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Offline Guitarman

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Help I?m in trouble with my hive.
« on: April 22, 2023, 05:15:51 am »
Last spring here in Australia I caught a swarm in my backyard. From a neighbours hive who didn?t want or care about them. I did try to get him to take his bees but he is elderly and undergoing cancer treatment and said there yours you look after them. It was the 2 Nd swarm. The first one flew away overnight.

Now I?m not a beekeeper. Know nothing but I do have internet. I got 3 frames with foundation from a friend and grabbed a foam fruit box with lid  and made a temporary nuc box. Only got stung about 50 times in my hands cause the stingers went straight through my cotton gardening gloves. My friend assured me the swarm was placid as their bellies are full of honey.  But anyhow I got them in the box and they stayed.

I went and bought frames boxes excluders base lid and built a box over the following weeks/ months. Still no bee suit so I wasn?t in a hurry to open my temporary foam box. My hands were still swollen.

After a few months I opened the nuc box and they had been very busy. They had fused 2 frames together as I had left a gap and hadn?t pushed them tight against each other. The frames were full brood and honey but I couldn?t separate them for fear of killing the queen. I was going to run a sharp knife down before I thought better of it.

So I moved the 3 frames into a ten frame box. They have been going crazy all summer and me not being a beekeeper. Single dad with 4 kids and working full time. Just didn?t have a chance to put the super on as I hadn?t had time to melt the foundation onto the frames.

And now my Dilemma. I opened it today first time. The smell of honey was intense and I could see capped honey at the top. And all frames are fused together.  Not just the original 2 that I put in from the nuc.

Why? Because I bought cheap fake foundation on eBay. It?s not pure beeswax. So the bees rip it out. Throw it away. They then build essentially with no foundation and go all over the place. So I have all these frames fused together. Full of brood and honey and no way finding the queen.

It?s autumn now in Sydney. And I thought of ripping it apart and shaking the bees into another box but they would have to start again and it?s the wrong season from what I?ve read. I know they will swarm come spring but I can?t check for queen cells or anything with the labyrinth they built.

I really need some advice on what I should do.

When I tried to pull 2 frames apart, I was tearing the comb and honey was just running everywhere so I stopped.

Or do I go crazy rip it apart. Grab the honey. Kill lots of brood in process. Pray the queen survives the destruction and elastic band the salvageable comb into new frames. My worry is time of year. They need the food for winter. Will they make a new queen at this time of year if she gets squashed or will they perish. I?m too new at this and whilst I watched a lot of YouTube. I still have lots of confusion. Have no idea what to do.  Appreciate any advice or help.

Online NigelP

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Re: Help I?m in trouble with my hive.
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2023, 07:29:28 am »

I really need some advice on what I should do.


Try and find a local beekeeping association and join and ask for their advice. If they have any beekeeping courses attend.

Offline Acebird

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Re: Help I?m in trouble with my hive.
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2023, 08:51:18 am »
First you need equipment.  Then it sounds like you need time.  If you are pressed for time the only way out is buy equipment.
What you need:
Boxes, frames and foundation and maybe leather gloves and most important a smoker.
Question:
So is there 3 frames in a 10 frame box?
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Offline BeeMaster2

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Re: Help I?m in trouble with my hive.
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2023, 09:14:34 am »
Guitarman,
Being as you are entering your winter season, do nothing. Now is not the time to bee tearing your hive apart, especially since you do not have any experience doing a cut out.  I recommend that you find a local bee club and join it. Use the next 4 months to study up as much as you can before going into the hive. Beemaster has hundreds of thousands of post with a lot of good information. Search on JP the Beeman for great bee removal videos.
In beekeeping, a good rule is, if you don?t know what to do, do nothing. The bees know what to do.
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Re: Help I?m in trouble with my hive.
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2023, 11:21:14 am »
Welcome to Beemaster, Guitarman!  :happy:  I totally agree with everything Jim said.  As you are heading into winter, just leave them be until spring.  They have everything in the hive set up to their liking for winter, and the cross-comb isn't at all a problem for the bees, only for the keeper.  Over the winter, try and learn, learn, learn, as much as you can about beekeeping.  Read books, watch YouTube videos, and/or join your local bee club.  Don't just learn about beekeeping, learn about the bees themselves, their biology, their life history, their seasonal cycles in your area.  As Ace mentioned, get yourself some basic equipment and tools, so that you can easily work the colony, and try to watch videos of people doing hive inspections, or if the opportunity presents itself, inspect a hive with a local beekeeper, to learn how to manipulate the frames and work with the bees so they remain calm and don't sting.  Ask us any and all questions you may have along the way.

