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AeroviewBrewery

Archive Bees of the Haven - a new beekeeper's log

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Bees of the Haven – a new beekeeper’s log

 

 

The purpose of this log for me:

 

-Online log to access & keep track of things.

-Write up notable events at my apiary from the start.

-Hopefully in part speed up my development as a beekeeper.

-Note down observations and measurements / estimates.

-Help me look back and understand why something happened.

-Draft future plans and intentions for the apiary and use the forum as a sounding board for those.

 

Beekeeping events so far:

 

Winter 2015:

Went through the beekeeping course held by Auckland Beekeepers Club

 

01/04/2016:

Picked up a bee colony from Julian / Beezthings at Riverhead:

-circa 3-4 frames of brood, a couple of frames of honey, a good number of bees shaken in + a summer 2015-16 queen.

-bees put in a 10-frame FD box

 

04/2016:

Inspected hive on the weekends:

-queen was laying new brood, however also saw DWV bees and spotted varroa visible on bees. Hygienic behaviour was seen with bees digging out purple eyed pupae.

 

30/04/2016:

Read up about varroa and put 2 x Apistan strips into brood nest

 

05/2016:

-Feed situation was 2 full frames of old honey, a couple of corners of fresh capped/uncapped honey around brood nest.

-Registered the apiary

 

08/05/2016:

-Made a small jar feeder: bees took 600g of sugar over 10 days.

 

20/05/2016:

-Upgraded into a medium top feeder and fed 2:1 sugar syrup: filled with 4 litres, however maybe only one litre was taken in the following month.

 

03/07/2016:

Removed Apistan strips from brood nest (9 weeks, however was away until 02/07/2016 so couldn’t remove earlier). The treatment appeared to have worked, although I didn’t do a sugar shake – no more DWV was visible, there appeared to be less pupae dug out.

 

07-08/2016:

Largely let the hive be: the bees appeared to be flying throughout the winter, though – especially on sunny weekends the main flightpath was as busy as I had seen it.

 

 

16/08/2016:

-Added a new FD brood box on top of hive given the available space all the way to Frames 1 and 10 was about 80% taken by honey.

 

 

20/08/2016:

-Went through the hive; brood on 5 of the middle frames of the bottom FD box – mostly worker brood, with a small (about 10 x 10 cell) patch of drone brood on the outermost frame of the brood nest. Capped brood nicely circled by uncapped brood, although the brood nest doesn’t quite reach the whole width of the frame like in some of the pictures I’ve seen – there’s pollen and honey on the side corners pretty much throughout. All up the amount of brood would fully cover perhaps 1 frame on both sides.

-All of the new frames (plastic, with foundation) in the second brood box have been partially drawn from the bottom towards the top, with the middle ones having some nectar put in.

-Replaced Frame 7 of the bottom box with a new foundation frame to give the bottom box some more space and moved the full honey frame to the top box.

 

21/08/2016:

-Did first varroa sugar shake test: shook one frame of bees from the brood nest into a box & scooped from there (note: varroa book recommends taking bees from 3 brood frames – will do that next time). No varroa seen dropping on the plate, only one dead lesser wax moth.

-Put in 2 Apivar strips (kindly sponsored by CraBee)

-Put the top feeder back on and mixed 2 kg’s of sugar into 2 litres of water. Left the bee-drowning protector chimney out but filled the feeder with dry cabbage tree leaves to see which method works better. Q excluder between feeder and top brood box.

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ChrisM    597
& scooped from there

 

normally it is easier to pour these into a jar with a fill line marked on it, as opposed to scooping.

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Rob Stockley    2,763
normally it is easier to pour these into a jar with a fill line marked on it, as opposed to scooping.

Hmmmmm I would have agreed with you @ChrisM but I find that I may be a little too liberal with the fill line. Once they're in the jar, plus or minus, you kind of want to continue. Others may be more disciplined. I'm going to try a scoop and see if that reduces variability in my sample sizes.

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ChrisM    597

hehe, well if you overfill, it is easy to let some fly out, getting them out has never been my problem. Too many bees is only an issue if you are close to your chosen threshold, so if you get say 5 or more mites, the extra number of bees is of no real importance; and best just to do the test quickly. If you had to retest it next inspection cycle because you couldn't decide if it was one over or under the threshold then probably it will not collapse between then and next inspection.

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28/08/2016:

It has been a windy and rainy week; checked the hive briefly.

-more foundation has been drawn into comb, the FD 2 middle frames above brood nest are being drawn first and filled with nectar (or possibly sugar syrup) and pollen.

-Pace of foundation drawing is a bit slower than last week, possibly because of the weather.

-Interestingly, the middle frames have been drawn all the way up to the top but not all the way out to the sides; this may have to do with the fact that the top feeder access is through the middle at the top.

