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Author Topic: Planning for year two  (Read 1759 times)

Offline Bobbee

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Planning for year two
« on: November 03, 2020, 12:37:18 pm »
I came to this part of the forum because I want to see how people who don't treat manage it.
It would be interesting to know how many people experienced a first year beekeeping like the first year I had. Both hives absconded.At the moment the idea of a colony of bees that are resistant to varroa is very attractive.
Buying nuc after nuc hoping to get lucky with a colony with good VSH is not a very attractive proposition to me.I have been thinking of ways to better the odds.Almost all of the local beekeepers I have talked to treat
with a surprising number using Apivar.The odds of getting the right bees from them seems pretty slim.So what to do?
I have just had an idea.And by "just had" I mean now, as I am typing.Step one buy a package of bees not a local nuc.Now there is a 60% chance or better that the queen will be superseded so at the same time I can order a Saskatraz queen to replace the queen that the package comes with.
If I remember right the package I can get in late March early April and the Saskatraz Queen at the beginning of June.That gives the queen two months to prove herself.If the queen is proved viable I will have an extra queen.The question the becomes will I be able to pull a frame of brood plus a few nurse bees and start a new "nuc" with the Saskatraz queen? If the queen is not a good egg producer I will have the Saskatraz.
I don't have the experience or knowledge to know if this is a good idea.


Offline The15thMember

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Re: Planning for year two
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2020, 02:05:09 pm »
I started with two packages from a local supplier who only treats the bees organically.  I had treatment free packages lined up, but they had too many winter losses to sell and so that fell through.  I tried just sugar dusting my first year, which is basically the tamest treatment option out there, and I was ALMOST in the same boat as you.  I had a colony crash and abscond late in the year, and only by treating the other colony with MAQS was I able to save them.  In my area (and I'm under the impression that many people treat around here, although I'm not 100% sure that is true) I don't think doing absolutely NOTHING is a reasonable expectation.  I don't want to use chemicals either, preferably not even organic ones, and so I experimented with a trapping comb treatment this year and will continue to do so next year.  I can give you the links to the related threads if you are interested in looking at that more in depth. 

As far as replacing a package queen, I think there is nothing wrong with doing so.  If you'd like to give a specific VSH-type queen a try right off the bat, I don't see why that would be an issue.  Remember that package bees are just a bunch of bees and a queen dumped in a package together, the workers aren't really attached to that queen yet at all, which is why supersedures after installing a package are so common.  Perhaps just replace the queen in the package with a queen of your choice, or let them get going and then make a split and put the preferred queen in the stronger hive and the non VSH queen in the weaker split and just see what happens.  There's ultimately a lot of variations on it, but if you are inclined to try a VSH breed of queen, I don't see why introducing her to a package or a small hive would be an issue.     

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Offline Bobbee

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Re: Planning for year two
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2020, 02:23:00 pm »
I started with two packages from a local supplier who only treats the bees organically.  I had treatment free packages lined up, but they had too many winter losses to sell and so that fell through.  I tried just sugar dusting my first year, which is basically the tamest treatment option out there, and I was ALMOST in the same boat as you.  I had a colony crash and abscond late in the year, and only by treating the other colony with MAQS was I able to save them.  In my area (and I'm under the impression that many people treat around here, although I'm not 100% sure that is true) I don't think doing absolutely NOTHING is a reasonable expectation.  I don't want to use chemicals either, preferably not even organic ones, and so I experimented with a trapping comb treatment this year and will continue to do so next year.  I can give you the links to the related threads if you are interested in looking at that more in depth. 

As far as replacing a package queen, I think there is nothing wrong with doing so.  If you'd like to give a specific VSH-type queen a try right off the bat, I don't see why that would be an issue.  Remember that package bees are just a bunch of bees and a queen dumped in a package together, the workers aren't really attached to that queen yet at all, which is why supersedures after installing a package are so common.  Perhaps just replace the queen in the package with a queen of your choice, or let them get going and then make a split and put the preferred queen in the stronger hive and the non VSH queen in the weaker split and just see what happens.  There's ultimately a lot of variations on it, but if you are inclined to try a VSH breed of queen, I don't see why introducing her to a package or a small hive would be an issue.   
My greatest concern is if I not so much adding the queen as it is splitting the package of bees after about two months assuming the package queen is good. After 60 days of the queen laying do you think there will be enough of a population to siphon off brood and nurse bees for a second queen?

