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G'day from Perth

G’day there,

First year beek in the central suburbs of Perth. When I was a child, my dad kept bees. Now it’s my turn to teach my kids about bees.

We received a brood box of bees in March. My first brood inspection in late August discovered we had a bit of cross combing and only 9 frames… They wintered well however - 2 frames of honey and 90%+ drawn comb, so after fixing up the cross combing, on went a super. Since then, the bees have gone gangbusters and currently have filled the super nicely.

I plan to do a do a hive inspection this weekend to see how much of the frames have been capped (I suspect 2). From the viewing window, the outside frames are 90% filled - no capping yet, but getting close. Since we are midway through spring, I am mindful of space and will take the time to inspect the brood box. I also plan to do some swarm prevention, but am a bit stuck on what to do.

Given the above circumstances, do I:

A- Nadir another brood box
B- Super another brood box
C- or Rob Honey

My future plan is to have 2 hives - so if I nadir/super, it will only be to encourage the bees to draw comb and I will split them later this season (does that even work?). I have another brood box at my disposal with 10 frames with wax foundation.

Below are pictures of my girls and the nadir/super/checkboard plan (yellow is existing frames).

I’ve been a long time lurker and have learnt a lot reading from the forum. Look forward to your responses.

Cheers,
Fred

Sting Count: 1

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Fred given you want to split to have a second hive I think I’d add the second brood box but only bring a few frames up from the bottom brood box into the middle positions of the new second brood box and checker board the two or three new frames back in the bottom brood box. I’d be looking for frames with mostly capped brood to bring up to the top box.

Good work on the sting count. I beat that by five collecting one swarm…

Adam

3 Likes

Hey @fffffred nice looking Flow frames! I’m curious why you don’t want to just go for your two-hive outcome right away, and call it a day? I believe the bees will build comb out in your new box at this point in your springtime no matter if it’s over, under or on its own. About getting the split colony queen-right - are you going to buy a queen and add her to the split-off box later on, or did you want those bees to make a queen? Either way, it’ll be to their advantage to start off as a unit as soon as possible, but time is especially of the essence if you want them to make a new queen.

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As I found, what you can do with one hive is very restrictive.
What I would do and pretty much follows what I have done. :slight_smile:

  1. Wait for the flow frames to cap (or most of the frames) and then rob.
    You cannot go through your first season without the excitement of your first honey.
  2. When you have that honey, whack a second brood box on, with new frames and just wait for it to fill. You might find you will get a chockers 2nd brood box and the flow starting to fill again before Autumn.
  3. Then do a walk away split. There is plenty here and on the internet on that subject. When you do that split is relative to the time of the season and the strength of the two brood boxes.

I write as an amateur and better advice will be coming from the more experienced than I.
Mind you, after reading your post I think you are well ahead of the game and the path you take will be the right one for you.

2 Likes

Thanks @Eva, a split isn’t off the cards. If I find swarm cells upon my inspection, I’ll likely go this route. I like the temperament of the bees currently, so happy for them to rear their own queen.

In hindsight maybe I should have spilt before supering, but temptation and thought of tasting some liquid gold got the better of me.

But having said that, I now understand that the honey is for the bees so would be happy to wait as long as needed.

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Thanks @busso and @AdamMaskew. I appreciate your experience - especially making a split that late in the season. Almost sounds like I can have my cake and eat it too :smile:

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Bee season starts in Spring Fred, so you are at the start of the season in Perth. @busso and @AdamMaskew are clear thinkers and both of a probably slightly cooler climate. My thinking now is an ideal time to make a split and have the colony make a new queen for the queen-less split.
True you will not get as much honey, but if it is a good season, then WOW, you will be laughing. :smiley:
cheers

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So I ended up making an even split. Deciding factors being:

  • Super was extremely heavy - need to look after my back for future inspections.
  • Hive was extremely honey-bound - Bees burr/cross combed between top of brood frames, queen excluder and underside of super frames filled with honey.

So a 1-2 hour inspection, turned into a 4-5 hour cleanup exercise (I loaded my smoker up 3-4 times and burnt through a bucket of fuel).

What concerns me is I didn’t find much evidence of an active laying queen (nor the queen herself. There were very few mature larvae, and a lot of capped brood and the odd capped drone cells. I did find 1 queen cup with a hole in the bottom.

Could she have swarmed? If so, the population doesn’t reflect that (or maybe I’ve been ignorant of the number of bees I actually had). Is it possible that the queen has been superseded and was on a mating flight whilst I was inspecting?

I will check on the new split this coming weekend to see if they have made any new queen cups. I gave the new split the best chance by giving it 5 frames and shaking nurse bees into the new split.

