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First season questions Long Island NY

I have been doing a ton of reading on this site and it has been a great source of information and calmed my nerves!

I still have not seen my queen after release, but have not been going into the hive as much since most posts say leave it for 7-10 day intervals.

Questions:

  1. Two frames are very stuck together. Should I try to separate or leave? I separated very early May, but they have reconnected.

  2. Can I stop feeding sugar water or is better to be safe and leave it?

  3. I am seeing black ants around 3/8” long on and around the hive. Should I be concerned if I don’t see them building a colony inside the hive?

Here are some pics. Any thoughts/concerns/criticisms are welcome!!

Cheers!

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Welcome to the group Eric. Here is my take:

  1. Stuck frames; How are they stuck? As in is there wax comb going the wrong way across the frames (thats call cross comb)? Or just the tops where the frames meet and rest on the box? The latter situation is normal and the bees tend to put propolis all over things; while that is a good thing for the bees as they love them some propolis, it is something you should break apart routinely during your inspection and try to scrape off the frames or eventually it will be like super glue and you’ll have a challenging time inspecting. If it is cross comb, you need to slice through that and my recommendation is to place a waxed foundation frame in between so that the bees learn to build straight comb.

  2. If the bees are not taking the sugar water then take it off; the feeder you have is not considered a recommended feeder by most experienced beekeepers as it attracts bees from other colonies and if they detect they can overthrow yours then they will invade. Inside feeders come in two varieties, feeders as wide as two frames that replace 2 frames to provide food, or top feeders that sit on top of your inside cover to feed from within. In this latter case you put on an empty box on top to create the space height needed to raise the roof essentially. I prefer frame style feeders so I don’t have to monkey with the extra box and risk them building comb from the roof. In short, ditch the feeder you have now.

  3. Ants are annoying— if you can get it, buy some diamatious earth (this is crushed up sea shells, and you can buy it from pool supply stores in big boxes as pool sand for filters) and sprinkle that around and under your hive. That will stop the ants and other things from invading. You have to reapply after rainfalls but a box will last you likely 2-3 years and is very inexpensive. Alternatively you can try things like cinnamon, same reapplication applies. If they aren’t moving inside your hive then likely the bees are doing a good job of chasing them away. Is that a sawed off tree they are sitting on? Perhaps the ants are making their home the log and so you are asking for trouble. Switch to an alternative stand— I use platform style stands that I got from HomeDepot that look like a small ladder, and I use boards running across the support rungs between two to give me extension space. I started with building wood stands but found the platform was cheap enough to use…

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Thanks for you help! I will pull feeder and use DE.
Yes, the frames have cross comb as in there is comb between the two frames. Book says to separate, but reading forum says to leave it. Since this is my first season I probably won’t be extracting honey (as per forum suggestions) so not sure it needs to be separated.
Cheers!

Hi Eric, Tim has given you excellent advice and I can only add that it is illegal in Australia to have a feeding system that is outside the hive and that applies to any type of entrance feeder. Feeding a new colony is a good help usually in helping in wax production for making extra comb and some extra stores as the colony builds up in numbers.
I suspect your working with foundationless frames to have the bees building bridging comb. My advice is to tidy up the frames by removing any bur comb or bridging comb as you find it. You must be able to remove each frame from the hive individually for inspection. Allowing the bees to make comb as they wish can become a big mess to tidy up and a waste of effort for the bees. Your frames should sit shoulder to shoulder touching together. Some bee keepers don’t use and foundation in a hive, that is an individual choice, but not something I would do. My tip is that you have spent a considerable amount of money getting to where you are now so at least checker board the frames with wired in foundation to each second frame so that it helps guide the bees to do what you want.
Cheers

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Thanks peter! I read many of your posts and they have been very helpful…
I do have frames with a foundation. I was in there today and saw the queen for first time…awesome! I pulled the stuck frames apart, but wasn’t sure if I should scrape the heavy cross combs off. I would think yes, but want to make sure. Since there were so many bees, I didn’t want to accidentally disrupt things.
So…should I scrape the cross comb off?

