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Warre Hive.. bad Newbie start? 1 week old hive w/ pictures

 
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NetComrade
Nurse Bee


Joined: 21 Apr 2014
Posts: 36
Location: Paw Paw, WV, USA

PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2014 6:38 pm    Post subject: Warre Hive.. bad Newbie start? 1 week old hive w/ pictures Reply with quote

Bought a warre hive from ebay made from cedar
Managed to find packaged bees locally
Installed them last Monday. Panickly opened the wrong end of the Queen cage (one without sugar cork). I doubt she ran away (it was cold that day), but I didn't even verify if she was alive at the time (should have worn gloves!).

Thought I'd feed them via a "baggie" method, but since I was also given a pollen patty, gave them a square bucket with a floating piece of wood w/ drilled holes to feed themselves. Put the feeder (1:1 water:sugar) and sliced the patty in the top box w/o the frames.

Did not have any wax starter trips, but I did rub top bars with organic bees wax I got off amazon (Item: B00455IWK6 . forum won't let me post links)

Opened up the hive this Sunday between 4-5pm. It was still very warm and sunny (70's or upper 60's). The vast majority of the bees were hanging off the roof. Bees started building honeycomb on the side of the "feeder" box AND on top of the 'feeder'. I did observe some of them foraging earlier, and saw bringing pollen (yellow rear feet). The rest were either just hanging out, or I couldn't spot the pollen. Also, bees would awkwardly "roll out" of the hive, and often "flip" as they did that, as if the entrance was no good for them. I found a number of them larger, I think they were drones. They were also hanging out by the enterance, although more so on Sat than on Sun.

Moved the feeder down to the floor.. put pieces of pollen patty on it (bees ate all the sugar, but didn't seem to be eating the patty, so I took pieces out of the back), broke a piece of comb together with feeder. The comb looked mostly empty. Put a few top bars with spacing best I could, as my top box didn't have the nails in it (as I planned on using it for feeding only). Essentially it's now a 3 box hive, with the top one being in weird shape.

So questions are
a) how do I verify if I have a queen?
b) how bad is it to have the feeder all the way at the bottom? (I am in the woods. Have mason bees, doubt many honey bees around)
c) how do I make sure the bees use top bars for honey comb build?
d) why are so many bees not foraging for pollen? I estimate 80% is just sitting there.
e) is it a good idea to just add a feeder into the quilt, and not use burlap for worry they attach comb to it (i did not use starch on it like was suggested on this site)

I built another hive, and expect to pickup another package in 2 weeks. If you can help me confirm I am queenless, I can either
I) buy a queen (those are delivered weekly around here)
II) combine two packages into one

My plans are different for new hive
1) use quick feeder on top of the quilt, and built support to it (avoi
2) have brush to I kill fewer bees on the edges
3) maybe get those wax starter strips
4) maybe get frames for warre

pictures will be added shortly. I am leaving them in hi-res. Let me know what the best method should be and I will edit.

Link to DropBox Folder (removed image links from forum)
https://www.dropbox.com/photos/album/8wvNmSOcOxhJ1Tr

Day before. "Norman" behavior. I thought this was "bee poop" on the walls, now it looks like bee stings..
P1030004.JPG

Already removed "feeder"
P1030006.JPG

Bees attached to the quilt.. Why aren't they "working"?
A: They're producing Heat (Thank you!)
P1030007.JPG

Broken off piece of comb and feeder.
P1030008.JPG
A: Recommend I attach back the comb

Traces of comb on quilt
P1030010.JPG

Picture of comb. 5-6 day old hive (2 of them were cold)
P1030011.JPG


Last edited by NetComrade on Mon Apr 21, 2014 8:56 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1564
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2014 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi and welcome

Sounds like you have had a bit of a rough start, mostly down to either panic, lack of planning or lack of knowledge, but it sounds like you are getting things back on track.

In a bit of a rush at the moment but will answer a couple of points and perhaps others will jump in with anything I didn't cover.

Bees need heat to build wax. They cluster together to generate heat. That is why 80% are just sitting there! They can't raise brood or store honey until they build comb to put it in, so that is the first job in a new hive. They will build from the top down, which in your case was the feeder box. Just because you have made boxes for particular purposes, don't expect the bees to read your mind and work to your plan. They start work at the top because heat rises. They need heat to work wax, so it makes sense to start at the top and build downwards.

