Welcome, Guest

Author Topic: I Have Too Many Bees  (Read 1507 times)

Online The15thMember

  • Global Moderator
  • Galactic Bee
  • *******
  • Posts: 4692
  • Gender: Female
  • Traveler of the Multiverse, Seeker of Knowledge
I Have Too Many Bees
« on: May 08, 2024, 12:19:46 am »
Well, the hour is upon me.  In my sixth spring I've finally reached the point where I just have too many bees and am not sure what to do about it.  As I mentioned on some other threads, the blackberry flow finally kicked in after a nectar-less early spring, and I went from 3-4 box hives to 6 box hives today.  Several things are different this spring that brought this to a head.  Firstly, I've reached the number of hives that I want, which is 10, so I don't really want to split any more colonies for increase, which is what I've done at this stage (or actually before it) in past years.  Secondly, I came into this season with a prodigious amount of drawn comb, about a third of which had some honey and pollen in it, which meant that even though my early spring flow was very weak, the colonies were able to grow pretty rapidly because I was able to give them drawn comb and emergency stores, and the ones that came out of winter strong actually built up faster than normal. 

My problem mostly lies in the fact that I use 8-frame mediums, so I have to add boxes rapidly, and at 6 boxes the hives are basically as tall as I can manage.  I'm 5' 7" and at 7 boxes tall the top box would be above eye height for me.  But at the rate the bees are bringing in nectar, they are going to need more room before the blackberry flow is over. 

I can't split and keep all the colonies I'd create, I don't have the space or desire for more.  If the colonies swarm the same applies, I can't/don't want to catch and keep all the swarms, but letting them fly off just feels like a waste.  I can prevent them from swarming by continuing to open the brood nest, but if I do so, the hives will get too high for me to work.  And I'd like to keep them from swarming because they'll put up a ton of honey, but the way things are stacking up (pun intended), I also can't add more supers or the hives will be too tall.  What should I do?     

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 Michael Bush

  • Universal Bee
  • *******
  • Posts: 20013
  • Gender: Male
    • bushfarms.com
Re: I Have Too Many Bees
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2024, 05:26:55 am »
> I just have too many bees

Impossible.  That's a contradiction in terms. 

If they are too tall, you can harvest, or you can split them.  You'll get more honey if you don't split them and apparently you don't want to anyway.  So it seems you'd be better off harvesting.

There is also the option of a ladder... but it comes with it's own set of problems.  Basically you have to lift the full super over you head to walk down the ladder with it.

Another thing is move to a top entrance and make your stand just 3-1/2" tall.  That's what I do.
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm en espanol: bushfarms.com/es_bees.htm  auf deutsche: bushfarms.com/de_bees.htm  em portugues:  bushfarms.com/pt_bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
-------------------
"Everything works if you let it."--James "Big Boy" Medlin

Online Bill Murray

  • Field Bee
  • ***
  • Posts: 525
  • Gender: Male
Re: I Have Too Many Bees
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2024, 08:49:11 am »
Ladder, or if you have the wooden-ware split then recombine later.

Online Terri Yaki

  • Super Bee
  • *****
  • Posts: 1878
  • Gender: Male
Re: I Have Too Many Bees
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2024, 09:33:44 am »
Have you considered selling some nucs or whole hives? In PA we can do that fairly easily. My mentor tells me that it is a matter just getting inspected and then you are licensed.

Online The15thMember

  • Global Moderator
  • Galactic Bee
  • *******
  • Posts: 4692
  • Gender: Female
  • Traveler of the Multiverse, Seeker of Knowledge
Re: I Have Too Many Bees
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2024, 01:14:53 pm »
Thanks for the replies, guys. 

If they are too tall, you can harvest, or you can split them.  You'll get more honey if you don't split them and apparently you don't want to anyway.  So it seems you'd be better off harvesting.
My concern is that in our humid climate, it takes bees long to cap honey.  I often have 3 supers on a hive and none are ready to be harvested because the first box isn't capped yet.  But we'll see how it goes.  The blackberry isn't as runny as the sourwood, so maybe it won't be a big issue, and perhaps I can reduce them when the dearth hits before sourwood.   

There is also the option of a ladder... but it comes with it's own set of problems.  Basically you have to lift the full super over you head to walk down the ladder with it.

