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Wow a follower...my first...thank you @cBank

 

The girls are doing well. I opened them up last week and had a look.

 

The bottom box is full of brood and honey around the edges, the second box is absolutely heaving with honey, but no brood to speak of and the third box above the queen excluder  has absolutely nothing happening in it. I was wondering if the Queen excluder was doing it's job too effectively but  some bees are getting through so I suspect that it's something else.

Over the last month or so there has been a lack of pollen coming in as I've been watching them. There was some robbing attempts last week and the girls did really well, lots of scraps on the doorstep, and they seem to be winning so that's awesome.

In the last couple of days I've seen pollen it again (orange, white, yellow) and so I'm thinking it might start to flow again and if that's the case they may start building into the third box.

 

Looking into this other people have done several things.  Some of them have sprayed sugar water onto the  frames, some of them move frames between Box 3 and box 2, some of them have added a feeder into the top box to draw the bees up.

I think I'm going to go down the track of putting a feeder into the top box, in line with what at @CHCHPaul suggested. Hopefully that will draw them up as well as giving them a little boost to get started on drawing out comb and honey into the top box.  As Paul says there is no rush and the hive looks like it's really really healthy.

Up until now I've kept the front door 30% closed as the bees were still growing the hive. The way they are taking care of robbers and the amount of bees that are in the two boxes I think it's now going to be safe to open up the door a little bit further and let them have full access.

 

Watching them last week the little ######s are very good at looking out for themselves which is lovely to see.

 

If I had any thoughts or worries of going forward it's if they don't start coming up into the third box, with the amount of bees that are on the bottom frames, maybe that look at swarming again. But that would be really unusual for them to ignore empty space and not go through the Queen excluder so we'll give it some time and see what happens.

 

I'm hoping to open up the box next week and I'll take some photos and see how they're going

 

 I ran into a new website which  has some interesting ideas about natural beekeeping. It's called girl-next-door beekeeping. She's very into natural keeping and has some really interesting ideas re not using foundation, the size of bees, resistance to diseases, and the potential problems of pesticide build up by using foundation on your frames.

 

I'm not ready to go down the line that she suggesting but she does make a really good read and references some interesting works along the way, with some decent research as well. I've put a link below.

 

As a beekeeper I got my first sting at the last week going into the boxes. A bee hit me in the head got trapped between my glasses and stung me in the temple. My recommendation is don't get stung there as it really hurts

 

 One of the things that the beekeeping next door girl says is this new Keepers like me often  emulate more experienced Keepers by going into their hives without gear on and that actually make us worse beekeepers in the long run. She suggests that wearing a suit as a new beekeeper, even if the bees are quite friendly and calm, means that we are more relaxed as new beekeepers and so will do a better job of inspection , will get into the hive more often, and will actually handle the hive better because we won't be as tense if we wearing a bee suit.

 

I think it's actually some really good advice for a new beekeeper so I'm not going to be going into The Hives is often without gear, and hopefully a more relaxed me will actually be a better  beekeeper, and then as I get more experienced will then be able to go without gear. 

 

I like working with out gear .. it feels more connected .. but suspect I'm less focused on the frames and more focused on the bees around me. So am suiting up even for small explores. I'll see how it affects my keeping. 

 

Anyway thanks for the following and I'm going to upload some photos next week when I go back do another inspection. Cheers Merry Christmas

Shane.

http://beekeepinglikeagirl.com/

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Thanks. I've looked at one club but its first Sat of the month - completely coinciding with a  previous commitment and also my sons gradings.   I checked he clubs on this site - but none in

Thanks @CHCHPaul. Sounds like your timing and advice was spot on 😊

Well it's been a while so heres a progress update. 1. I'm pretty sure my bees are aggressive with the new queen. They lift off and ping my face net when I go near after even the top box is off.

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I have never used Q excluders, but I wouldn't be putting a feeder on just to get them to move up. I'd either relax about it or lift a full or partial full frame up above the QE, or remove the QE altogether. They're only of value if you machine extract honey and need brood free honey frames . If as a small timer like me and harvesting = a large spoon & spatula then QE's are just an extra nuisance bit of gear. 

