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First hive stripped clean

 
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alan
Nurse Bee


Joined: 29 Sep 2014
Posts: 25
Location: Ryhill,W.Yorkshir. UK

PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2014 8:19 am    Post subject: First hive stripped clean Reply with quote

This was my 1st year bee keeping.I got a nuc of bees from alocal guy.They were Manx bees,I got them 28th July.I was concerned from the beginning that they may have previously swarmed before I got them,so as far as I knew they may not have had a queen?Difficult for me to say,but he sold them cheap to me.
Things seemed to go well till a week ago.They had 10 combs-TBH-with 3-4 heavy honey filled combs.He suggested to me that feeding would be better to get them through their first winter.Thsi seemed to be when my problems started.I put suger syrup in back of hive with grass in it so bees could climb out.They finishe of quarter litre ok,so I filled it up again.Then notice increasing wasp activity,finding wasps in hive and in suger.I reduced entrance to help bees,but still had problem.Next I removed the syrup and got two wasp traps.Wasps did get trapped so I re introduced syrup.It was only ten that I realised the wasps were nothing in comparison to what happened next.More foreign bees started visiting,alot buzzing around trying to get in.I put some metal gauze over entrance area and hoped this would confuse and deter the foreign bees as I had read.
So I was at work all day yesterday,I returned to a destroyed hive.Hive virtually empty,my dead bees on floor of hive,combs stripped and destroyed.A scene of carnage.Oh my God.
That's my first experience,this year is obviously finished with regards to bees.I have spent some money but not massive amounts,so hope to try again in spring,but I will have to consider it carefully as it is a disturbing experience.
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biobee
Site Admin


Joined: 14 Jun 2007
Posts: 1055
Location: UK, England, S. Devon

PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2014 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Buying a nuc in the middle of July is a bit of a gamble, and bees - as with all things - are subject to the universal truism that if a thing seems too cheap, it is unlikely to be very good.

In any case, a weak colony will always be the target of robbers (mostly Italian bees) and wasps and will be unlikely to thrive. I would start by asking for a replacement in the spring if this queen simply has not performed well, or was, indeed, missing.

BTW - please post a more accurate location - 'UK' is too vague to give you climate-appropriate advice.
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alan
Nurse Bee


Joined: 29 Sep 2014
Posts: 25
Location: Ryhill,W.Yorkshir. UK

PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2014 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can a strong hive always withstand robbers,or if local bees behave like this,will they always be at risk.So in that case,would it be unwise to keep bees in same spot?
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biobee
Site Admin


Joined: 14 Jun 2007
Posts: 1055
Location: UK, England, S. Devon

PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2014 12:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you have Italian bees in the area, you will always get at least attempted robbing. This is causing me problems right now in one of my apiaries - it looks like a feral colony is trying to break into all the others. My current strategy is placing a station feeder away from the other hives in an attempt to distract them, but not before they emptied a full Dadant super containing around 50lb of honey!

Closing entrances down to a minimum half-cork size does help, but once they have broken through the defences, it is nearly impossible to keep them out. Having strong colonies definitely helps, but hungry Italians are the very devil to keep out of your hives.
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alan
Nurse Bee


Joined: 29 Sep 2014
Posts: 25
Location: Ryhill,W.Yorkshir. UK

PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2014 5:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh dear.
This is depressing and makes me wonder if there is any point in trying next year Confused
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R Payne
Foraging Bee


Joined: 11 Apr 2011
Posts: 123
Location: USA, Kansas, Wichita

PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 12:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you're interested in beekeeping, then try again. My first colony got robbed out and killed off. I got another package the next year and they became a strong colony and survived the first winter and are going into this winter with more stores. You probably learned a lot form this experience.

ron
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alan
Nurse Bee


Joined: 29 Sep 2014
Posts: 25
Location: Ryhill,W.Yorkshir. UK

PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 7:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Ron and Phil(bio bee).
Would I be advised to get Italian bees,rather than my preferred Manx/black bee,in order to increase chances of success?
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rmcpb
Scout Bee


Joined: 17 Jul 2011
Posts: 447
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 7:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Try to organise a package early in the season when you expect a good flow. That way yours have time to build up and the established hives are distracted by the nectar flow.

Cheers
Rob.
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Adam Rose
Silver Bee


Joined: 09 Oct 2011
Posts: 586
Location: Manchester, UK

PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 7:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

alan wrote:
Would I be advised to get Italian bees,rather than my preferred Manx/black bee,in order to increase chances of success?


I would try to get locally adapted mongrels from a local beekeeper. Now would be a good time to identify one or more local beekeepers who may be able to give you bees in the spring. If you're moving them from one kind of hive to another then I would want to take delivery sometime around the end of April or 1st week in May, depending on the weather.