Ladder
There is absolutely no way I can do this safely with a ladder.  Not only is that precarious under the best of circumstances, but the area around most of my hives is not level. 

if you have the wooden-ware split then recombine later.
I don't.  I don't even enough boxes for the flow if things keep going like this.  I'm going to have to get a few more, but I'd rather not invest in any more bottoms, tops, stands, etc.  I just don't want or need this operation to get any larger. 

Have you considered selling some nucs or whole hives? In PA we can do that fairly easily. My mentor tells me that it is a matter just getting inspected and then you are licensed.
I have, and I don't think you even have to be licensed in NC, but I'm just not really set up for it this season.  I'm also not sure about what is more economical, breaking the hives down and selling bees, or letting the hives get big and selling honey.  And if possible I'd like to try to manage the hives for honey production because I've never had the opportunity to focus on that before, I've always been mostly concerned with growth.   

I talked to my family about it, and what I'm going to do for now is just have my dad help me lift boxes down.  He's 6' 4" so I should be able to get to 7 or 8 boxes before he'd have trouble lifting them, and he's almost always outside working on something over the weekend when I typically do inspections.  That way I can just try letting the hives get big for this season and see what happens.  If it becomes unmanageable then I'll develop a plan to do things differently next season.       
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 Michael Bush

  • Universal Bee
  • *******
  • Posts: 20013
  • Gender: Male
    • bushfarms.com
Re: I Have Too Many Bees
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2024, 01:39:02 pm »
How high off the ground is the bottom box?  A short stand can buy you one or two boxes...
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm en espanol: bushfarms.com/es_bees.htm  auf deutsche: bushfarms.com/de_bees.htm  em portugues:  bushfarms.com/pt_bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
-------------------
"Everything works if you let it."--James "Big Boy" Medlin

Online The15thMember

  • Global Moderator
  • Galactic Bee
  • *******
  • Posts: 4692
  • Gender: Female
  • Traveler of the Multiverse, Seeker of Knowledge
Re: I Have Too Many Bees
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2024, 02:06:23 pm »
I just use two cinder blocks.  Some of my stands are partially buried in order to level them. 
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 Michael Bush

  • Universal Bee
  • *******
  • Posts: 20013
  • Gender: Male
    • bushfarms.com
Re: I Have Too Many Bees
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2024, 02:16:59 pm »
A cinder block is 8" tall.  A two by is 3-1/2" tall.  A medium box is 6-5/8" tall.  Basically if you drop it to 3-1/2" tall you'll gain one box.
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm en espanol: bushfarms.com/es_bees.htm  auf deutsche: bushfarms.com/de_bees.htm  em portugues:  bushfarms.com/pt_bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
-------------------
"Everything works if you let it."--James "Big Boy" Medlin

Online The15thMember

  • Global Moderator
  • Galactic Bee
  • *******
  • Posts: 4692
  • Gender: Female
  • Traveler of the Multiverse, Seeker of Knowledge
Re: I Have Too Many Bees
« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2024, 02:53:32 pm »
In my climate wood is not an option.  Even pressure treated lumber will only last a few years in contact with the ground.  But I could probably use half-height cinder blocks. 
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.

Online Terri Yaki

  • Super Bee
  • *****
  • Posts: 1878
  • Gender: Male
Re: I Have Too Many Bees
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2024, 02:57:31 pm »
In my climate wood is not an option.  Even pressure treated lumber will only last a few years in contact with the ground.  But I could probably use half-height cinder blocks.
Paver stones would work but they might be costly.

Offline Michael Bush

  • Universal Bee
  • *******
  • Posts: 20013
  • Gender: Male
    • bushfarms.com
Re: I Have Too Many Bees
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2024, 03:35:38 pm »
Yes, half height blocks are 4".  Pavers might be only 2".
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm en espanol: bushfarms.com/es_bees.htm  auf deutsche: bushfarms.com/de_bees.htm  em portugues:  bushfarms.com/pt_bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
-------------------
"Everything works if you let it."--James "Big Boy" Medlin

Online Ben Framed

  • Global Moderator
  • Universal Bee
  • *******
  • Posts: 13025
  • Mississippi Zone 7
Re: I Have Too Many Bees
« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2024, 05:06:53 pm »
Quote
My concern is that in our humid climate, it takes bees long to cap honey.  I often have 3 supers on a hive and none are ready to be harvested because the first box isn't capped yet.  But we'll see how it goes.  The blackberry isn't as runny as the sourwood, so maybe it won't be a big issue, and perhaps I can reduce them when the dearth hits before sourwood.   

