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new swarm seems not to be making much comb

 
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rakeman
House Bee


Joined: 28 Jun 2015
Posts: 19
Location: East Harling, Norwich, Norfolk, U.K.

PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2016 2:40 pm    Post subject: new swarm seems not to be making much comb Reply with quote

I managed to get a new swarm (from our original TBH) in to a new TBH. Bees are very animated but there doesn't appear to be much comb production. The swarm is formed into a large cluster at one end of the hive, viewed from below though the mech floor. I've charged the feeder with fondant as it's been wet and below seasonal temperature. Am I worrying needlessly or is there more I can do to help the colony get established? Many thanks in advance. David
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1563
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2016 6:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many people have this misconception that because they can't see anything, nothing is happening. I can assure you your swarm will be very busy building comb at the centre of that cluster.
If you really feel it is necessary to feed them, then 1:1 syrup or even thinner will be more help than fondant. They will need to fetch water to dissolve/dilute the fondant, whereas thin syrup can be used directly. Fondant is best reserved for winter feeding.

You must also remember that it is still June and there is plenty of time for a swarm to get established before winter. I have had small cast swarms in August still make it with a bit of feeding, so don't feel there is some race to build a whole hive of comb. Biggest is not always best.

Not sure if you have a cover for your open mesh floor but if you do, the bees will appreciate it being in place. Removing it to check on progress every once in a while is OK but best to keep it covered, particularly with new swarms in my opinion as you risk them absconding.

Good luck with them

Barbara
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mannanin
Scout Bee


Joined: 25 Feb 2009
Posts: 260
Location: Essex. UK.

PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2016 10:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I must say, I agree with everything Barbara has said. (I nearly always do!) please be patient and remember for the Uk, it is still early season. If it helps, my very first TBH was started with a swarm on July 3rd 2009. That hive has been in continuous occupation since with very little input from me. I have never fed them and they have always thrived. You may not see all that's going on and you really don't need to, because they know what they are doing. Good luck with them.
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rakeman
House Bee


Joined: 28 Jun 2015
Posts: 19
Location: East Harling, Norwich, Norfolk, U.K.

PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2016 10:49 am    Post subject: not much going on... Reply with quote

Thank you for erudite and informed replies. It's only our second swarm, retrieved after a night at the top of a tree (the bees that is) in the heaviest rain for this time of year. Obviously worrying for nothing. Feel happier today reading responses. Again, thank you.
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rakeman
House Bee


Joined: 28 Jun 2015
Posts: 19
Location: East Harling, Norwich, Norfolk, U.K.

PostPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2016 7:23 am    Post subject: Feeding TBH bees Reply with quote

The cold wet weather continues and I am making feed for my TBH bees. However, where is the best place to place the feed, inside or outside the hive? I've been using fondant but now going to try Barbara's recommended mix 1:1 sugar to water. Ideas for a feeder design/references welcome. Bees can get from the hive into the brood chambers where mesh floor sags so would these be best positions to place feeder? Many thanks
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1563
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2016 9:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This weather is now becoming a problem for many swarms that were just setting up home and may well need artificial feeding.

Definitely feed inside the hive and not outside and with swarms I place it adjacent to the cluster on their side of the follower. This advice is assuming you have the hive at home in your garden and can check it and refill it on a daily basis and move the feeder as necessary as comb is built. Often the bees don't find it if you put it behind the follower board, especially when it is cold like this as they can't afford the time to go off exploring. It is also important to reduce the entrance down to half a cork and best to put the feeder in on an evening and keep topping it up subsequent evenings.

My preference is an inverted jar feeder..... a jam jar with holes punched through the lid with a small nail. I make a platform for it to sit on by getting a small piece of wood and cutting a hole just smaller than the jam jar and sitting the jar upside down over the hole. If you make the piece of wood the right length it will sit cross ways on the sloping sides at a height so that the jar just fits below the top bars and the lid(feeding level) is more or less level with the bottom of the cluster. I have a second piece of wood a quarter of an inch below the platform that creates a floor for the bees to walk under the one with the hole in and also catches any drips rather than risk them dripping out of the hive and attracting robbers.

Alternatively, you could just use an empty plastic takeaway carton or other similar tray and float straw or dry grass on the surface of the syrup or a piece of wood with small holes drilled in it, so that the bees don't drown in the syrup. Again I would make a shelf across the hive with a piece of scrap wood and sit the tray quite close to the cluster, so they find it quickly and easily.
They will probably go through a jam jar of syrup a day quite happily.
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