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Bees in a standard hive now (30Aug), move to a HTBH when ?

 
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mal
Nurse Bee


Joined: 11 Jul 2013
Posts: 44
Location: Rutland, Leicestershire, UK

PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 12:16 pm    Post subject: Bees in a standard hive now (30Aug), move to a HTBH when ? Reply with quote

I missed out on populating my TBH this year (no swarms and a failed chop and crop) but have kindly been offered a colonised Standard framed hive, delivery in a week or so.
1) I am assuming it would be best at this stage to overwinter the colony in the Standard and then transfer in the spring ?

If so then i would welcome advice / opinions on :
2) the timing of transfer - on first signs of brood / comb / stores or longer - even wait until signs of swarming (could split into 2 TBHs)?

3) method of transfer - I like the idea of placing the standard on top of the tbh and letting the bees migrate down, though several contributors suggest that they tried this but resorted to chop and crop.

Thanks for any comments / experiences of the same
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catchercradle
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 May 2010
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 12:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HTBH or Warré? quite straightforward with a Warré. I know a couple who have done it.
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biobee
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Location: UK, England, S. Devon

PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 2:55 pm    Post subject: Re: Bees in a standard hive now (30Aug), move to a HTBH when Reply with quote

mal wrote:

1) I am assuming it would be best at this stage to overwinter the colony in the Standard and then transfer in the spring ?

Definitely.

mal wrote:

2) the timing of transfer - on first signs of brood / comb / stores or longer - even wait until signs of swarming (could split into 2 TBHs)?

Let them build up a bit in spring - don't attempt anything until the weather is warm and reasonably stable.

mal wrote:

3) method of transfer - I like the idea of placing the standard on top of the tbh and letting the bees migrate down, though several contributors suggest that they tried this but resorted to chop and crop.


Vertical migration into a Warré is relatively easy, but IMO not viable with a hTBH - apart from anything else you will need special bars.

C&C could be a viable option, but I would also suggest 'bar insertion' - adding to bars between pairs of frames - to get some straight comb, then using swarm cells or a split. I'm writing this up for my new book and will post details here later - busy right now...
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Broadwell
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Joined: 22 Jul 2013
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Location: UK, Kent, High Weald

PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 4:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Bees in a standard hive now (30Aug), move to a HTBH when Reply with quote

biobee wrote:
mal wrote:

1) I am assuming it would be best at this stage to overwinter the colony in the Standard and then transfer in the spring ?

Definitely.




Biobee, please could you, or someone else, explain why?

I was thinking of doing something similar. If the Standard box was placed above the new body box now and the the entrance was maintained above the new body is there still a problem?

Don't mean to hijack your post Mal, your question was a useful one for me too but you seem ahead of me on this detail already.
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Adam Rose
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Joined: 09 Oct 2011
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Location: Manchester, UK

PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2013 5:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

At this time of year, the bees are focused on building up stores and producing winter bees to get through the winter. You would hope that the honey bars or frames are becoming full with honey and that they will start backfilling parts of the brood nest with honey as well as the brood nest shrinks. They won't be doing much or any comb building. You really don't want to disrupt this process at all. Some people harvest at this time of year, although I don't. You may need to help them along by feeding, although I have not found that to be necessary where I live, partly because I don't harvest.

In the spring, the queen will be laying, the brood area expanding, and their comb building instincts will be in full flow. Given that you want them to basically build a completely new home in a TBH, this is the time to move them. If they have survived the winter and haven't eaten all their stores, this is when I take some honey.
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rmcpb
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Joined: 17 Jul 2011
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Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2013 7:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In spring they are building up and its easier/more natural for them to fill the new hive. Moving them now when they are preparing for winter is not natural, they are focused on building resources not building comb and brood now in your area.
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Che Guebuddha
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Joined: 31 Jan 2012
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Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2013 8:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just for the record;

It is very messy Chop'n'Cropping combs packed with honey. This will not just trigger robbing but also the combs will very likely collapse. Did it, experienced it. Sure you can tie them etc but man is that messy.