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@WebKiwiNZ I use Queen excluders  and if there isn't a good flow going, they can act as a barrier just as you have found. Some people describe them as honey excluders.

Is the 3rd box all foundation? Assuming yes, what you could do is remove  full frames from box 2 and alternate the foundation with drawn frames (keeps the girls from getting creative with their comb drawing) and place the full frames alternately with foundation in box 3. At this time of the year there should be reasonable nectar flows- so feeding is un-necessary and you risk getting sugar flavoured honey.

Use of excluder- your choice 

 

You probably have more 'followers' than you imagine....many just don't talk.

 

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@yesbut and @mummzie  Thanks for the advice.

 

I went into the hive this evening around 7.30pm.  14 degrees with 34km/h wind. Wanted to get it done before Christmas and although it was more windy than I normally open them up in thought they should be okay / sheltered. Was I wrong!!

 

I fully geared up  - so I would take my time, got the smoker working, opened the top box up. Nothing going on again. So went to the second box.

Second box (which is under the queen excluder) is chocker full of honey and bees but no brood - except a little in the very middle frames.  No change there since two weeks ago so went to the bottom box. The bottom box was absolutely heaving with bees. Its worth noting I had already had a couple of bees getting a bit investigative around my head gear, and also my daughters who was standing about 2m away.

 

I lifted a frame from the bottom box - capped brood, some uncapped larvae (small) and nectar / pollen and honey around the edges.  At this point the visit went southward. The girls decided they weren't happy (not sure why) and suddenly had bees pinging off my head gear, hitting my hands (no gloves) and generally being niggly. The noise also went up.  I got my daughter to go inside and walked away for a minute to let them calm down. They followed for about 5 -10 metres - pinging off my head gear.

 

I got some leather gloves, put them on and went back. When I got within about 2-3 metres of the hive a group of 10-20 or more bees lifted off and started pinging my head gear again. They were seriously ticked off. I backed away, went inside (after they finally left me alone) and got a brimmed hat to push out the head gear. One ear was feeling too close to the mesh for my comfort. I gave them 5 minutes to calm down - went back. Again a wave of bees up and went for me when I was about 2m or so away from the hive. They were seriously ticked off.

 

 To cut a long story short - I inserted a new frame into he bottom box to fill the gap I had left with the one frame out, put the brood filled frame from the bottom in box two, slapped on the queen excluder (to stop the bees attacking me from there - both boxes having a go at me) and Got the smoker working (they go out at just the wrong time don't they) and smoked the bees off the bottom box, placed box two with the QE on the boxes (slowed them down getting at me) and put the honey filled frame from box two into the top box (above the QE).

 

I was going to take the advice of swapping them out - every second one - but will work on the top two boxes on another day when the bees aren't so cantankerous.

 

Lessons learned:

  1. Wearing a bee suit was a great idea. I still dont know enough to go gung ho.
  2. Even wearing a bee suit wont keep a newbie like me calm if they are pinging off the hood and really trying to get at you. I stayed slow and careful but my t-shirt  was definitely a little sweatier than normal.
  3. Once I had got the brimmed hat under the hood I spent some time standing still near the hive, even though they were going for me. It helped get me more confident in my gear. I'm not suggesting newbies annoy their bees then stand in the resultant barrage to get experience - but I think taking time to experience being among annoyed bees in a suit is a good thing. I'm more confident in my gear now. The suit has some yellow spots on the hood and other parts that werent there before. Thankfully there was no brown spots where my undies are .. but when they first lit up it was a spooky experience.
  4. I don't know what set them off. I had removed the frame well before they lit up and hadn't done another frame. My theories are:
  • The wind. Possibly an open hive with gusts of wind up to 34km/h was enough to upset them
  • I am wearing a new deodorant based on tee tree oil. Normally I don't wear anything I can smell when working the bees - I can smell this stuff. Maybe it was the tea tree, maybe the smell.
  • Something completely different.

5. Your smoker will go out when you least want it to. I was trying some pine shavings but I think they were too fine. I think I'll stick with sacking - it has never failed me yet.