-Some sugar syrup remains in the top feeder; I'm checking it regularly during the week but not refilling until it has finished to find out how long the bees took to finish the batch.

-Met the queen, also saw eggs for the first time (of course they were there before, just didn't really know how to look). Lots of eggs and uncapped larvae around the capped brood.

-The existing small patch of drone brood remains capped but there's no new capped drone brood.

-No queen cells.

-Didn't have much time so didn't do sugar shake or go through the whole hive this weekend.

-The bees are bringing in bright orange pollen with their pollen baskets really full, to the point that it looks a bit comical. There are a few big flowering Camellia plants in the neighbourhood - I wonder if that is what the girls are collecting.

-I'm getting through the Varroa in NZ book, which has been a good resource along with the recent forum conversations; I feel like I have at least some idea of what kind of controlling will be required through the year.

-Bought a one-handed queen catcher and a marking pen; I'm going to practice with some drones before drowning her highness in paint, however.

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01/09/2016:

Checked the feeder and the bees have taken all the sugar syrup to the last drop - that's 10-11 days to take in 2 kg's of sugar in a 1:1 mix. On another note the underside of the hive mat has gone a bit mouldy above the feeder, which isn't ideal. I guess it'll get cleaned up when I remove the feeder and place the mat directly on top of the frames again.

 

I have another 2 kg's of sugar to mix tonight and will have a proper check of the hive on the weekend.

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03/09/2016:

A fairly thorough check of the hive. I took my time and moved slowly to minimise aggravating the bees, which worked quite well. I also used a small towel to cover the frames I'm not working on, which seemed to reduce the amount of flying going on around me - there are a lot more bees now so it seemed like the appropriate thing to do.

 

The bees have drawn about half of the top FD box; middle frames are up to 90% drawn and each filled with a very similar pattern - recently capped honey on top, uncapped honey in the middle of the frame and pollen on the bottom (above the brood nest). The frames on the edges haven't been drawn yet. The queen is yet to visit the top FD box; there's no brood or eggs that I could see.

 

The bottom box has at least 6 frames of brood - including one new foundation frame I put in as Frame 9 a couple of weeks ago, which is now about 75% drawn and has about 25% capped brood. There's a nice oval-shaped brood nest in most of the frames, surrounded by an area of pollen on the sides and capped honey towards the edges - there's very little uncapped honey in the bottom box; it's all going to the top FD.

 

A few drones in the hive, also there is one area in the brood nest where there's more drone brood than elsewhere; I'm unsure if this is caused by some previous damage to the comb, because the frame is one of the old ones I got with the colony and it is a bit oversized so tends to get a bit of damage when pulled apart. It must have had a bit of extra space around it because the comb has been built almost to the thickness of the top edge of the frame.

 

Also found the queen, caught her with the one-handed catcher and marked her with a white marker (as she is from 2015 season). Felt a bit nervous but it went okay - I let her back into the hive and she seemed to be getting back into it. I always feel really nervous about pushing the next frame back against the frame I know she is on, though! It would be a bit of a let down to squish her after all that.

 

Did a sugar shake with bees from a brood frame - again no varroa; unsure what to think, but I guess I have to believe it. I think I will do an alcohol shake later in the spring and do a proper count to make sure the mites haven't just been lucky with the sugar shakes.

 

All in all the hive seems to be growing in numbers nicely; no queen cells were present and there's plenty of room in the top FD box so I should have plenty of time to figure out a strategy for the spring split for when the time is right.

 

At the moment I'm planning to do the split no earlier than end of October when Apivar comes out - hopefully the bees feel the same way.

 

The question in my mind at this stage is:

 

There is lots of pollen and honey being stored. The number of bees in the hive is growing, seemingly quite fast. I'm currently feeding 1:1 syrup (started 2 weeks ago) and I have some feed bee to make patties / liquid pollen substitute with if need be. Is there a risk that I cause the hive to become too big this early in the spring? (too many bees for spring rainy periods, swarming too early?) I want to have a strong hive to split but it feels like things are really ramping up already and it is barely spring yet. How would you assess when to stop feeding?

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M4tt    2,597

Good work;);).

One option is to keep feeding and keep drawing wax and increasing bee numbers. Once you are getting towards two boxes that are about three quarters full of bees, do your split and start the process again . You will end up with two strong hives for the honey flow.

Particularly since you are seeing drones, anytime from the next couple of weeks would be good to split, before they get swarming tendencies

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Thanks, M4tt! I guess things are progressing a bit quicker than I thought.

 

I will proceed with more feeding - I'll try to get around making some patties tomorrow and place them above the brood nest. Hard to say for certain but it looks like the syrup is going faster than the first batch was - I guess the bees have found it now so it is taken in quicker.