Do you use a means of ventilating your hives to aid the bees with this humidity problem?
Matthew 10:16
16.
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

Online Ben Framed

  • Global Moderator
  • Universal Bee
  • *******
  • Posts: 13025
  • Mississippi Zone 7
Re: I Have Too Many Bees
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2024, 05:36:51 pm »
In my climate wood is not an option.  Even pressure treated lumber will only last a few years in contact with the ground.  But I could probably use half-height cinder blocks.

All pressure treated wood is not the same.. Yellawood?, pressure treated wood company was started by Jimmy Raines and brother, using only the best in chemicals and techniques for this purpose...

Guaranteed Protection
YellaWood? brand products carry a Lifetime Residential and Agricultural Limited Warranty against structural damage caused by fungal decay and termites for above ground, ground contact and fresh water contact applications.https://penlumber.com/brands/yellow-wood-treated-lumber/#:~:text=Guaranteed%20Protection,and%20fresh%20water%20contact%20applications.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2024, 09:19:09 am by Ben Framed »
Matthew 10:16
16.
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

Online The15thMember

  • Global Moderator
  • Galactic Bee
  • *******
  • Posts: 4692
  • Gender: Female
  • Traveler of the Multiverse, Seeker of Knowledge
Re: I Have Too Many Bees
« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2024, 07:20:51 pm »
Do you use a means of ventilating your hives to aid the bees with this humidity problem?
I have found that more ventilation is sometimes worse actually.  I'm still in the process of figuring out exactly how much is best for my situation, but I used screened bottoms and tops for several years, and I'm moving toward more solid bottoms and tops now, which seems to be helping with mold at least.  When it's extremely humid, it seems better to keep that ambient moisture out with less ventilation.

All pressure treated wood is not the same.. Yellawood?, pressure treated wood company was started by Jimmy Rains and brother using only the best in chemicals and techniques for this purpose...

Guaranteed Protection
YellaWood? brand products carry a Lifetime Residential and Agricultural Limited Warranty against structural damage caused by fungal decay and termites for above ground, ground contact and fresh water contact applications.https://penlumber.com/brands/yellow-wood-treated-lumber/#:~:text=Guaranteed%20Protection,and%20fresh%20water%20contact%20applications.
 
The question would be the price.  Cinder blocks are pretty cheap and wood has gotten so expensive. 
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.

Online Bill Murray

  • Field Bee
  • ***
  • Posts: 525
  • Gender: Male
Re: I Have Too Many Bees
« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2024, 09:36:05 pm »
Quote
I have found that more ventilation is sometimes worse actually.
Ive been saying that for years.

And I have the same problem this year Member. Every drawn super is on. Every undrawn super is on. I am out of Deep woodenware,Ive been moving the deep frames out and replacing as they were backfilling them,then stacking the deeps topside, the bees are bent on backfilling and not drawing, And the tallow just started coming in yesterday. Marley, her mother and I just got done discussing the situation. The problem is if the bees run out of room and swarm there wont be enough to dry and cap. Go figure. Its been an interesting start to the year to say the least. Who would ever think Id be complaining about an excess necter flow.

Online The15thMember

  • Global Moderator
  • Galactic Bee
  • *******
  • Posts: 4692
  • Gender: Female
  • Traveler of the Multiverse, Seeker of Knowledge
Re: I Have Too Many Bees
« Reply #15 on: May 08, 2024, 10:35:39 pm »
And I have the same problem this year Member. Every drawn super is on. Every undrawn super is on. I am out of Deep woodenware,Ive been moving the deep frames out and replacing as they were backfilling them,then stacking the deeps topside, the bees are bent on backfilling and not drawing, And the tallow just started coming in yesterday. Marley, her mother and I just got done discussing the situation. The problem is if the bees run out of room and swarm there wont be enough to dry and cap. Go figure. Its been an interesting start to the year to say the least. Who would ever think Id be complaining about an excess necter flow.
That's so weird, especially considering we're not geographically close enough for our flows to be linked.  Some of my hives are backfilling like crazy too. 
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.