As you are clearly aware, you have jumped head first into this, without any experience, knowledge, or the tools to manage this situation.  I wouldn't just hand you a milk cow and expect you to know how to feed it, house it, care for it, and milk it if you have never had a milk cow before and didn't have a barn and a pasture where it could live and flourish.  The same goes for honey bees.  The only key difference is that, since they are not really domesticated, they should get along over the winter just fine by themselves, and by spring, you should be adequately prepared to manage the colony in a way that is beneficial for both you and the bees. 
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 Lesgold

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Re: Help I?m in trouble with my hive.
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2023, 06:40:47 pm »
Welcome Guitarman. All good advice given in the above posts. As you live in Sydney, you should have some time to deal with this issue if you want to. It basically depends on where you live. If you are in western Sydney and you experience cold winter nights, follow Jim?s advice and wait until close to spring. August would be a good time to begin inspections and start taking action to correct the problem. September may be too late. If you live close to the coast, the bees will slow down a little but will keep working through the winter. They may even produce a surplus of honey if there is anything flowering through that time. If that situation occurs, you will have major problems. Pop into one of the beekeeping supply shops such as Iwoohoo if you live out near Campbeltown or Hornsby Beekeeping and ask for some advice. They will sell you a suit and smoker and offer advice as to people who maybe able to help you. You really need someone to help you with this issue if you want to reduce your chances of failure. From what you have said, it sounds like you have a lot of cross comb where the bees have formed comb that runs diagonally across a number of frames. If that is the problem, you will end up losing a bit of comb, honey and brood as you correct the issue. If you do want to correct some of this issue now and without help, I would make sure that you have a suit on, smoke the bees by putting about 3 or 4 puffs of smoke towards the entrance of the hive. Keep the smoker about a foot away from the hive as you do this. Wait about 30 seconds and open the lid of the hive. Use a hive tool, chisel or a screwdriver to lift one corner of the lid. When the lid is hinged up a couple of inches, put a couple of extra puffs of smoke across the top of the frames. Remove the lid and place it in a safe place close to the hive with the lid inverted. You should now be ready to start work. As you are new to beekeeping and this job could be messy, put on some rubber dishwashing gloves and get one of your kids to run some tape around the ends of the gloves. Using a long, thin knife, cut the comb around one outside frame only. Move slowly and carefully. Remove this frame and gently shake most of the bees back into the hive. If you have a bee brush, use it to slowly and carefully remove the majority of the bees from the comb. At this stage you will have honey dripping everywhere, bees caught up in the honey and comb all over the place. Cut some of the comb back, remove comb that is crooked and twist some comb to get it to sit straight on the frame. Have a container with a lid handy to drop the cut comb and surplus honey into. You may have to use rubber bands to keep some of the comb straight and in place. When you have done this, turn the frame through 180 degrees and pop it back into the hive. Close up the hive and walk away. Being the outside frame, there will be fewer bees on it and the queen should be in deeper towards the centre of the hive. The bees will clean up the surplus honey overnight and the frame will be clean by the next morning. Leave the bees for a week and then check your handy work. If you are happy with the outcome, you could try the outside frame on the opposite side. If you are not happy with the result, get someone into help you. Progressively attacking frames towards the centre will upset brood and also put the queen at risk. The centre of the hive could be cleaned up in spring when the bees have the opportunity to replace the queen if she is accidentally killed. Don?t try to clean up too many frames at once. Small hive beetle in your area would be an issue. You need the hive to remain strong and issues such as honey, exposed and damaged frames with diminished bee numbers is a recipe for disaster. Good luck with the project. If I were in your situation, I would get an experienced beekeeper to help with the issue. Don?t forget to register your hive with the Department of Primary Industries and follow their requests in relation to hive management and record keeping.