 

I'll get some photos up soon - after I go talk to them tomorrow - see what the story was :)   I read somewhere a lot of new bee keepers don't make it past 1 year, little less two. I think days like today might be part of that - it is off putting - but that's why getting along side some old hands is probably a good idea. I'm planning on going up to the Cashmere group next month if I can or drop into the Kaiapoi group.  Possibly will try to find a commercial bee keeper that needs a hand for a day or two - get used to what bees being worked more vigorously than I do as a novice looks like. Gain some skills and insight.

 

The things we go through to get honey hey ...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Its all learning, but if you can get to stand beside other beeks, its accelerated somewhat. And don't forget to read the Matheson book of words at least 3 times.

Comments- If possible , do most of your hive work while the field bees are out working. At 7.30 they had just returned from a hard day in the fields and then you turned up!!

The wind wont have helped- they aren't too happy if the weather is changing for the worse.

 

The QE only excludes the queen and the stingless drones. When you take a hive apart, it pays to stack the boxes into the upside down lid and put the crown board over the removed boxes. Then you have only one open box.

You have confirmed you have a laying queen which is good. Other than getting a couple more frames from box 2 up into the honey area - making sure to not take Her Maj and preferably not brood, you should be able to leave it for a bit. You don't have to do this, but will get a better result if you do. Alternative is just remove the QE-

On a nice day- open them to see if their temperament remains grumpy. If yes, seriously look for a new Q

Good luck

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12 hours ago, WebKiwiNZ said:

read somewhere a lot of new bee keepers don't make it past 1 year, little less two. I think days like today might be part of that - it is off putting

I started bee keeping in an isolated location so I had no access to a group .

Lots of things went wrong in the beginning .

It took me a while to work out how bees behaved in my enviroment . 4 yrs in I realise that experience is the biggest thing .

Each yr is different , esp in the bush when the flow varies so much from yr to yr,  and so does the weather.

There are no other bees in my area till the migrants arrive, to late to pollinate my berries and fruit trees.

Native pollinators do work . But I noticed a much heavier set when I got hives.

So I had lots of incentive to preserve.

Its much easier now , partly because I am a lot more relaxed and dont endlessly freak out when things dont work out exactly as I want .

I have 3 or 4 hives . To cover myself for losses and so I have spares to take brood from and to use for making queens etc.

Two hives I leave alone to make honey .

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22 hours ago, kaihoka said:

I started bee keeping in an isolated location so I had no access to a group .

Lots of things went wrong in the beginning .

It took me a while to work out how bees behaved in my enviroment . 4 yrs in I realise that experience is the biggest thing .

Each yr is different , esp in the bush when the flow varies so much from yr to yr,  and so does the weather.

There are no other bees in my area till the migrants arrive, to late to pollinate my berries and fruit trees.

Native pollinators do work . But I noticed a much heavier set when I got hives.

So I had lots of incentive to preserve.

Its much easier now , partly because I am a lot more relaxed and dont endlessly freak out when things dont work out exactly as I want .

I have 3 or 4 hives . To cover myself for losses and so I have spares to take brood from and to use for making queens etc.

Two hives I leave alone to make honey .

Im really greatful to this forum. Having access to this resource is a real help and the experience offered much appreciated. Im not sure how you got through a year isolated..thats a tough way to start.

 

The NZ beekeeping book is a great help and having been shown the site resources am looking forward to watching. A course was a good start but so much was theory until you get hands on then it all comes home. Im almost tempted to redo the course with experience under the belt ... would retain more thats for sure.

 

Im considering blogging a list of resources for newbies .. there are some great youtubers as well.

 

I think you have hit the key ... relaxation. Relaxed with the bees. Relaxed about the keys. Bees are a survivor  species with lots of strategies we learn from .. so as long as i dont drop a box, watch for verroa and help feed as required they should do okay. Kids are like that too ... except for the veroa .. but its so easy to get stressed when a life bump hits you. Surprisingly looking back 6 months the crisis of then arent an issue now.

 

Have  relaxed and Merry Christmas. 

On 8/10/2019 at 8:28 PM, yesbut said:

Welcome to the forum :)

 

On 23/12/2019 at 10:41 PM, Mummzie said:

Its all learning, but if you can get to stand beside other beeks, its accelerated somewhat. And don't forget to read the Matheson book of words at least 3 times.

Comments- If possible , do most of your hive work while the field bees are out working. At 7.30 they had just returned from a hard day in the fields and then you turned up!!