Pollen going in usually indicates that the queen has started laying so that is a good sign. I would imagine that "empty comb" probably has tiny eggs in the bottom of each cell. White eggs in pristine white comb is pretty hard to see. If you haven't attached it to one of the top bars you put in the feeder area then get a magnifying glass and have a close look and you should see eggs. That will confirm that your queen is alive and laying, but the pollen intake is a good indicator. It will help them to follow the bars if you can attach the broken comb to a bar and put it back in for them if you haven't already done so, but it looks from the photo that it is lying on the ground.

If you are going to feed above then you need to ensure that they can only access the feeder and not the whole box, so you need to blank the area around the feeder to stop the bees getting access to the rest of the box.

Having the feeder near the entrance does risk it being robbed and I would be inclined to reduce the entrance or place a robber screen in front to try to prevent this.

Good luck with the next package. The thing with beekeeping is that you learn most from your mistakes, so welcome to the big learning curve.

Best wishes

Barbara
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stevecook172001
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Joined: 19 Jul 2013
Posts: 443
Location: Loftus, Cleveland

PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2014 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi netcomrade and welcome.

It would help if your pictures were a bit smaller as they cause the text of the message to carry on to the right as far as the picture extends, instead of wrapping to a new line at the edge of the normal screen display, In other words, the width of your pictures should ideally be no more than the width of a typical screen resolution. I would guess if you resized your pictures down by half, it would be sufficient to fix it. But don't worry if you can't do it on this occasion.
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NetComrade
Nurse Bee


Joined: 21 Apr 2014
Posts: 36
Location: Paw Paw, WV, USA

PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2014 8:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I replaced pictures with a link to Album on DropBox folder
I wanted to make them available in high resolution.
I did leave my comments.
I put the comb back in, but I did not attach it. How would I attach it to a top bar? Just regular string?
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NetComrade
Nurse Bee


Joined: 21 Apr 2014
Posts: 36
Location: Paw Paw, WV, USA

PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2014 9:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbara wrote:
Hi and welcome

If you are going to feed above then you need to ensure that they can only access the feeder and not the whole box, so you need to blank the area around the feeder to stop the bees getting access to the rest of the box.



Thanks for the response.
Are there any drawbacks with blocking the entrance? If a small one is good, why do they make it so big to begin with? I hear and see a lot of entrances blocked.

I plan on installing the following feeder into the available quilt, and replacing the quilt. is that an OK idea?




How much time do I have to put the broken piece of comb back on? It was at the bottom of the comb they built?

how does that go with "minimum disturbance".

I seem to squeesh way too many bees whenever I open it up no matter how hard I try. It's like playing whack-a-mole.
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1564
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi again.

I personally don't like the feeder in the image as I have seen quite a lot of bees drown in them. My preference is an upturned jar or plastic bucket with a perforated or mesh panel lid.... or the container with the float that you now have in the bottom, but the difficulty with that is allowing them access just to it and not the whole feeder box. The upturned jar or bucket can be put directly on top of the bars where the bees are building as long as you cover the surrounding area to prevent the bees getting into the feeder box. Make sure you invert the bucket/jar over a container before placing it over the bees as there will be some leakage as you invert it, before the vacuum holds the remaining liquid in. You don't want to tip it straight over your bees and drown them.

As regards attaching the comb, there are various options. Plastic cable ties, masking tape, ladies hair clasps, elastic bands or as you say, string. The bees will almost certainly have fastened it to the top bars of the box underneath by now. It's up to you to decide whether it is worth the disruption to recover it or not. It will make separating the boxes and examining the colony a bit more difficult in the future but you don't want to disrupt this young colony too much and risk them absconding, so it might be best just to leave them to it now.
I was struggling to figure out what was going on in the photos because they were so large and I mistakenly thought the comb had been left lying on the ground outside the hive. It was also difficult to gauge the size of it as to whether it was worth recovering and attaching.

Anyway, it is a piece of knowledge that hopefully you will retain for next time. Unfortunately squashing the odd bee is inevitable. There is something called the beekeepers shuffle where you lower the box to almost on top of the other and then slowly move it slightly from side to side as you lower it the final half inch. Or.... you put the top box down on top of the one below at an angle and then gently rotate it into line. Smoking or spraying the bees with water in the box below before you start the manoeuvre will encourage them to get their heads down and help clear the deck. It might be helpful if you joined a local association or watched some You Tube footage to get some ideas on how to handle bees and hives, as trying to explain it in words is difficult.

Anyway, well done so far. We have all made mistakes, so don't be disheartened. The thing to do is learn from it and try not to make the same mistake twice.