Online Ben Framed

  • Global Moderator
  • Universal Bee
  • *******
  • Posts: 13025
  • Mississippi Zone 7
Re: I Have Too Many Bees
« Reply #16 on: May 09, 2024, 09:39:38 am »
Do you use a means of ventilating your hives to aid the bees with this humidity problem?
I have found that more ventilation is sometimes worse actually.  I'm still in the process of figuring out exactly how much is best for my situation, but I used screened bottoms and tops for several years, and I'm moving toward more solid bottoms and tops now, which seems to be helping with mold at least.  When it's extremely humid, it seems better to keep that ambient moisture out with less ventilation.

All pressure treated wood is not the same.. Yellawood?, pressure treated wood company was started by Jimmy Rains and brother using only the best in chemicals and techniques for this purpose...

Guaranteed Protection
YellaWood? brand products carry a Lifetime Residential and Agricultural Limited Warranty against structural damage caused by fungal decay and termites for above ground, ground contact and fresh water contact applications.https://penlumber.com/brands/yellow-wood-treated-lumber/#:~:text=Guaranteed%20Protection,and%20fresh%20water%20contact%20applications.
 
The question would be the price.  Cinder blocks are pretty cheap and wood has gotten so expensive.


> I have found that more ventilation is sometimes worse actually.

Tim Durham, a 'well known' and 'respected', life long successful commercial beekeeper, keeps bees in the Mississippi Delta and has discussed the 'importance' of ventilation. The Mississippi Delta is a hot, humid, sultry, miserable place to keep bees considering the 'dense' humidity. (There is a reason he works bees in short pants, and a rag tied around his head lol). Yet Tim has learned to overcome this problem 'with success' in that respect. He uses solid bottom boards, and only a pebble to allow the hot humid air which would be trapped in the hive to escape through the top by using a simple pebble between his top super and and hive lid....Thus eliminating the 'sauna' effect, allowing the honey a better chance to 'dry' and be capped. Just a side: Tim once lived in North Carolina, I have posted of his experience removing bees from Aunt Bs home, The Aunt 'Bee' of the Andy Griffith show, when he was a young man and beekeeper.

>The question would be the price.  Cinder blocks are pretty cheap and wood has gotten so expensive.

As far as Michael Bushs' suggestion of using treated 2X4s for our base and the reasons for it, the price at Home Depot of a 2X4X8 is $4.28. Cut into 16" lengths. (the length of a cinder block), will give you 6 base boards. I did not check the price of cinder blocks. 

I hope this helps.

Phillip





« Last Edit: May 09, 2024, 10:55:47 am by Ben Framed »
Matthew 10:16
16.
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

Online Bill Murray

  • Field Bee
  • ***
  • Posts: 525
  • Gender: Male
Re: I Have Too Many Bees
« Reply #17 on: May 09, 2024, 09:48:14 am »
Phillip, no convincing necessary,  I ran screened bottom boards when I first started,because I was told that was what to do in Florida. I actually still have quite a few I use every year temporarily in the spring for increases.

I found the solid bottom boards with an entrance reducer and an imirie shim on top of the hive to be the most effective at keeping the bearding to a minimum.

When I actually sat and thought it through it kinda made sense. the bees were consistently pulling huge amounts of 98 Deg. plus air with 98-100 percent humidity through the hive and trying to cool it. On a secondary note I also got consistently drier honey. (this isnt always the case because it has a lot to do amount of uncured nectar vs bees ) Just my personal observation, also living in a "hot, humid, sultry, miserable place to keep bees."

Online Ben Framed

  • Global Moderator
  • Universal Bee
  • *******
  • Posts: 13025
  • Mississippi Zone 7
Re: I Have Too Many Bees
« Reply #18 on: May 09, 2024, 10:02:24 am »
Yes Bill, a hive filled with wet nectar; With the humidity in the high 90s outside, can you imaging how humid the inside of the box is, poor bees working, fanning doing their best to dry the nectar enough to cap? It might be like trying to dry wet clothing and shoes in a sauna! lol.. I posted of Tims method of success for those who may have the problem that he faced as a beekeeper in such dire circumstances, and overcame with success. Perhaps Tims experience shared here, will help someone. 

Phillip
Matthew 10:16
16.
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

Online Bill Murray

  • Field Bee
  • ***
  • Posts: 525
  • Gender: Male
Re: I Have Too Many Bees
« Reply #19 on: May 09, 2024, 10:12:58 am »
 
Quote
poor bees working, fanning doing their best to dry the nectar

I had to chuckle at this, because it was exactly what I was thinking when tapping that last post out.