Offline The15thMember

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Re: Planning for year two
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2020, 02:36:19 pm »
My greatest concern is if I not so much adding the queen as it is splitting the package of bees after about two months assuming the package queen is good. After 60 days of the queen laying do you think there will be enough of a population to siphon off brood and nurse bees for a second queen?
First off, let me say I've never done something like this, so I don't have any hands-on experience, just kind of trying to help you brainstorm.  :happy:  I guess the point I was trying to make is, why split at all?  If you want that VSH queen, just put her in the hive with the package bees instead of the queen they came with.  Or, if you want to not waste that package queen, just make a small split (like a frame or 2 of brood and a frame or 2 of stores) off the hive whenever you feel comfortable doing so, put the VSH queen in the full hive, stick the package queen in a nuc/box with a follower board and see what happens with her.  Why would it have to be 60 days from the time you got the package? 
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Offline Bobbee

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Re: Planning for year two
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2020, 04:13:51 pm »
This conversation is a great help. In going into detail like this and explaining my ideas to more experienced beekeepers I hope to learn enough to do better next year  The problem being a new beekeeper is most of what I know is still book learning. The only practical experience I have had is this past year and that did not end so well.
 The 60 days is approximately the time between when I can get the package of bees near the end of March and when I can get the queen.
This year  >http://saskatraz.com/< started selling production queens in early June.If however I end up with a good queen in the package then after 60 days when the new queen arrives I might be able to have two small nucs going from one package.If there are enough bees and brood.

Offline The15thMember

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Re: Planning for year two
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2020, 05:02:24 pm »
This conversation is a great help. In going into detail like this and explaining my ideas to more experienced beekeepers I hope to learn enough to do better next year  The problem being a new beekeeper is most of what I know is still book learning. The only practical experience I have had is this past year and that did not end so well.
Yeah, it can be a steep learning curve with bees.  There are just so many different bees, climates, and styles of beekeeping, and in the end the only people who can really tell you what to do or not do are you and your bees.  Once you get over the hump of knowing enough about how to keep the bees alive, and how to make more if you want/need them, it becomes easier I've found.  There is always more to learn with bees, which is one of my favorite things about them.   :smile:

The 60 days is approximately the time between when I can get the package of bees near the end of March and when I can get the queen.
This year  >http://saskatraz.com/< started selling production queens in early June.If however I end up with a good queen in the package then after 60 days when the new queen arrives I might be able to have two small nucs going from one package.If there are enough bees and brood.
I see, that makes sense.  At this point, I'm going to have to say, "I'm not sure".  I'm not experienced enough myself to give advice on whether 60 days is too soon to split, and I'm willing to bet that, as with most beekeeping questions, the answer is going to be, "It depends".   

 
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Offline cao

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Re: Planning for year two
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2020, 09:06:35 pm »
This conversation is a great help. In going into detail like this and explaining my ideas to more experienced beekeepers I hope to learn enough to do better next year  The problem being a new beekeeper is most of what I know is still book learning. The only practical experience I have had is this past year and that did not end so well.
 The 60 days is approximately the time between when I can get the package of bees near the end of March and when I can get the queen.
This year  >http://saskatraz.com/< started selling production queens in early June.If however I end up with a good queen in the package then after 60 days when the new queen arrives I might be able to have two small nucs going from one package.If there are enough bees and brood.

I would say that would be pushing it on splitting the package.  Remember that at best your package is losing bees the first 3 weeks until the first brood hatches.  And I would say that it would take another 3 weeks to get back to the original numbers.  At the 60 day mark, you might have enough brood to make a small nuc provided that there was not a setback with the package replacing the original queen.  Like I said not impossible but everything need to go your way.  If you are going this route and can afford it, I would get 2 packages and take some from both to make your nuc for the new queen. 