I would wait until end of April or even better when swarm preps are to start. In that case you will need 2 top bar hives or simply split the old Queen into the top bar hive on 5 combs (2 with stores 3 with capped brood). Brush 2 combs of house bees into the new split.

Either keep the remaining colony in the conventional hive or move them into a new TBH which can be placed in the same spot.
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AnnetteSimone
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Joined: 21 Apr 2013
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Location: SE-NORWAY, Vestfold, Larvik

PostPosted: Sun Sep 01, 2013 10:36 am    Post subject: Transferring today or tomorrow or not? Reply with quote

I am having kind of the same 'problems', or maybe problems is wrong to say. Got my first two hives at the end of may, brown bees. Startet building TBHs from the end of June. Today I drive the second build TBH to the beeplace; other one earlier this week.

Then my 'problem':
Today there is a lot of wind 9-10 m7/s, temp. 16-17'C.
Tomorrow almost no or little wind 2-3-4 m/s, temp 17-16 C.
Night temperatures 12-15C.
Winter comes in December, colder weather from Oct.

I really want to start having my bees in the TBHs. Beeing a bit sick I think driving the second hive to the beeyard today and filling moving the bees over tomorrow. Good idea?

Then another not related problem I have on this blog: I had a signature but it disappeared. Have no clue why. Photos, I can not upload either.

So moving my bees tomorrow?

Greetings,
Annette
topplistekube.blogspot.com
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mal
Nurse Bee


Joined: 11 Jul 2013
Posts: 44
Location: Rutland, Leicestershire, UK

PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 6:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for you responses - I will leave them as they are for the Winter and no doubt have other questions in the spring.

Rgds. Mal
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Barbara
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 8:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Annette

Didn't want you to think that your question was being ignored but perhaps like others I am struggling to understand what your situation is.

Am I right in thinking that you are transferring bees into a long framed hive or are you doing a chop and crop. I would advise against the chop and crop this year now but if you are just lifting frames from one hive into another that will not be a problem.

Regards

Barbara
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AnnetteSimone
House Bee


Joined: 21 Apr 2013
Posts: 20
Location: SE-NORWAY, Vestfold, Larvik

PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 9:03 am    Post subject: into new TBH Reply with quote

yes, barbara, I did yesterday an chop and crop into my first TBH, still 2 to go. One I decided to do next spring /june), the other later this week I hope. Got the bees 9 cutted frames. It is still late summer here, but almost no flowers any longer.
I was so eager to start with TBH, you know.

Gr,
Annette
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


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

PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 9:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Annette,
bees have thought me well one important thing Smile patience, lots of patience Smile
I agree with Barbara, best to do the chop n crop in May next year just before the swarm season.
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biobee
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Joined: 14 Jun 2007
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Location: UK, England, S. Devon

PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 10:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Because I promised, here is my draft version of the 'hive substitution' method of transfer.

The ‘hive substitution’ technique enables you to split a colony from a framed hive to a TBH with little effort and little danger of damage to bees or brood. This method can also be used to combine artificial swarming with colony increase: neither hive will have the wherewithal to swarm and you will end up with two viable colonies if all goes smoothly.

Requirements
You need a strong, healthy colony in a conventional, framed hive, during the early-to-mid-season build-up period. The hive should ideally be crowded, having three frames less than its capacity and with no supers added. It should be located on the spot where you want your TBH to be - ideally with the entrance at a similar height to that of a TBH - and there should be a stand 4-5 paces off to one side (not in front of the entrance) where you can place the framed hive safely (see Step three).
I strongly suggest you read through the following steps several times to familiarize yourself with the process before attempting it. It is not difficult, but it helps to understand the reasons for each step.