Cheers

Les

Online Ben Framed

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Re: Help I?m in trouble with my hive.
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2023, 07:31:26 pm »
Hi Guitarman,
Welcome to Beemaster Forums! I trust the good advice given by the previous responses has helped you in laying out a plan which will lead to fixing the trouble in your hive. As you have found we are always glad to help. 

Phillip
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Re: Help I?m in trouble with my hive.
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2023, 08:20:35 pm »
Welcome Guitarman. All good advice given in the above posts. As you live in Sydney, you should have some time to deal with this issue if you want to. It basically depends on where you live. If you are in western Sydney and you experience cold winter nights, follow Jim?s advice and wait until close to spring. August would be a good time to begin inspections and start taking action to correct the problem. September may be too late. If you live close to the coast, the bees will slow down a little but will keep working through the winter. They may even produce a surplus of honey if there is anything flowering through that time. If that situation occurs, you will have major problems. Pop into one of the beekeeping supply shops such as Iwoohoo if you live out near Campbeltown or Hornsby Beekeeping and ask for some advice. They will sell you a suit and smoker and offer advice as to people who maybe able to help you. You really need someone to help you with this issue if you want to reduce your chances of failure. From what you have said, it sounds like you have a lot of cross comb where the bees have formed comb that runs diagonally across a number of frames. If that is the problem, you will end up losing a bit of comb, honey and brood as you correct the issue. If you do want to correct some of this issue now and without help, I would make sure that you have a suit on, smoke the bees by putting about 3 or 4 puffs of smoke towards the entrance of the hive. Keep the smoker about a foot away from the hive as you do this. Wait about 30 seconds and open the lid of the hive. Use a hive tool, chisel or a screwdriver to lift one corner of the lid. When the lid is hinged up a couple of inches, put a couple of extra puffs of smoke across the top of the frames. Remove the lid and place it in a safe place close to the hive with the lid inverted. You should now be ready to start work. As you are new to beekeeping and this job could be messy, put on some rubber dishwashing gloves and get one of your kids to run some tape around the ends of the gloves. Using a long, thin knife, cut the comb around one outside frame only. Move slowly and carefully. Remove this frame and gently shake most of the bees back into the hive. If you have a bee brush, use it to slowly and carefully remove the majority of the bees from the comb. At this stage you will have honey dripping everywhere, bees caught up in the honey and comb all over the place. Cut some of the comb back, remove comb that is crooked and twist some comb to get it to sit straight on the frame. Have a container with a lid handy to drop the cut comb and surplus honey into. You may have to use rubber bands to keep some of the comb straight and in place. When you have done this, turn the frame through 180 degrees and pop it back into the hive. Close up the hive and walk away. Being the outside frame, there will be fewer bees on it and the queen should be in deeper towards the centre of the hive. The bees will clean up the surplus honey overnight and the frame will be clean by the next morning. Leave the bees for a week and then check your handy work. If you are happy with the outcome, you could try the outside frame on the opposite side. If you are not happy with the result, get someone into help you. Progressively attacking frames towards the centre will upset brood and also put the queen at risk. The centre of the hive could be cleaned up in spring when the bees have the opportunity to replace the queen if she is accidentally killed. Don?t try to clean up too many frames at once. Small hive beetle in your area would be an issue. You need the hive to remain strong and issues such as honey, exposed and damaged frames with diminished bee numbers is a recipe for disaster. Good luck with the project. If I were in your situation, I would get an experienced beekeeper to help with the issue. Don?t forget to register your hive with the Department of Primary Industries and follow their requests in relation to hive management and record keeping.