 

I'm looking at the different splitting options. At the moment I'm veering towards a vertical split with a split board in between; they say it is a softer impact for both the hives as the bottom hive provides some heat to the top one and if the split fails, you can recombine easier.

 

One of the details I haven't quite figured out yet is the feeding after the split; a top feeder above each half of the split would be an option?

 

Some further thoughts:

 

I am also trying to get more drawn comb to have fully drawn frames for the split, however it looks like the bees pretty much fill up the frames with nectar/pollen at the same pace as they are drawing the comb so I'm not going to have empty drawn frames available.

 

Some of the guides say you should have over 10 frames of brood to begin with - I'm not there yet. 10 frames of brood would mean brood on the second FD box; at the moment it seems the bees are effectively cordoning the brood nest off in the bottom box by putting pollen and honey right above it.

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Kiwi Bee    385

@AeroviewBrewery, lift 1 or 2 frames with fresh brood into the center of the 2nd brood box and brake the nest in the bottom box.

 

Note: try to do your autumn varroa treatment about 8 weeks earlier.

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Thanks Kiwi Bee! Yeah, I was very late with the varroa treatment in the autumn, just took me a while to get up to speed with what to do & when...I was lucky because the treatment must have been effective despite the lateness.

 

I'll move some brood up - I also read about checkerboarding and think I might do that with the FD # 2 drawn honey frames; bring the undrawn frames closer to the middle to give the bees more drawing to do, just to delay things getting congested and swarmy.

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08/09/2016:

Checked the sugar syrup status - empty. 2 kg's of sugar in 2 litres of water taken in <8 days. Will refill tonight. Need to get in the hive to do checker boarding & lift up brood but its rainy today.

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Didn't end up doing syrup today - hopefully tomorrow, however did manage to dash into the hive during a narrow window of sunny weather. Moved 2 frames with brood into the middle of the top FD box and put two partially drawn frames from the top down into the sides of the brood nest at the bottom. Felt like a bit of a slap dash job as I didn't have much time & didn't plan things out much but the hive is very busy so hopefully there is plenty of bees to keep the top box brood warm etc.

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18/09/2016:

I've been finding it hard to find time to get to the hive when the weather is good - checked in today at 3pm despite average weather as I'm a bit worried of the hive running away with their build up while I'm not looking.

 

Things are certainly busy. The top FD box is almost completely built up (box added on 16/08 so just over a month ago); I put 2 frames with brood into the middle of the top FD box 10 days ago - the foundation/honey frames on each side of those brood frames are now about 75% filled with capped brood. I saw at least 4 beginnings of queen cells (open), close to the bottom of the top FD frames; I don't think they had eggs in them yet - they weren't elongated, just a 'ball-shape' drawn out from the rest of the frame with a round opening pointing down.

 

I don't have a full brood frame count as it was late in the day and threatening to rain.

 

I'm trying to decide between trying to delay the split by getting another FD box (like @Philbee does) and manipulating the brood upwards or just getting the split done now. Weather has been quite rainy, which might not be best for mating but then it looks like @CraBee has already succeeded in breeding a new mated queen this season close to where I am.

 

I don't have more FD boxes, only two 3/4's which I intended for honey supers - need to get another FD if I intend to move brood further up.

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tristan    2,941
I don't have more FD boxes, only two 3/4's which I intended for honey supers

your going to need a whole lot more boxes/frames soon even if do not split it.

start making them pronto.

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CraBee    391
18/09/2016:

I've been finding it hard to find time to get to the hive when the weather is good - checked in today at 3pm despite average weather as I'm a bit worried of the hive running away with their build up while I'm not looking.

 

Things are certainly busy. The top FD box is almost completely built up (box added on 16/08 so just over a month ago); I put 2 frames with brood into the middle of the top FD box 10 days ago - the foundation/honey frames on each side of those brood frames are now about 75% filled with capped brood. I saw at least 4 beginnings of queen cells (open), close to the bottom of the top FD frames; I don't think they had eggs in them yet - they weren't elongated, just a 'ball-shape' drawn out from the rest of the frame with a round opening pointing down.

 

I don't have a full brood frame count as it was late in the day and threatening to rain.

 

I'm trying to decide between trying to delay the split by getting another FD box (like @Philbee does) and manipulating the brood upwards or just getting the split done now. Weather has been quite rainy, which might not be best for mating but then it looks like @CraBee has already succeeded in breeding a new mated queen this season close to where I am.

 

I don't have more FD boxes, only two 3/4's which I intended for honey supers - need to get another FD if I intend to move brood further up.

 

And there have been a couple of others mention they had mated Queens this season, one I think was @M4tt.

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your going to need a whole lot more boxes/frames soon even if do not split it.

start making them pronto.