Method

Step one - Well in advance, make up three special top bars, the same width as your standard bars (38mm) and the correct length, but only 10-12mm thick - the same thickness as the protruding tabs of one of your standard frames. They should be stiff enough to resist flexing, or you risk comb breakages: a comb guide pinned on the underside will help with rigidity. You can cut down the ends of standard bars if you prefer, but check that they fit comfortably in both your framed and top bar hive.

Step two - One to two weeks before you plan to perform the operation, open your framed hive and insert your three thin top bars between pairs of frames, something like this: frame, TB, frame, frame, TB, frame, frame, TB, frame. You will now see why we make them thinner than normal: they sit down in the hive and allow for the easy replacement of the crown board. Note that top bars should butt up against the frame on either side to achieve the correct centre-to-centre spacing : there should be no bee space between them.

Step three - On the chosen day of the operation, which should be fine and sunny with little or no wind, with bees flying freely to forage, open the framed hive and check that the bees have built combs on the modified bars. Most likely, there will be good-sized combs on each bar with eggs and open brood and some sealed brood. Some or all of it may be drone brood, but that’s not a problem. If you find one or more open queen cells on the edge of one of the new combs, that is also nothing to worry about. If you find a closed (sealed) queen cell, carefully cut or tear the comb around the top of it, leaving a good margin for handling, and carefully attach it to the edge of one of the framed combs, making a recess for it in the wax if necessary.
If all is well, replace the crown board temporarily and move the framed hive to a position 4-5 paces away and immediately place the TBH in the vacated spot, with its entrance facing the same direction. Flying bees will return to that spot and will begin looking for the entrance.

Step four - Open the framed hive and carefully remove the three modified bars, one at a time, by first moving the frames away from them, cutting away any attachments and being careful to avoid breakages. Take special care to look for the queen on each comb as you remove it: there is a very good chance that she is laying eggs on one of them. You want to move the queen to the TBH, so if she is already on one of these fresh combs it will save you some work. Be careful not to drop her!
Gently transfer the combs to the TBH, keeping them vertical. Place one empty bar in between each one that has comb, in the same order and with the same orientation with respect to the entrance as they were in the framed hive. Add two empty bars either side of them and close one side with a follower, ensuring the flying bees can enter freely and find the combs. Place the other follower a hand span away from the other side of the new group of bars, leaving a gap into which you will, in a moment, shake some more bees.

Step five - At this point, you need to know which hive the queen is in. If you moved her to the TBH, you can move on to step six; otherwise, you need to locate her in the framed hive. This can best be done by someone who is a confident queen-spotter, but if no such person is to hand, you simply have to take out the frames one by one and look carefully on both sides.
A good trick is to arrange the frames in pairs with a three-finger gap between each pair. Within 30 seconds of doing this, you can be confident that the queen will be in between one of the pairs of frames: an experienced beekeeper will be able to tell you which pair simply by observing the behaviour of the bees; otherwise, you will have to look carefully until you spot her.
Whichever queen-finding method you employ, you need to transfer her to the TBH. So very gently, take the frame she is on over to the TBH and persuade her to walk onto the tip of a feather or a fine brush or a leaf - but NOT onto your hand (never handle a queen!) and by this means place her onto the nearest comb. Now shake (or brush with a goose feather) all the bees from that frame directly into the TBH (this is why you left a gap!).

Step six - Take two more frames of bees and shake/brush them into the TBH. This ensures a sufficient number of nurse bees to take care of the brood that the queen will be about to lay. If the framed hive still seems to have the bulk of the bees, shake another frame, just to be sure, but don’t deplete the old hive too much as they need young bees to look after existing brood and to raise a new queen. Leave about two thirds of them in their old hive.

Step seven - Carefully close everything up, using your mist spray to persuade bees to join their friends and to leave the exposed edges of the woodwork where they may be crushed. Both colonies should now be left undisturbed for a week to give them time to settle down after this disruption.

