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Robin

NZBF queries about setting up hives

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HI, I've kept bees before but not recently and I now know that I previously had lots of gaps in knowledge. I'm planning to set up this winter but have some questions:

  • I previously found the full supers too heavy for the 2 of us to lift easily so would like to get half depth or 5 frames. I only want enough honey for a small household so I thought this might be adequate. I've had advice though that it's better to get 8 frames as 5 frames are hardly worth the trouble. What do you think? Would I be better with fewer frames or lesser depth? I know I'll not have standard accessories available for non-standard sizes so don't want to limit myself.
  • Are painted non-treated supers as good as the Tan E or Thermowood that Ceracell sell? 
  • For my small operation do you think I should get a bee blower or will bee escapes and smoking be enough?
  • WE've all gone a bit anti-plastic so I thought I'd give wood frames with wire a go. A bit nervous about the change as I previously found the plastic frames easy to deal with

I want the hobby to be as enjoyable and trouble-free as possible so any advice welcomed.

 

Robin

West Auckland

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You haven't mentioned what size boxes you've had in past. I'd go for standard Langstroth 10 frame  3/4 depth.  There's no need to lift full boxes, just move frames around as needed ,   I run 2 or 3 hives , end up with more honey than I need,  don't use blower or escapes. I swipe frames clear of bees at harvest time with a hearth brush.  I have never used treated timber boxes,  have a few plastic frames but don't like them much.

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Hi Robin - I think it's always a good idea to find a good club and join.  They generally have experienced hands, willing to give advice, and you can often find someone at the same level as you that you can confer with and grow your knowledge.  I suggest the Auckland Beekeepers' Club - check out their website. 

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1 hour ago, Robin said:

HI, I've kept bees before but not recently and I now know that I previously had lots of gaps in knowledge. I'm planning to set up this winter but have some questions:

  • I previously found the full supers too heavy for the 2 of us to lift easily so would like to get half depth or 5 frames. I only want enough honey for a small household so I thought this might be adequate. I've had advice though that it's better to get 8 frames as 5 frames are hardly worth the trouble. What do you think? Would I be better with fewer frames or lesser depth? I know I'll not have standard accessories available for non-standard sizes so don't want to limit myself.
  • Are painted non-treated supers as good as the Tan E or Thermowood that Ceracell sell? 
  • For my small operation do you think I should get a bee blower or will bee escapes and smoking be enough?
  • WE've all gone a bit anti-plastic so I thought I'd give wood frames with wire a go. A bit nervous about the change as I previously found the plastic frames easy to deal with

I want the hobby to be as enjoyable and trouble-free as possible so any advice welcomed.

 

Robin

West Auckland

just buy honey if thats what you want, itll be cheaper in the long run

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2 hours ago, Robin said:

I previously found the full supers too heavy for the 2 of us to lift easily so would like to get half depth or 5 frames. I only want enough honey for a small household so I thought this might be adequate. I've had advice though that it's better to get 8 frames as 5 frames are hardly worth the trouble.

 

ok, your looking at this back to front.

a good beehive will produce a lot of honey, so to produce a small amount you need a bad crappy beehive which is most certainly something you do not want. no beekeeper wants bad hives.

you should always have a beehive is good condition and the byproduct of that is a lot of honey.

besides your friends will always be eager for free honey should you have to much.

so please get rid of this idea that you only want a small amount. bees simply do not work that way.

 

standard 10 frame 3/4 boxes will work fine. two hives as it pays to be able to use one to fix up the other.

i would use bee escapes. boxes there is plenty of discussion on here about the different ones.

 

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Robin said:

I previously found the full supers too heavy for the 2 of us to lift easily so would like to get half depth or 5 frames. I only want enough honey for a small household so I thought this might be adequate. I've had advice though that it's better to get 8 frames as 5 frames are hardly worth the trouble. What do you think? Would I be better with fewer frames or lesser depth? I know I'll not have standard accessories available for non-standard sizes so don't want to limit myself.

 

The advice not to go 5 frame was good. Even 8 frames is a bit too small and pokey for a healthy hive, but if you really want you could go 8 frames. Wouldn't be my advice though.

 

Going 10 frame means the hive will be lower to the ground and easier to work. You do not have to lift full boxes of honey, you can harvest the honey one frame at a time. Bigger priority should be running a healthy hive, to ensure you actually get some honey. Once that happens, how to go about harvesting it is a good problem to have. But probably 95% of the work is not harvetsing the honey, it's running the hive properly through the whole year.

 

4 hours ago, Robin said:

Are painted non-treated supers as good as the Tan E or Thermowood that Ceracell sell? 

 

No

 

4 hours ago, Robin said:

For my small operation do you think I should get a bee blower?

 

No

 

4 hours ago, Robin said:

WE've all gone a bit anti-plastic so I thought I'd give wood frames with wire a go. A bit nervous about the change as I previously found the plastic frames easy to deal with

 

Either can work, wood and wax is more natural, but more work.