Online Acebird

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Re: Planning for year two
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2020, 07:39:54 am »
I don't have the experience or knowledge to know if this is a good idea.
My thoughts:
There are many things a beekeeper can do and have success but the first step is to have success.  I see in posts many newbies struggle because they read something in a book or on line and fail to make it happen.  It is not because what they read is wrong it is more because they try things without having the experience to know if they are doing it right or they did something else at the same time and that changed the result.
My philosophy:
Bees don't need humans, they really don't.  Experimentation is best done when you have multiple hives that you can afford to lose.  Much of the learning about bees is watching and observing not doing.
Good luck.
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Online Bob Wilson

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Re: Planning for year two
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2020, 11:31:43 am »
... and in the end the only people who can really tell you what to do or not do are you and your bees. 

15Member. Great point. After all is said and done, it is the bees who become our teachers.

Bobbee. Do not forget about swarm boxes. I have found it very easy and very rewarding to catch swarms. These are smaller bees, have never had varroa treatment and so are completely organic. They have proven their capability of thriving in your location without mite treatment. All it costs is a couple of cheap made boxes (or spare deeps) with a plywood top, a few empty frames, and some lemon grass oil. If you put them up in February and they catch nothing that year... then what did you lose? Nothing. Take them down in September and put them back up again the next spring.

BUT... if you DO catch a swarm... then you have the equivalent of a very strong nuc of bees, with a strong queen ready to lay eggs, which came through the last winter thriving without any treaments, and these "packages" of bees arrive free in your swarm boxes, year after year.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2020, 11:47:43 am by Bob Wilson »

Offline The15thMember

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Re: Planning for year two
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2020, 12:43:16 pm »
BUT... if you DO catch a swarm... then you have the equivalent of a very strong nuc of bees, with a strong queen ready to lay eggs, which came through the last winter thriving without any treaments, and these "packages" of bees arrive free in your swarm boxes, year after year.
This is true provided that the swarm did in fact come from a feral colony.  If you catch a swarm from another beekeeper, or worse an abscond from another beekeeper, the results will of course vary.  I caught a swarm last spring that literally just sat in the box.  The queen barely laid, the bees didn't draw, and they were extremely lethargic.  I ended up euthanizing them.  Swarms are great, don't get me wrong; free bees are always good, but depending on your location the quality of swarms will vary greatly, and I look at them as a roll of the dice.  Some will be great, some won't.   
I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.

Offline minz

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Re: Planning for year two
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2020, 01:01:50 pm »
Treatment free or Organic? About the end of the month when we go into a broodless period I hit them with an Oxalic acid dribble. It is a treatment but organic. It may be a nice stepping stone for getting started without having to purchase bees every year.
Drawn comb is a critical resource for increasing hives or splitting, it is a factor is assumed by many experienced bee keepers that is the key for expansion. Even a small hive (2 frames of bees and a new queen) will build rapidly if they have it. Feed them sugar water and protein and start them in a nuc box (or in a swarm trap like Bob mentioned).
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Offline charentejohn

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Re: Planning for year two
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2020, 06:59:25 pm »
Hard to 'hold the line' and not treat, there is always that little voice that says just the once won't hurt.  I really struggle(d) with this as I was planning to do a treatment if I thought it was needed. Luckily my counts are around 20/day on a sticky board (30 at worst once) so I am sticking with no treatments, if they were much higher not sure what I would have done.  I was figuring one treatment to 'wean them off such things' then TF.
I had considerd powdered sugar dusting (misting in my case) but that would mean opening the hives and I would prefer not to.

So far so good for me but this is the end of my first year, bees arrived (5 frame nucs) in May and very active so I am hopeful.
I did a post on this where I considerd where my bees came from as they were local from people who treat with an oxalic/formic mix dribble, but only if needed.  They were done before I recieved them.
The upside is they are this year's queens so have only ever been treated once prior to May.  I figured these are as TF as I can get, for example the other half of the splits these came from had queens treated for a year previously.  I am pleased I found these and maybe you can find similar, worth asking a local supplier when and why they treat.  If they do the same and you can get similar queens with only one treatment done directly to them it is a start.
Other than buying actual TF bees this is as near as I can get.       
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Online Bob Wilson

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Re: Planning for year two
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2020, 11:53:16 pm »
Too true,  15Member.
One swarm I caught was of larger yellow bees. I am pretty sure it was from another apiary. Another swarm was little black bees, a feral swarm I believe. I gave that one away before I knew the value of it. I wished I had kept it.
Even so. I plan on catching several more this coming spring, if I can.