Summary
You have split a colony and the queen is now on one side of the split, with most of the sealed brood in the other side. If all is well, the bees in the TBH have their queen and some nurse bees and they have food being delivered by the foraging bees, so they will carry on as before: the queen will get busy laying eggs into the new combs and more will soon be built. If there is an early change for the worse in the weather, it may be wise to feed them, as they have no stores.
The original colony is queenless and has lost most of its foraging bees, as they will automatically return to the spot they have always found their family: bees do not expect their home to be moved! They should have food stores to tide them over until some of the older bees get early promotion to foraging duty - if not, feed them 1:1 syrup. By the time all the open and sealed brood has emerged, they will have a new queen and you can add more frames to give them room to expand.

Advantages
There are several advantages in using this method over the more brutal ‘chop-and-crop’ for starting a TBH :
1. You are starting your TBH with fresh, straight comb as it has been built in a confined space between mature combs.
2. There is no risk of cutting through or damaging brood.
3. You have an opportunity to test the temperament of the colony before committing yourself to the current queen (you could introduce a new queen instead after a few hours wait).
4. You have an opportunity to check for brood disease during the transfer and you minimize any danger of infecting the TBH only moving new combs.
5. At the end of the process, you still have a colony in the framed hive! You can sell this or give it away, or keep it as a swarm resource, or repeat the process to boost the TBH - it’s up to you.

What can possibly go wrong?
As with all beekeeping operations, this one may not go exactly to plan. Bees have their own ideas about what they will allow you to do to them and may make decisions that are not necessarily aligned with your expectations. Only experience and observational skills will enable you to steer around some of the obstacles they may put in your way, but the following tips may help you meanwhile.

You cannot find the queen - beginners often have trouble seeing a queen among a mass of workers and drones; this is nothing to be ashamed of. I gave you my best queen-locating tip above, but if you still cannot find her, close up both hives and walk away. Return the next day and the behaviour of the bees should give you some important clues as to her location: whichever hive is behaving calmly and going about its business without fuss is the one with the queen. If she is in the TBH, you have nothing more to do. If she is still in the original hive, I suggest you have another look for her using the above instructions and transfer her gently to the TBH. Avoid touching her and don’t shake her in, as an injured queen may be summarily executed by her workers.

You found no eggs or young larvae on the old combs - only on the new combs, which you have placed in the TBH. If there are queen cells developing in the old hive, this does not matter as they will raise a new queen in one (or more) of them. No eggs, no young larvae and no queen cells means no material to make a queen, so you will have to replace one of the combs from the TBH into the old hive. If you have some experience of such things, or know someone who can help, you could obtain another queen and introduce her instead, or insert a sealed queen cell from another hive.

You could not find the queen, but there are sealed queen cells and there seem to be fewer bees than a week ago - this suggests they have already swarmed! They were probably planning to do so before you added the extra bars, but all is not lost: divide the queen cells and bees between the two hives, leave them alone for three weeks and you will have two colonies with virgin queens. If you find multiple sealed queen cells, you could even make up an additional nucleus colony at one end of the TBH - or in a separate nuc box - as an insurance against one of them failing to mate.


Last edited by biobee on Tue Sep 17, 2013 9:32 am; edited 1 time in total
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mannanin
Scout Bee


Joined: 25 Feb 2009
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Location: Essex. UK.

PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 10:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Whichever queen-finding method you employ, you need to transfer her to the TBH. "

Excellent info Phil, very clear as always and easy to follow. Its what I see as an even split. No doubt you will groan at the thought of questions already, but I feel the need to ask. How important do you think it is to transfer the queen to the TBH? Agreed it will get off to a quicker start, but
provided the TBH has eggs & larvae, would it matter much if she stayed in the original framed hive.

Thanks for all of your effort on this subject, much appreciated
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AugustC
Silver Bee


Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 613
Location: Malton, North Yorkshire

PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Right!.. that's it... it's no good I am just going to have to start compiling these things in a word document or something. These tips are coming thick and fast and we can't make everything sticky.