Regards

Barbara

PS. The marks on the outside of the hive are most likely poop. How long were they in the package before you hived them? It is unusual for them to soil the outside of the hive to that extent unless they are desperate and have been confined for some time.
Just to confirm, you are using white granular sugar and water to make the syrup? Brown sugar is believed to give them dysentery and that might cause them to get caught short. The important thing to watch for is that they don't soil inside the hive.
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1564
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just had a look at the reduced size photos in dropbox and now have a much better understanding of what things look like.

Can you confirm that you put two more top bars above those two combs they had built to the side of the feeder box. If not, they will reattach them to the hessian in the quilt and that will cause you more problems, so that really is important to sort in my opinion. The other problem I foresee is that if those top bars are not nailed down in that top box then the bees will propolise them to the hessian quilt and perhaps cause them to lift and break away from the comb when you lift the quilt. I'm no expert on Warre hives, so it may be that this doesn't happen, but I know that frames in conventional hives can get propolised to the crown board if the bee space is not maintained and that will result in the frames coming up with the crown board when it is lifted. Propolis is such terrible sticky stuff!
Hopefully someone with more experience of Warre hives will jump in here and tell me that I'm wrong and it doesn't happen in a Warre for whatever reason..... perhaps there is a separate hessian cover before the hessian in the base of the quilt?
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NetComrade
Nurse Bee


Joined: 21 Apr 2014
Posts: 36
Location: Paw Paw, WV, USA

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 12:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbara wrote:
Just had a look at the reduced size photos in dropbox and now have a much better understanding of what things look like.

Can you confirm that you put two more top bars above those two combs they had built to the side of the feeder box. If not, they will reattach them to the hessian in the quilt and that will cause you more problems, so that really is important to sort in my opinion. The other problem I foresee is that if those top bars are not nailed down in that top box then the bees will propolise them to the hessian quilt and perhaps cause them to lift and break away from the comb when you lift the quilt. I'm no expert on Warre hives, so it may be that this doesn't happen, but I know that frames in conventional hives can get propolised to the crown board if the bee space is not maintained and that will result in the frames coming up with the crown board when it is lifted. Propolis is such terrible sticky stuff!
Hopefully someone with more experience of Warre hives will jump in here and tell me that I'm wrong and it doesn't happen in a Warre for whatever reason..... perhaps there is a separate hessian cover before the hessian in the base of the quilt?


Thanks Barbara, looks like I need to do the following (paragraph below) asap. I think I also missed that it is a separate piece of material from the quilt.. probably mainly because it didn't come with the warre kit. I also need to put additional bars as you mentioned.

http://warre.biobees.com/methods.htm

Quote:
The top-bar cloth
This rests on the top-bars under the quilt. A separate cloth retains the quilt contents. Warré suggests using sacking (hessian/burlap, a rough cloth of jute) and treating it with a flour paste to prevent the bees from fraying it. This cloth can be obtained from pet shops or coffee shops that still receive whole beans in sacks. Instead, a number of Warré beekeepers have successfully used coarse cotton canvas (e.g. sailcloth) without applying any paste. This has the slight disadvantage that there are no small holes in it that the bees can propolise or unpropolise to control ventilation.


http://www.dheaf.plus.com/warrebeekeeping/preparing_hessian.htm

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NetComrade
Nurse Bee


Joined: 21 Apr 2014
Posts: 36
Location: Paw Paw, WV, USA

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 3:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbara, in response to your previous message (didn't quote)

I left the can that was in the package outside of the hive as alternative feeder, and that leaked. So I am not as confident as you're in the vacuum effect, and afraid to have the sugary liquid all over the hive. Also, I am not sure if you can move it w/o spilling it.

Will attach comb if they didn't do anything in it. It's at the bottom box right now. I really should have thought of attaching it when I was working on the hive, especially as towards the end of my session bees have calmed down significantly. The broken off piece is something like 2x2.

I will try the "beekepers shuffle" and watch some youtubes. I haven't been successful in joining a local association yet.

Comfirming I used white sugar.

I do not know how long they were in the package, but the feeder can was nearly full judging by weight. They were forced to hang out in the hive after I put them in for an extra 2 days or so by bad (cold) weather.