The wind wont have helped- they aren't too happy if the weather is changing for the worse.

 

The QE only excludes the queen and the stingless drones. When you take a hive apart, it pays to stack the boxes into the upside down lid and put the crown board over the removed boxes. Then you have only one open box.

You have confirmed you have a laying queen which is good. Other than getting a couple more frames from box 2 up into the honey area - making sure to not take Her Maj and preferably not brood, you should be able to leave it for a bit. You don't have to do this, but will get a better result if you do. Alternative is just remove the QE-

On a nice day- open them to see if their temperament remains grumpy. If yes, seriously look for a new Q

Good luck

Thanks for the advice.

Crown board on top...will do. I used my lid to keep stuff together but didnt to the board. 

Ill reopen them on a nice day. Interesting you say to do it during the day. Much advice says early morning or evening when they are calm  but looking back ive had it open middle of the day with less aggro.

Queen temperament ... will look at that. Its been a not straight forward run. The nuc had veroa when i got it as chewed wings showed 16 days or so after getting them. Then it swarmed 2 to 3 months ago during a strong pollen flow. Both thi gs im told can reflect on the queen. Continued aggression will have me looking for another.

 

Thanks for the advice.

 

Merry Christmas

Shane

 

 

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22 minutes ago, WebKiwiNZ said:

Ill reopen them on a nice day. Interesting you say to do it during the day. Much advice says early morning or evening when they are calm  but looking back ive had it open middle of the day with less aggro.

I try and open the hive when they are busiest and preoccupied with other things than me .

Worst time is a sunny warm  very windy day .

My hives are in a very sheltered spot , but if they go to far out of that zone the wind will send them back .

They sulk around the entrance ready to take out their aggro on anyone close .

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

The weather in Chch got slightly cooler last week....not by much but a little. I opened my back door one morning to find about 100 to 150 bees all around it.

 

Most were clumped around an outside light we keep on for my son who lives in a sleep out. They stayed there until the sun started to reach the back door then flew off one by one.

 

An unexpected welcome to the day.

 

We were in Arthur's Pass Park last week. Lots of manuka blooming. All through Cragieburn and Oxford as well. Bee keepers near lake Pearson area moving hives so they are busy. In Oxford forest lots of bee flight lines visible when looking across the valleys. So its manuka time in Canterbury.

 

 

20200108_082832.jpg

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38 minutes ago, Bighands said:

All manuka on the hill opposite the bealey hotel.

The weather is the critical issue in this area though.   it might flower but it is too cold for active bee flying, or just too darned windy.    Its not easy gathering a crop of anything unless you get a bit of leeway with some fine enough and warm enough weather, aside from all the other factors. 

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On 8/01/2020 at 8:36 AM, yesbut said:

Are you sure it isn't Kanuka ?

 

White flowered - thats manuka isn't it?   No - jsut checked and I'm wrong - Kanuka can be white too ...

 

Ma (Maori)  - White  - but its not the case

 

However the bushes we saw had dense white flowers - where as I understand Kanuka is more sparse - not as clumped.

 

It looked like the bushes had light greyish snow all over them. Like the photo below.

 

 

 

 

manuka.jpg

On 8/01/2020 at 10:03 AM, Chrisdub said:

The weather is the critical issue in this area though.   it might flower but it is too cold for active bee flying, or just too darned windy.    Its not easy gathering a crop of anything unless you get a bit of leeway with some fine enough and warm enough weather, aside from all the other factors. 

 

Up near View Hill / Oxford Forest I see there is a big bee farm - 2,500,000 bees according to the gate sign.   They were flying over 1km away at the view hill car park and getting into the Manuka??  bushes there.

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2 hours ago, WebKiwiNZ said:

White flowered - thats manuka isn't it?   No - jsut checked and I'm wrong - Kanuka can be white too ...

Manuka = slightly prickly feel to foliage, lots of previous years seed capsules on it.

 

Kanuka = slightly softer feel, only present season's seed capsules present, and they're much smaller.

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16 minutes ago, yesbut said:

 

Manuka = slightly prickly feel to foliage, lots of previous years seed capsules on it.

 

Kanuka = slightly softer feel, only present season's seed capsules present, and they're much smaller.