Bear in mind though Phil you only have yourself to blame if I don't need to buy your next book Smile
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biobee
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 12:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mannanin wrote:
How important do you think it is to transfer the queen to the TBH? Agreed it will get off to a quicker start, but
provided the TBH has eggs & larvae, would it matter much if she stayed in the original framed hive.



I haven't done this often enough or 'scientifically' enough to make a definitive statement on that, but it just 'feels right' to me to get the queen laying as quickly as possible in the TBH, which is - of the two - the more 'alien' environment until it is well populated and they have settled in properly.

It could be done the other way, but you would need to ensure a sufficient population of nurse bees, which might mean depriving the donor colony of them, potentially to its detriment.

I am more than happy for people to try out variations of this to find the best combo for particular situations.
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biobee
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 12:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AugustC wrote:


Bear in mind though Phil you only have yourself to blame if I don't need to buy your next book Smile


Don't worry - you will definitely want to buy it! If only to help keep me alive another year...
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AnnetteSimone
House Bee


Joined: 21 Apr 2013
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Location: SE-NORWAY, Vestfold, Larvik

PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 8:49 pm    Post subject: 23 C here today, hot Reply with quote

Did my first chop and crop yesterday. Corrected what I could have done better or different today. Took away the topbars on top of the old top, so now it looks like this.

OK, I forgot that the image button here does not work...or I dont know how to use it. Would have liked to show some pictures.

Had 3 whole combs with closed new bees in the doughterhive made on August 1 Smile

Annette
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biobee
Site Admin


Joined: 14 Jun 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 10:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You have to put your photos on a hosting service, such as Flickr, and then link to it using the image button.
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mal
Nurse Bee


Joined: 11 Jul 2013
Posts: 44
Location: Rutland, Leicestershire, UK

PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 9:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi - I am following Phil's new method of transfer (as detailed above) and have had my 3 modified top-bars in the donor hive for nearly 3 weeks. When I checked last week the middle bar was very full (brood and stores) - almost touching the sides, and will probably need trimming to fit the HTBH. One of the other bars had a 1/3 comb built and started to be filled with honey (no brood), and the 3rd bar was empty. [The outside frames were empty and had very little bee activity on them]
I moved the empty bar one step closer to the centre and closed up, with the hope of transferring today/tomorrow.
However the midday temperature is around 8 / 9 deg C at the moment - am I right in worrying about chilling the hive too much if I attempt the transfer ?

I am going away Sat so the next time I will have opportunity will be 1 weeks time so possible options :
Leave it and risk swarming - with the HTBH prepared as a bait box ?
Inspect it quickly and act only if queen cells built ?
Perform transfer regardless - weather isn't too cold ?
Any other options ?

Appreciate your advice.

Regards
Mal


Last edited by mal on Thu Mar 27, 2014 10:21 am; edited 1 time in total
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AugustC
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Joined: 08 Jul 2013
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Location: Malton, North Yorkshire

PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Others will know better but I am pretty sure it is too earlier to be expecting a new queen to be well mated. Perhaps you might be best placing you brood box on top of a top bar style hive leaving some gaps between the topbars, or cutting out some strips from the top bars that can be replaced. The hive can then grow down into the top bar hive forming the correct shape. Alternatively, if you want to keep the current queen in the brood. Make an "adapter board" and super the top bar style hive onto the brood box. You can keep the topbars as they should be then. This will give you a little more time before you perform your split and will have the bees drawing out some lovely trapezoid comb which will come in handy.
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Barbara
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Mal

What makes you worry that they will swarm in the next week?
Did you see drones/drone brood and queen cells?
If the outer frames are empty, the queen still has plenty of space to lay and they also have room to build on the top bars that you gave them, so no worry about over crowding just yet. Does the framed hive have a super on or just a brood box? Are you feeding them to encourage comb building or are they collecting nectar, or just moving honey from somewhere else in the hive. It's early for any real flow here in the UK yet unless you have OSR nearby.