 

Thanks, Tristan - I'll get onto it. Looks like there's no plastic frames with wax foundation available at the moment - do the bees accept uncoated plastic frames or is that a bad idea?

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CraBee    391
Thanks, Tristan - I'll get onto it. Looks like there's no plastic frames with wax foundation available at the moment - do the bees accept uncoated plastic frames or is that a bad idea?

 

They will draw out the straight plastic but it is hard work for them. The wax on the plastic frames encourages them to get started. You can buy plastic frames and buy wax and then paint or roll the wax on, or, buy the plastic frames pre-waxed. Trouble is wax is in very short supply and my last order of waxed frames had a two month lead time. The other option you have is to give me a PM and I'll give some to you and you can swap me back when you get some. I got heaps in plastic waxed (FD size) last week from that order, I have more than enough for now.

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M4tt    2,597

You've got a small window to think about your approach if indeed those are swarm cells, which I can't tell from here. Your observations are going well (y)

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tristan    2,941
Thanks, Tristan - I'll get onto it. Looks like there's no plastic frames with wax foundation available at the moment - do the bees accept uncoated plastic frames or is that a bad idea?

bad idea.

bees do not like plastic. very difficult to get them to draw on it. more often than not its ends up a horrible mess that will take a fair bit of work to fix.

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ChrisM    597

given the lack of wax foundation maybe a whole lot of people will try foundationless frames through necessity (?). If you take a regular frame, add a triangle of wood to the underside of the top bar such that there is a sharp corner of wood along the underside of the top bar on centreline. It might get fully drawn before the plastic, would be interesting to see.

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tristan    2,941

might be better to use wooden frames and fit a starter strip of foundation. one sheet can do a lot of frames.

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Thanks for the input once again, its really great.

 

I'll give a call to the usual suppliers tomorrow and ask if there's any plastic foundation frames at all and about their order process for hobbyists - @CraBee, really appreciate the offer & I'll let you know.

 

Tomorrow looks like the best day of the week weatherwise as well, actually; I'll see if I can manage a proper count of brood / egg frames.

 

At the moment I'm veering towards trying to delay the split a bit in order for the weather to warm up and to have a stronger split, but I don't know if my current skill is sufficient to delay swarming. I guess I'll find out, hah.

 

If I add another FD box on top with plastic frames with foundation only, would you lift up both honey and brood or just honey to begin with? I wouldn't want to accidentally chill the brood but at the same time another brood nest opening might be required.

 

Also, since there are some queen cell-building going on already (I'll take a photo to show what they look like), will opening the brood nest help anymore or is the poop already in the pants, so to speak?

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19/09/2016:

-Ceracell had hobbyist amounts of wax coated plastic FD frames available so got 2 FD boxes and the frames for them.

-Went into the hive, added FD box # 3 (making the hive 3 FD's high), moved 2 frames of brood and 2 frames of honey into the middle of the top box and added a couple of empty frames in the brood nest lower down.

-Queen has most recently been laying in FD # 2 more than the bottom brood box; the bottom brood nest looks like a lot of it has recently hatched / is hatching, although there's some uncapped brood as well.

-the bottom rows of capped brood in FD # 2 are predominantly drones.

-some of the old frame / comb (from when I got the hive) in FD # 1 is quite mangled, some drone brood is broken every time I pull it out and now there's a couple of queen cup-looking things on it as well.

-Made 6 kg's of 1:1 syrup and will put into top feeder once cooled down.

 

Hopefully the manipulation helps without disturbing things too much.

 

I've uploaded a few photos of the queen cups etc.

5992eb773121b_20160919_brood1.jpg.f63863f5141df15525e919e42dc22ded.jpg

5992eb77380ec_20160919_brood2.jpg.2f16be051b98ef7707902fc874319d86.jpg

5992eb773d8b4_20160919_brood3.jpg.d0cb6255b76e5d00ab0fe5971c2b8fb5.jpg

5992eb77431b2_20160919_cappedhoneyandpollen.jpg.4a45b3ee688680c25927481d6db66f28.jpg

5992eb7747fbb_20160919_FD1mangledmess.jpg.429b704b5ca1056a89feab34c431a084.jpg

5992eb774ca50_20160919_FD1.jpg.c7fbd3670975a1e6837308767aff9600.jpg

5992eb77d6840_20160919_markedQandQcup2.jpg.38cc63ddea1f467aa55d3ea234a7f6c0.jpg

5992eb77dcda1_20160919_Qcup1.jpg.c319a5daf3f5e56295f36ae55d25bf86.jpg

5992eb77e3316_20160919_Qcup2.jpg.b78205b59a277b0e5dea610dec4f5dc0.jpg

5992eb77e8b9d_20160919_3rdboxinplace.jpg.e6c87360c4055165a00f991cfc219890.jpg

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