Strip the bark off,the cambian layer is white or red I cannot remember which.

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3 hours ago, WebKiwiNZ said:

White flowered - thats manuka isn't it?   No - jsut checked and I'm wrong - Kanuka can be white too ...

 

Ma (Maori)  - White  - but its not the case

 

However the bushes we saw had dense white flowers - where as I understand Kanuka is more sparse - not as clumped.

 

It looked like the bushes had light greyish snow all over them. Like the photo below.

 

 

 

 

manuka.jpg

 

Up near View Hill / Oxford Forest I see there is a big bee farm - 2,500,000 bees according to the gate sign.   They were flying over 1km away at the view hill car park and getting into the Manuka??  bushes there.

Looks like manuka to me .

Its very obvious here , manuka flowers are snow white and stay that way  and kanuka go dusty pink quickly

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6 minutes ago, yesbut said:

The seed capsules on manuka are a really really really really obvious determining feature. Stripping the bark off to tell the difference ? Spare me days $#@5!

 I agree If you can get that close little nuts or big nuts is the best way .

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Up near View Hill / Oxford Forest I see there is a big bee farm - 2,500,000 bees according to the gate sign.   They were flying over 1km away at the view hill car park and getting into the Manuka??  bushes there.    

The number of beehives in the Mt Oxford area is absolutely massive - would blow your mind - all there for honey dew as that is the predominant honey sort.   What little manuka is there would just infect good honey dew (a far nicer honey anyhow) 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Well it's been a while so heres a progress update.

1. I'm pretty sure my bees are aggressive with the new queen. They lift off and ping my face net when I go near after even the top box is off.

Running a hand over the top gets them stirred up and investigating. I'm now wearing gloves .. gardening gloves have material strips .. which bees exploit so now I've got proper leather gloves.

Also gum boots. The little beggars can find that gap where a suit rides up even with boots and thick socks. Gumboots are excellent ankle protectors.

 

In exploring if it's me or the bees I tried opening up in the evening (more workers bees back home so more pinging me) , middle of the day .. still an unpleasant experience and on a cooler day ... they were annoyed but then one wind gusts and suddenly a wave of 20 or so lifted off and came to get me. 

 

The final confirmation for me was when there were bees on the ground one morning. Normally I can pick them up with no issues but these had their butts in the air as soon as I put my hand near them. Very defensive.

 

So it's new queen time. It's possible my new queen cross mated with a black  bee.  I've seen some jet black ones around.

 

Things I've learned.

Put your cover on a box you have taken off as it keeps them settled. It means there is one less annoyed bunch of bees that can fly at you.

If you have 2 or 3 boxes ... take the top two off and do the bottom one first.  It means you can get a cover on it quicker and its exposed for less time so there are less annoyed workers returning to bulk up the bombing runs.

Bees can sting through suits. But not too often.

Keep your net away from your ears. Bees sting through nets touching your ears.

Bee suits rock!! If I'd worked this hive suitless I hate to think what state this newbie would have ended up in.

If you have annoyed bees ... sometimes staying still and forcing yourself to be in their presence is good. It teaches you to trust your suit. 

 

It looks like this first season I'll be honeyless. The girls have the second box full so that is good for winter. I did stripe my third box with frames from box two so more brood cells in box two ... but I have a feeling they may have taken  honey from box three, above the queen excluder, and moved it down. There were a lot of bees drinking even before I used smoke.

 

Next week its treatment time... I've used baverol(spelling) previously   so will use apivar??  The one different to baverol and that means I will not be able to use honey as it's got withholding periods. So no honey  this year ... well maybe one frame.

 

Considering their rough start .. chewed wing two weeks after getting them .. and the queen issues ... I'm pretty happy they have two boxes with brood and lots of honey so it should be a good start to next season. That and a new queen...hopefully not aggressive.

 

Photo taken tonight... a heavy beard. It's not just my wife finding the weather hot.

20200202_213632.jpg

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You're welcome to have some of our honey, we have too much, although it's just not the same as from  your own bees I know.  I don't use insecticide.  Heaps of our bees were hanging outside this afternoon too.  Riccarton area.  Gosh it was hot.  I will be adding OA strips next week I think. 

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