Absolutely, better now before they get the idea to make all the combs this way. It may set the bees back temporarily but they will bounce back fast.

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Cut any wax away that is outside of the frame. A bit hard to explain but use an imaginary wire down each side of the frame from top to bottom and anything outside that line needs to go as well as wax built on top and at the bottom of the frame. The only wax remaining is comb where you want the bees to build it.
If you are using frames without foundation at all in a hive it is very important that the hive is very level as the bees use the sense of gravity in comb building so if the hive isn’t level then the bees will build wonky comb.
Thanks for the compliment that my posts are of a help, it is a bit of a challenge to know how much detail to give in advice.
Cheers

I agree with Birch. This page seems to have good advice. When I read this post, it was right after inspecting my new, first hive and I see some similar things. I had black ants on top, so I brushed them off. None were inside. I looked, but didn’t happen to see the queen. I did see larva in some cells. I was hoping to be able to add my second brood box today, but I don’t think I am ready. My box has the frames ordered in an east to west orientation. The east side gets first sun and I noted last week that they seem to have focused their efforts on the east. I had the 5 nuc frames in order with one empty, foundationless on the east and two on the west. The east, which was about 30% built out last week is now solid and I was able to pull it for inspection easily. They still have not touched the two empties on the west, but the westernmost nuc frame, which had a plastic foundation is now heavy with honey to the best of my knowledge. Not many bees on it, but capped and white and the frame feels like it weighs maybe 5 lbs. I was wondering if moving it all the way west would encourage them maybe to build out the two empties on my west side? My eyes are not very well trained and I didn’t want to spend too much time looking for the queen, but I easily spotted several drones in there. It also seemed like there were a lot more bees than last inspection. Last week I took my gallon bucket feeder out of the top of the hive (sitting in the empty flow box with the roof on it) because they were barely taking the syrup and I have been seeing them bring back a steady flow of pollen to the entrance during the days. Again, I am thankful that the people commenting on this page seem helpful and not judgmental (like you see nowadays on all fb groups, etc.).

Hi Mark, you will get conflicting advice about moving frames about in a super. My thinking is that the bees are not stupid and know where in the hive they are working so switching the frames will only confuse the bees for no gain.
Your 5 lb capped frame you can bet it is honey, a frame of capped worker bees is usually capped more a very light brown\creamy color.
Your so right about those on the FB sites, there is so many on them that are pumping out misinformation and bad advice.
Cheers

Thanks Peter. This isn’t a super. I’m still working on the brood box I transferred my nuc into. It was a 5 frame nuc in my 8 frame flow brood box. Now I have 6 frames full but 2 empties on one side. The empties are next to a full frame of honey. Was thinking about moving the honey to the outside and the two empties close to the action. I might leave it alone because believe it or not it is getting freakishly cold again. Supposed to be in the 40s again (F). Unbelievable for mid June in Ohio.

You are a great resource. Thank you

I would leave the frames as they are, when the bees need to build more comb for storage then they will and will move honey away from the brood area to increase the laying space for the queen. There was a time I would move frames about in a hive ‘to help the bees’ but now, especially in the brood box, I move frames to a minimum and let the bees decide how and when to use them.
I add new frames of foundation to the outside of the brood box and take frames older than two years age out which then have a second like in a traditional super for another two years then I render then down. Frames I want to remove from the brood box are the ones in the middle which I move to the outside for the capped brood to emerge then remove them to go into a super, new frames added and the cluster held together.
Australia had the warmest Winter last year on record, it is now 2 weeks into Winter here and another warm Winter, after a record hot Summer. It makes it really hard to figure hive management on the ‘normal weather season’.
Thanks for the compliment, it is appreciated Mark.
Cheers