My concern is that you have actually started things too early, but it is great to hear that they have made such good progress so far. I think the problem with this is that the comb on the top bars is all going to need trimming before conditions are ready for the transfer. Whereas if you had done it mid-late April/early May, it could have been accomplished in a few days-a week. As AugustC says, it's really rather early for a new queen to mate at the moment as there are few, if any drones about yet. Certainly here in my apiary there are none. So you condemn the bees in whichever hive is left queenless, to dwindle and die if you do the split too early.

@AugustC

Quite a few members of the forum have tried growing down into a hTBH by various means and the vast majority, if not all, have reported problems/failure, with the colony swarming rather than move. Hence Phil's extensive post on this alternative method of transfer for those wishing to avoid chop and crop.
You made a good point about the risk of the new queen not mating though. Smile

Regards

Barbara
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mal
Nurse Bee


Joined: 11 Jul 2013
Posts: 44
Location: Rutland, Leicestershire, UK

PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your quick responses.

Barbara - in answer to a couple of your questions :
What makes you worry that they will swarm in the next week? Ignorance ! 'Embarassed' No - there did not appear to be drone cells a week ago, and certainly no queen cells, but I was assuming the quick rate of comb filling may have created the right environment to start though.

Regards an early start to the transfer process - I can see your point and I'm afraid I can only put it down to more ignorance and over eagerness. There was a lot of activity and pollen collection going on 3 weeks ago and I was unsure about getting my top bars in prior to the brood box frames being full.

There is only the brood box at the moment - would you recommend putting on a super in order to delay any swarming impulse (if any in the next couple of weeks) and then attempt the transfer later in the season when there are drone cells present ? I accept it may mean some trimming of the over-sized comb on the top bars.

Thanks
Mal
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Knucker
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Joined: 09 Oct 2014
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Location: Malton, UK

PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2014 10:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Mal, as someone following in your footsteps and in the same position you were in last year, I'd be very interested to hear how you got on with this method of getting bees from a framed hive into a TBH. Or indeed if any others have used this successfully.

Al
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mal
Nurse Bee


Joined: 11 Jul 2013
Posts: 44
Location: Rutland, Leicestershire, UK

PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2014 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Knucker,
Just to let you know that I followed the procedure as in Phil's description above and it worked and the hive is going into this winter looking strong.
What did I learn ?
I placed the top bars into the National too early which meant the bars were full and ready to move before swarming season - and therefore before any drones were about to mate with any new queen. I thus had to delay transfer for a while, the top bars filled out to the sides of the national which made them messy to remove and also had to be cut to tbh shape.

If I were to do it again I would probably create TBH shaped frames to hang in the National which would hopefully alleviate any timing issues and simplify transfer.

I also had 2 swarms arrive in a bait hive this year - and that was by far the easiest method !

Good luck
Mal
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Knucker
New Bee


Joined: 09 Oct 2014
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Location: Malton, UK

PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2014 9:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Mal, much appreciated!

I'll try to be patient next year, provided of course the girls make it through winter okay.

Al
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Conserving wild bees

Research suggests that bumble bee boxes have a very low success rate in actually attracting bees into them. We find that if you create an environment where first of all you can attract mice inside, such as a pile of stones, a drystone wall, paving slabs with intentionally made cavities underneath, this will increase the success rate.

Most bumble bee species need a dry space about the size a football, with a narrow entrance tunnel approximately 2cm in diameter and 20 cm long. Most species nest underground along the base of a linear feature such as a hedge or wall. Sites need to be sheltered and out of direct sunlight.

There is a spectacular display of wild bee hotels here

More about bumblebees and solitary bees here

Information about the Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum)

Barefoot Beekeeper Podcast



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