10 bars with 3 to 4 bars of honey might well have got you through the winter without feeding ( I have a similar sized colony which I think will be OK ) but ideally you would want a much bigger colony with a lot more honey. This is easier to achieve if you start earlier. If you have a bigger colony then you don't have to feed and they are much more able to fight off robbers.

If you have room and you can afford it, you might want to consider starting with two colonies. This might sound daunting, but if something goes wrong with one then you always have the other, and you can use the one that survives to repopulate. It also gives you a useful comparison point and at least a little room for experimentation - for example, you could have fed one and not the other. When I started I did a crop and chop in one and got a shaken swarm in the other. Or you could just set up a second hive as a bait hive and see if you get some free bees move in.

Adam.
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alan
Nurse Bee


Joined: 29 Sep 2014
Posts: 25
Location: Ryhill,W.Yorkshir. UK

PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 7:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Right.
The bees I had... were origionally from Isle of Man,but had been in the general area for a number of years.The same guy may let me have his established tbh-colony next year,if not I will have to get a package or two?Then I will have to decide if I go for black or Buckfast(Italian?)

I had built a second hive(from thornes) that has a gap at the bottom for entrance instead of holes.This looks more difficult to reduce than holes.I was(ha ha) plannining on splitting my now deceased bees next ear and using the second hive.

Maybe I made the mistake of feeding and this attracted the criminals?
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Adam Rose
Silver Bee


Joined: 09 Oct 2011
Posts: 586
Location: Manchester, UK

PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 9:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

alan wrote:
if not I will have to get a package or two?


No need for packages in the UK. You should get established colonies, nucs or captured swarms.
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Adam Rose
Silver Bee


Joined: 09 Oct 2011
Posts: 586
Location: Manchester, UK

PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 9:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

alan wrote:
I had built a second hive(from thornes)


I've never seen it myself, but this hive has had some bad reviews on this forum.

alan wrote:
Maybe I made the mistake of feeding and this attracted the criminals?


Feeding is one cause of robbing. That's not to say robbing doesn't happen without feeding, but litres of sugar solution is very attractive to insects of all kinds, particularly at this time of year when other food sources are drying up.

A TBH group near me had no problems, but when they started feeding they had a trail of ants helping themselves to the sugar solution in their TBH. When they stopped, the ants decided not to come back.

If you keep the comb from the robbed colony, then that comb will be very attractive to swarms in late spring / early summer.
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alan
Nurse Bee


Joined: 29 Sep 2014
Posts: 25
Location: Ryhill,W.Yorkshir. UK

PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 9:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok,
is there a reasonable chance of catching a swarm with my combs?
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1581
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 9:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi

Please don't be too discouraged. The key to preventing robbing is having strong colonies and being vigilant, so that you can take steps to help them before they get overrun. Usually people don't realise that robbing is happening until it is too late and the colony have lost the will to fight.

I appreciate that the hive has been "stripped clean" but that hive will still have some comb left and more importantly the aroma of a bee colony and that is VERY attractive to other bees. If I were you I would keep my money in my pocket and wait for a swarm to move in next year.... maybe even one from the colony those robber bees came from..... If you can't beat them, join them!. Of course there is no guarantee that a swarm will move in, but there is a reasonable chance of it.

I would also like to voice my concerns about packages. As I have said many times before, this is a market that Natural beekeeping here in the UK appears to be encouraging, where previously it didn't exist. New beeks want bees, but are apprehensive about catching a swarm or doing a chop and crop, and have difficulty sourcing a TBH nuc, so they go for the easy option FOR THEM which is a package. The production of packages typifies everything that is wrong with conventional beekeeping. You are not in any way helping the plight of bees by buying a package, so please consider it as a VERY LAST option.

Whilst catching and hiving swarms is very satisfying (and sometimes a bit frustrating), having a swarm arrive and move into your hive of it's own accord has to be the ultimate "YES!" moment. There are obviously bees nearby. My bet is that you will get some occupants free of charge next swarming season. In the meantime, make your garden as bee friendly as you can, especially with Spring flowering plants so that bees start coming to your garden for forage before and during the swarming season and hopefully notice your vacant des res whilst visiting.

Best wishes

Barbara
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alan
Nurse Bee


Joined: 29 Sep 2014
Posts: 25
Location: Ryhill,W.Yorkshir. UK

PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 9:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for that Barbera.
I wont go for package option.Hopefully the guy who origionally sold me the bees,will be letting me have his tbh next year?Failing that,I will try the swarm enticing suggestion. What time of year would it be best to put the combs out,should I have them in smaller nuc or larger hive.Should I use all 10 combs or even split them in two hives to see if I get two free colonies?
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alan
Nurse Bee


Joined: 29 Sep 2014
Posts: 25
Location: Ryhill,W.Yorkshir. UK

PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have jenned up a bit on bait boxes.Looks really interesting.
Iam quiet excited at the prospect of putting out bait boxes next spring.Think I could put around x4 out with the comb I have.
Does anyone have anything to say about swarm lure products?