Edited by Alastair
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52 minutes ago, Alastair said:

The advice not to go 5 frame was good. Even 8 frames is a bit too small and pokey for a healthy hive, but if you really want you could go 8 frames. Wouldn't be my advice though.

i'll add a bit here.

keep to standard gear. makes it easier to get and deal with. odd size boxes or frames just complicates things for no real reason.

 

wooden frames, especially wired frames, will require a bit of extra gear and know how. plastic will get you going straight away.

 

 

 

 

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2 hives

 

¾ frames 

 

10 frames boxes. 

 

No blower

 

and before you know it you’ll have enough gear for 4 hives, 3 nucs 2 turtle doves & a partridge in a pear tree

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I have some 6 frame polystyrene nuc boxes which are great for doing splits you can divide into 2 x 3 with a feeder on top and can stack on top of each other so I'm wintering 12 frames in 2 boxes. Standard f/d so I can move frames into boxes when they expand or harvest a few frames as they fill up.Bees seem to do well no rot very light and well insulated maybe a option 

ABC also have a really good top bar hive with standard frames no lifting of boxes and a nice hight to work at if you're a handy builder looks good too could be another option. 

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@Robin I restarted with one nuc unexpectedly about this time last year and now I have 3 hives. You will benefit from having at least two hives with two colonys. If a Queen fails/needs to be replaced you will need to get eggs and brood from a neighbouring hive to put in the queenless hive so the colony can raise a new queen. Sure you can buy a virgin queen or a mated queen and skip a couple of weeks ahead, but letting the colony have eggs in a brood frame seems to have a high chance of success and you get to watch one of the miracles of the natural world. So three hives let you help out colonies and have more rescue options on hand.

 

My first mentor when a first started back in 2015 asked me to only have 3/4 hiveware so I set up for that and made up lots. Have a look at the Easy Beekeeping resources in the resources Tab. It’s a viable way of working, all 3/4.

 

When we moved districts I restarted beekeeping and I bought a full frame nuc from my second mentor. So now I have a mix of the two sizes (AKA a dogs breakfast ).

 

But @Yesbut is right. Full frame hiveware is just as viable a choice....you don’t have to lift a full box...harvest honey as you go  ...inspect every frame, because you can, with 2-3 hives, load your colony frame by frame into other empty boxes set out beside you -brood into a fresh box on a hive floor and if there’s honey supers load frames into fresh boxes set in your hive top and harvest as you go to keep the weight manageable. Have a nuc box beside you to put the frame in with the queen on it -in order to protect her. 

 

Long and short not that I choose this combination I’m doing ok with full frame brood boxes (and 3/4 honey boxes)and manage to avoid much lifting. The experienced beeks quite rightly point out it’s all about technique. You will nut it out and find a way to work. 

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2 minutes ago, GoED said:

But @Yesbut is right. Full frame hiveware is just as viable a choice

 It's much harder to fumble and drop a 3/4 frame, and  easier to inspect. My frames can get very slithery to hang onto thanks to squashed stinging bees and spilt honey. Watching the toe of your gumboot emerging through a dropped FD frame of brood is annoying.

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Oh @Yesbut sorry I misread your post. Blast. You said 3/4!  And I would/will have all 3/4 in an ideal world. 

 

Yep @Robin 3/4 if you can .....

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On 10/05/2019 at 6:45 PM, tristan said:

 

ok, your looking at this back to front.

a good beehive will produce a lot of honey, so to produce a small amount you need a bad crappy beehive which is most certainly something you do not want. no beekeeper wants bad hives.

you should always have a beehive is good condition and the byproduct of that is a lot of honey.

besides your friends will always be eager for free honey should you have to much.

so please get rid of this idea that you only want a small amount. bees simply do not work that way.

 

standard 10 frame 3/4 boxes will work fine. two hives as it pays to be able to use one to fix up the other.

i would use bee escapes. boxes there is plenty of discussion on here about the different ones.

 

 

Thanks everyone. Lots of good advice and options. 

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My hives are a dogs breakfast .

Works best with three FD suppers  , two under the excluder , then a 3/4 right  on top .

So if there is a heavy full super up high it is only a 3/4 .

But now if I have honey to take off I put 5  frames each in two corflute HD nucs  and sit them behind the hive to clear of bees for half an hour.

Easy to lift .

I have to sit the nucs up on something other wise they get full of ants 

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Kaihoka that is a brainwave idea for clearing bees off honey frames I will pinch it for next season

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4 hours ago, Ahudot said:

Kaihoka that is a brainwave idea for clearing bees off honey frames I will pinch it for next season

The bees in the honey suppers are foragers and generally fly back to hive position .

Probably leave it an hour to be sure .

I do this when I am taking honey off during a flow .

If it was at the end of the season and there was no flow I would use escape boards , otherwise you would have your nucs robbed .

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agreed you especially don't want to risk a robbing debacle. But even 'attempted robbers' will go home at sunset, so if it is done late afternoon an hour before sunset, the Nuc's can be collected after sunset if it is a home situation and now that it is a bit chilly in most places bees will not want to hang around overnight. Taking a double brood hive down to only one box for winter, we did more or less the same thing the other day with largely empty frames that had a skerrick of honey across the top.

 

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