four hours latter to find the cage empty except for one lone dead bee. I didn't have any bees flying around with hate and discontent doing it this way.
    I know this wouldn't work for some one doing a lot of packages and needing to come back to remove the cages but it sure is a good way for a hobbiest with just a few packages toi install.
    Ask 8 beekeppers the best way to do some thing and get no less than 32 answers.
    :D Al
     
  11. connie in WV

    connie in WV Site Admin's Boss

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    Finally got my new queen today. Installed her and had a much better time of it. Maybe I can do this. I hope that not too many bees have died. I did peek into the hive for a few minutes and there seemed to be a huge amount of bees busy in there. I had to replace their sugar water. They were crawling all over the queen cage when I closed it up. So I breathed a sigh of relief and will peek at them again in a few days before we leave for vacation.