Last edited by alan on Wed Oct 01, 2014 8:45 pm; edited 1 time in total
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trekmate
Golden Bee


Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 1125
Location: UK, North Yorkshire, Bentham

PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 8:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

alan wrote:
Does anyone have anything to say about swarm lure products?

A few drops of lemon-grass oil on a tissue sealed in a zip-lock bag with one or two pin prick left in the bait hive. Cheap, easy & works!

Commercial lures smell like...... lemon-grass oil!
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ingo50
Scout Bee


Joined: 30 May 2014
Posts: 311
Location: Newport, Gwent, Wales, UK

PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thomas Seeley has written a very good paper on Bees and bait hives. It is on the Cornell University site and can be downloaded for free. It will come up if you Google it. It is well researched and a must read and will guide you very well. Probably a good chance of catching a swarm next April, I'll be trying his design out myself on a few sites and hope to get a wild swarm.Good luck next year, don't give up.
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trekmate
Golden Bee


Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 1125
Location: UK, North Yorkshire, Bentham

PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2014 7:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Using Tom Seeley's design may make it difficult to get bees into your hive. Just use his principles to build a bait hive based in your hive design. For instance, I use top-bar hives the same width and depth as my others, but around 20 inches long which give me just below 40 litres.

Tom's article is also available on this site. http://www.biobees.com/library/research_bees/apis/Bait%20Hives%20for%20Honey%20Bees.pdf
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alan
Nurse Bee


Joined: 29 Sep 2014
Posts: 25
Location: Ryhill,W.Yorkshir. UK

PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2014 7:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes,thanks,I found the Thomas seeley paper,also a lecture on youtube.
http://youtu.be/JnnjY823e-w


Last edited by alan on Thu Oct 02, 2014 7:36 am; edited 1 time in total
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2014 7:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
New beeks want bees, but are apprehensive about catching a swarm or doing a chop and crop, and have difficulty sourcing a TBH nuc, so they go for the easy option FOR THEM which is a package. The production of packages typifies everything that is wrong with conventional beekeeping.


Same thing is starting to happen in Sweden Sad It seems all are trying to follow the "american way" of easy to make packages and easy to install packages. The only one in the win is the beek selling packages because he/she doesn't loose any colonies this way but shakes only a comb of bees from each hive and gives them a mated queen. But the ones who buy such packages have issues with absconding and bees which lack the energy to build up strong and energy to defend them selves too it seems.

My small nucleus hives which come from the same colony still can defend them selves very well from Wasp attacks, no issues. But I do reduce the entrance so only 3 bees can pass through together.

Also buying bees in July in my locality is bad because there simply is not much of forage left after Jun. So if your hive was in my locality it would empty those honey combs for brood raising and would be empty for the winter. So in July I too would feed since there is no way they can collect enough in this mono-crop environment. When I needed new bees I would buy whole colony or 5 frame nucleus hive in May. Lots of forage for them until end of Jun. Observe your environment and see when nectar flows end. Best getting bee during nectar flows.

You can also try "Robber Screens" which according to many are very good at confusing robber bees. Google it. In case of heavy robbing you can seal the entrance for 2 days with a metal mesh. Keep feeding them and place some water in the hive if you do this. Robbers might loose the interest after not being able to enter the hive.
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alan
Nurse Bee


Joined: 29 Sep 2014
Posts: 25
Location: Ryhill,W.Yorkshir. UK

PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well,I patiently waited,hoping to get some free bees,via a swarm,having put x5 hives out.No success.
So I bought a nuc of x5 frames.They are Carnolian,I read that they were docile!
Last year I didn't get stung once with my Manx Bees.So far,after tewo days,I have been stung twice and that's after just wandering around my garden.
Has anyone experience of Carnolian Bees?
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1581
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2015 9:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Really disappointed to hear you didn't manage to attract any swarms although the swarming season is not over yet I think. I have 3 hives yet to swarm. Patience is an important aspect of beekeeping although there is also a certain element of luck. Next year you might end up with 3 or 4. Sometimes it can be like buses.... wait all day and then 3 come along at once.

As regards your carnies, I don't have any experience of the breed but the poor weather can certainly make the bees grumpy and being hungry also makes them temperamental. Do you know if they have plenty of stores?
Are they still in the nuc box or have you transferred them? It could be that they are cramped for space and contemplating swarming.... that makes them tetchy too.

You might also wish to consider an alternative location for them or perhaps screening the entrance from direct view people in the garden and perhaps making them fly up above head height when they leave the hive. I currently have 10 colonies right outside my back door and they are always very happy there. I have tried locating the same strain of bees in different locations on my property and they have been much less friendly. I don't know why that is but their current location clearly suits them, so I think finding the right location may be quite important.

I hope it is just environmental conditions and they settle down soon.

Good luck with them

Barbara
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