Offline charentejohn

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Re: Planning for year two
« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2020, 06:52:07 am »
Mine came from people who collect swarms so originally whatever is about, but then split later so drifting away from their roots, till now.
I have one of each, one lot brown(ish) and the other much darker tending to black.  They behave differently which is fascinating.
The brown ones are always more active and guards in summer were few.  The darker ones were busy in summer but are less active now, about 50% of the other hive's activity.  Probably they way they are set up to respond although weather is good now they are still being cautious.
As an example orientation flights this morning, brown about 40, black about 15.  They do all things in that ratio. 
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Online Acebird

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Re: Planning for year two
« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2020, 09:22:40 am »
My bee cut back greatly from summer activity.  They cut back so much I thought they were gone.  So I got out the mower and sure enough they are still there!
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Offline minz

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Re: Planning for year two
« Reply #15 on: November 08, 2020, 07:32:02 pm »
Hard to 'hold the line' and not treat, there is always that little voice that says just the once won't hurt.  I really struggle(d) with this as I was planning to do a treatment if I thought it was needed. .


Other than buying actual TF bees this is as near as I can get.       
If you are more interested in bees than honey take a look at mite reproductive cycle. Sounds like you are monitoring so when you get to your threshold pull your queen with a frame or two of brood. (next year not now) The mites need open brood. The original hive will start to make another queen and since no more open brood through the cycle they will decrease. If the queen does not come back mated give them another frame of open brood. (you have to be careful not to collapse your little nuc, you may have to do a newspaper combine back again).
https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5994976fc534a540838f3351/t/5ef68d72fe2e3739fd91f738/1593216391684/BrandonCaging.pdf
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Offline charentejohn

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Re: Planning for year two
« Reply #16 on: November 09, 2020, 04:26:15 pm »
Thanks for the idea, some may consider it but for me manipulating brood is just intervention which I am trying to avoid.  My Warres have top bars but they are not frames so not easy to manipulate, this is intentional as I want them to 'free form' comb.
Opening the hive just loses all the hive scents and such they have built up.  Manipulating to slow varroa is not helping them as they need to be able to deal with it on their own.  That is part of my 'holding the line' comment that it isn't easy to do.  Just a couple of manipulations, just a bit of chemical treatment, won't hurt will it ?  For me TF means TTF totally treatment free, oxalic and formic may be organic but still stop them from developing properly themselves.

I was just thinking about the idea of buying, as I did, local bees that have had a treatment.  Even if they have had a few treatments I think it is worth giving them a chance to recover.  I considered that people say they won't survive without treatments, yet lots swarm and go off into the wild and survive.  If that was not true then once treated for a couple of years all swarming bees are doomed to die, but they don't.  Some do, but then some do anyway.
 
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Online Bob Wilson

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Re: Planning for year two
« Reply #17 on: November 11, 2020, 11:45:41 pm »
Charentejohn. By TTF hives, it sounds like you mean to not open the hives at all... for inspection, for moving comb, etc. Does that mean you are leaving the hives completely untouched except when you want honey?

Offline charentejohn

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Re: Planning for year two
« Reply #18 on: November 13, 2020, 12:01:13 pm »
Yes, that's the plan.   :smile:  I am working on the idea that I shouldn't need to do anything as they can manage themselves.
I have considered taking honey but it is a low priority, if I do it will be just a few pounds/kg for my own use.  Currently the hives have dadant to warre adapters on and next year I will remove them to leave 3 box high warre hives.  Depending on how they do I may takes some honey the year after that.
I would rather they considered swarming next year (their choice) or but definitely want then to swarm the year after that, good for their general health.

A neighbour has a few hives like this, his are dadant and he does take honey but his oldest brood box has been unmolested for 7yrs. No treatments and no moved frames, they just do as they like and have been constantly occupied.  He just adds/removes supers and the rest is up to them, he lets them swarm and tries to catch them and always has more bees than he needs so is able to sell swarms.  Nice setup and shows what is possible.
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Online Bob Wilson

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Re: Planning for year two
« Reply #19 on: November 13, 2020, 04:36:07 pm »
I assume you are in a country, rural area. I tend to think that keeping bees in a neighborhood, such as I am in, we would keep them away from neighborhood walkways, make sure they have water instead of our neighbor's pools, and keep them from swarming into our neighbor's attics and eaves.