Thanks for the encouragement, help, and other explanations.
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Barbara
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The problem with putting a feeder like that outside the hive is that it is exposed to fluctuations in temperature which causes the air in the top to expand and contract, forcing the liquid out and then sucking air in. The more air inside the more it is prone to leak due to expansion. Inside the hive the temperature should be more stable and therefore that shouldn't happen. Also, it depends on the viscosity of the syrup and the size of the holes. If you are using 1:1 syrup then you want fewer smaller holes, so that the bees have to more or less suck it out. I'm not familiar with packages, so I don't know how the can feeders are made.
Anyway, I understand your concerns and you have to go with your own gut feeling a lot of the time in beekeeping as instinct is an important attribute.

I'm pleased you figured out that a separate hessian cover was required. I vaguely remembered reading something about coating it in flour paste but couldn't recall if that was the quilt base or something else.

Good luck with sorting it out.
The second hive is going to be so much easier to install, having made these mistakes with the first, so there is a silver lining to it all.

Best wishes

Barbara
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stevecook172001
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Netcomrade. I was a newbie bee-keeper last year and started on a Warre hive with a late summer cast swarm I came across on a gardening job. I left a feeder outside of the hive, close-by, and it attracted bees from other hives which then robbed out my own colony blind who were weaker, being only small and newcomers. I realised my mistake and removed the feeder. But, by then it was too late. It did for them in the end and they didn't survive. It wasn't just the robbing that was responsible for the death of the colony, but it was a major contributory factor, I am sure. It's a bad feeling knowing I screwed up and I will never leave a feeder outside and near the hive from now on.


As for the upside down jar-type feeder, the way to test it is to turn it upside down and then see if it leaks. If it does not, then that's good. Then test it further by running your finger over the tiny holes in the lid while it is upside down. If you get wet sugar solution on your finger, but when you take your finger away, it does not continue to leak sugar solution, then it's good to place in the hive. The bees will lick the holes and so release the vacuum for as long as they are licking. but, when they stop, the vacuum will take back over.

It just comes down to the size of the holes, too small and it will never come out, Too large and it will leak.
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NetComrade
Nurse Bee


Joined: 21 Apr 2014
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Location: Paw Paw, WV, USA

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 8:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I will try the jar feeder and figure out how to keep the bees away from the "feeder box".

I put the feeder at the bottom box, because I didn't know where else to put it, since I wanted it away from where bees were building comb. In retrospect, I could have at least put it in a higher box, which I may still end up doing temporarily until I get a new feeder figured out. I will block the entrance down to avoid "robbing".

I still hope there aren't many other honeybees around (i am in the woods/mountains.. not much agriculture or population around), so hopefully they won't get robbed before I get there.
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stevecook172001
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 10:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah, I may have misunderstood your earlier post about where you placed the feeder Netcomrade. If I did, forgive me. I initially understood you to have left it outside of the hive. However, your last post seems to be indicating it was inside but in the bottom box, in which case there is far less of a risk of robbing I would have thought.

Also, although it's never a good idea to have it outside of the hive and so attract other insects who may rob/attack the your bees (mine were actually finally finished off by wasps following the initial robbing by other bees), the risk of these is much greater at the back end of the summer when the nectar flow is coming to an end and all bees are frantically trying to stock up before winter. Or, at least, so I have been given to understand. To reiterate, I am a newbie myself... Smile.

If I've got the above wrong, then please would the experienced beekeepers on here correct me.
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NetComrade
Nurse Bee


Joined: 21 Apr 2014
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Location: Paw Paw, WV, USA

PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Update:

Opened the hive up this weekend to feed the bees, as well as to install the top bar cloth. The bees did not propolize the quilt much (maybe because they're not using the bars?), but it was slightly sticky..

The bees pretty much filled the top box in half-way, but they're attaching comb to the walls. I am not going to bother to try to fix this box. Hopefully they'll do it "right" in the boxes below. I did attach a broken off piece of comb.

Since I can't inspect the comb, and bees are bringing pollen in and seem to be quickly building comb and I didn't hear the "queenless hum" I read about on bushfarms website, I am going to assume there is a queen somewhere and hive is OK.

There were a lot fewer bees sitting on top of the quilt. I am going to assume because it was a very warm day and they could afford to leave the hive and go forage.

I spilled a bit of syrup on the entrance, and bees returning with pollen were rather happy to suck it up. Is there a guideline on how much syrup they need per week? They seem to suck up half a gallon (under 2 literes) easily in a week

Forgot to insert the battery into the camera, so no pictures.

By the way, I don't think I managed to squash any bees this time around. I think emptiness of the hive helped. The ants keep the area around the hive dead-bee free.
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