Cheers

Les
Guitarman, as Les is by far closest to where you live (the rest of us aren't even in your hemisphere!), his advice is what you should heed most closely. 
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 Acebird

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Re: Help I?m in trouble with my hive.
« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2023, 08:38:16 am »
Still would like to know how many frames there are.
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Offline Guitarman

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Re: Help I?m in trouble with my hive.
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2023, 12:35:02 am »
Sorry for the delay. I have 9 frames in the 10 frame box. The temp nuc I made when I originally caught them, they cross combed 2 frames cause I left a large gap. So I put those 2 in the 10 frame box and another 7 frames.

Les I bought the frames boxes etc from Iwoohoo at Campbelltown. I bought lots. I have 3 boxes and 40 frames in total. One lid and base. The base is the mesh bottom one with a draw. Also bought a queen excluder. I pull out draw and squash the hive beetles. Found lots of watery like honey in the bottom today. Too thin for honey.

I?m new to beekeeping yes. I have a veil on a hat. My motorcycle gloves and long clothes and lots tape. That?s how I checked them the other day. I have a patio weeding tool which is working ok as a hive tool.  I was given an ancient hand spinner 2 frame,galvanised a smoker and the veil by a friend who knows nothing about bees but inherited the bee stuff.

Yesterday I ordered online a bee suit, brush, hive tools various and bee gloves. Should he here soon. Will attach some pictures as soon as I can work out how to reduce their size.

And thank you so much everyone. I really appreciate your help.

The local beekeeping courses are far too expensive for me.  I did look into them. I?m a fast learner but sometimes no matter how much you read, things don?t make sense. An example is bees from another colony get attacked if they go into another hive or so I thought. But I watch guys on YouTube shake bees from one hive into another if they need numbers. My brain goes won?t they just have a massive fight and kill each other.  Some things just don?t make sense to me. Or they split a hive. My brain goes the bees will just leave and go back to the queen. Why would they stay. I know I have lots to learn before things fall into place and start becoming logical.

Try and get some pictures uploaded.


Online Ben Framed

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Re: Help I?m in trouble with my hive.
« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2023, 01:56:42 am »
Quote
Found lots of watery like honey in the bottom today. Too thin for honey.

Mmm; Are you finding a lot of Small Hive Beetles in your hive? Since you do not know much about bees (yet), You really need a mentor to help you out since you have bees but no education of them. You need a lot of studying and reading as well.. For a crash course of education, I recommend you logging into Michael Bushes 'link'.
http://bushfarms.com/bees.htm

Phillip
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14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Online Michael Bush

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Re: Help I?m in trouble with my hive.
« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2023, 06:41:54 am »
Beekeeping is a lot more art that science.  You can often combine bees with no fighting if you understand the "mindset" of the bees.  Generally nurse bees don't fight so if you shake bees off of brood combs they are mostly nurse bees and so they probably won't fight. A weak hive combined with a weak hive will almost never fight.  Three weak hives combined are even less likely to.  If circumstances don't seem to point to any of these scenarios you can always do a newspaper combine.  A lot of smoke makes a difference as well.  That's just the issue of combining.  There are lot's of other issues that are just as complex.
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
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Offline Guitarman

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Re: Help I?m in trouble with my hive.
« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2023, 07:23:41 am »
Thanks Phillip and Michael.

Hive beetles. About 5 when I slide out the tray.  I just squash them. I need to put lime I?ve read somewhere in the tray to kill them. Are they causing the watery liquid to be in the tray or is it me ripping comb when I tried to pull cross combed frame out?

Thanks for explaining that to me Michael. I have engineering degree and am very practical but sometimes that can interfere with the arty side of your brain and the science blinds you. Sometimes things are grey. Not black or white.

Les I really appreciate your thoughts and will remove an edge frame that isn?t too badly locked in with cross comb. It?s only half built and I can easily run a knife and separate it. Will remove cross comb and turn 180 as you said. That?s one free I should get. Only 8 more to go. Not so sure I will be able to do any others but will investigate when my suit arrives.


Online Michael Bush

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Re: Help I?m in trouble with my hive.
« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2023, 07:29:09 am »
As long as you don't see small hive beetle larvae you're fine.  If you see larvae, the bees are in trouble.  The way to avoid that trouble is don't let the density of bees get too low.
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
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Offline Guitarman

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Re: Help I?m in trouble with my hive.
« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2023, 07:45:50 am »
Ok figured out the pic thing. Might increase resolution. This is my one and only. Hive. My spare boxes and frames.

Les this is the view from my balcony. I circled the gum tree  which is full of white eucalyptus flower. I know my bees are still working hard in autumn  bringing in a lot. I?m in close to the Coast and get sea breezes. That?s Botany Bay in pics. I?m located In Sutherland shire. Bees are very busy still. That tree is keeping them busy and there?s probably more.

If you think I still have time to maybe separate a few frames, appreciate your thoughts.

Thanks Michael will google what they look like so I know what I?m looking for but no larvae spotted yet. The hive is very active so I?m guessing any uninvited guests will be quickly dealt with.


Online Ben Framed

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Re: Help I?m in trouble with my hive.
« Reply #15 on: April 25, 2023, 08:06:05 am »
As long as you don't see small hive beetle larvae you're fine.  If you see larvae, the bees are in trouble.  The way to avoid that trouble is don't let the density of bees get too low.

And when larvae is present you will soon find watery like honey in the bottom, too thin for honey along with honey frames that look shiny, or wet. This is where you will find SHB larvae in abundance. The way to know for sure is inspect the honey frames themselves. This is the reason I suggested a mentor to come in and help you, and I will add asap.

Phillip
2 Chronicles 7:14
14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Online Michael Bush

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Re: Help I?m in trouble with my hive.
« Reply #16 on: April 25, 2023, 08:11:28 am »
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
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Online Ben Framed

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Re: Help I?m in trouble with my hive.
« Reply #17 on: April 25, 2023, 08:14:43 am »
Yep, Good picture Michael.
Guitarman you would also find some of the fallen larvae in the bottom.  If so and you look closely there will be a powdery looking substance on the bottom tray, and beneath this 'powder', (finely ground up wax), will be where larvae hides. At these points the hive is in critical condition. (Michaels picture and the latter described). The larvae is very small.

Phillip
« Last Edit: April 25, 2023, 08:25:15 am by Ben Framed »
2 Chronicles 7:14
14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Offline BeeMaster2

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Re: Help I?m in trouble with my hive.
« Reply #18 on: April 25, 2023, 08:28:40 am »
Guitarman,
The water you saw in the bottom is probably from rain or condensation. If it is condensation, I recommend that you add foam board insulation to the underside of the lid. It will also minimize bearding.
The picture Michael post below shows small hive beetle larvae on the frame.
Jim Altmiller
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Re: Help I?m in trouble with my hive.
« Reply #19 on: April 25, 2023, 08:31:22 am »
Guitarman,
The water you saw in the bottom is probably from rain or condensation. If it is condensation, I recommend that you add foam board insulation to the underside of the lid. It will also minimize bearding.
The picture Michael post below shows small hive beetle larvae on the frame.
Jim Altmiller

A very good chance you are right Jim and I hope so. He desperately needs bee-education. Again I suggest Michaels' link for a 'quick start' in honeybee knowledge.. Good stuff there and to the point... Any questions he can ask here and the archives are a treasure trove of information as you have mentioned earlier.

I am happy that Guitarman, a new beekeeper, chose to join us here at Beemaster . The same reason I joined Beemaster a few years ago, (bee-education) and support, and I am so glad I did. I knew almost nothing about bees lol.. And I still have plenty more to learn may I add!

Phillip
2 Chronicles 7:14
14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

 

anything