I ended up steeling one frame of honey the day after. Got just shy of 3kg of honey. Could have been more if I didn’t stop tasting it.

Sorry, didn’t get photos of inside of the hive… too busy looking for my queen and making a mess.

Lessons learnt:

  • Inspect more regularly (especially in spring)
  • Bee space, bee space, bee space - I should have put a 10th frame in on the last inspection…

Thanks for the tips so far.

Sting Count: 3

2 Likes

Congrats on doing a split.
I do my inspections no more than 3 weeks apart after Spring but try for fortnightly. It makes inspections much quicker with less cleaning up in the hive.
The queen cup could be a ‘play queen cell’ that the colony makes just because they can, but might never use it. I used to knock them down but within 48 hours another was made so I just leave them there now.
The colony may have swarmed prior to you doing the split and if the queen wasn’t marked there is no way of knowing for sure unless you see it happen. Sometimes you will find a queen cell with the cap over it still hanging loose in which case a new queen has emerged.
I have one hive that is definitely queen right but in over a year I still have not seen her, let alone marked her. She is really a shy one!!! :smiley:
Cheers Fred

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I wonder if your original queen was killed and you could have a virgin queen, who happened to be out on a mating flight when you did your split?

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A valid thought @Eva and I hadn’t considered it. Good thinking.:grinning:
Cheers

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Fingers crossed this is the case. The parent seems to be teeming with normal bee activity again (especially cleaning up after me). The bees don’t seem agitated or queenless.

My new split looked to lack activity so I peered into the entrance and saw a few bees covered in honey. To my shock and horror, one of the honey frames have leaked and flooded the bottom board. Which might explain why they haven’t left the hive… A lot of larvae have fallen down too… I’ve cleaned up and will check again tomorrow…

Is the larvae displacement normal?

What I’m seeing in that pic makes me think you have dragged frames vertically up out of the box without a gap made at the side of the frame first Fred. Spilled honey and displaced brood shouldn’t happen when you are making a split or moving frames about at all.
Lets look down into a well set up box of frames in say an 8 frame box Fred, all the frames are touching shoulder to shoulder and an equal gap on each side to the edge of the box. First frame to remove is an outside frame and it should be levered sideways towards the side of the box before you lift it upwards out of the box. You might have brood on the inside of the frame but normally the outside will be only stores and with the gap any bridging or bur comb will be clear so it won;t drag on the comb. The next frame likewise should be moved towards the wall of the box into the gap before lifting it out, and so on, with very little damage to the comb, stores and larvae. Reassemble the hive in the same way in reverse, take your time and a puff of smoke will help clear bees out of the way. Cut off any bur or bridging comb as you go and that will make it easier for you and the bees.
They bees are not out foraging because they are busy repairing the comb and cleaning up mate.
Cheers

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Hiya fffffffffffred, I’d say they have ejected the larvae, normal for a colony to bring out the dead and dying.
The leak is a worry, did you open the frame in one hit?
Also, if there were no eggs in your split how will they make a queen?

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The leak wasn’t from extraction. The leak was from a traditional frame of honey I transferred into the new split from the old brood box that I ‘cleaned’ up. It had honey filled bur and cross comb extending pass the top and sides bars of the frame. The clean up meant ‘decapping’ some of the cells. In hind sight, maybe I should have extracted that honey…

thanks for the reminder on extracting in increments - that’s what I did and found the results leak free.

I’m ‘hoping’ I transferred some eggs across :cold_sweat: I will inspect again this weekend to make doubly sure the frame I i have in mind. That frames had an area looking like this, so assumed it had eggs:

This photo is from last inspection, unfortunately I wasn’t able to capture any photos for reassessment. I also transferred a frame which I thought looked to have some queen cups.

I’ll take a photo this weekend for your expert opinion.

Still little activity this morning when I checked. Also have started noticing mouse/rat poo next to the hive. Should I set a trap?

Thanks Peter for the tip. I believe my technique is similar as described.

To give you an indication how bound they were. I was able to collect 2 large lunch boxes full of burr/ cross comb and managed to crush and strain 500-600grams of honey. Messy builders my bees are.

Frames are packed tight against each other.

Photos to come this weekend.

I just had a brainwave… am I supposed to leave a hive mat on the brood box when supering???

Hey Fred, that frame in the pic certainly looks like it has very young eggs in it.
Mice can be a problem if they can squeeze thru the entrance, I use a gizmo, available on EBay and most apiary suppliers, it will stop any varmints getting in and if you turn it upside down in it a ventilated hive closure, easy to fit with a half dozen small screws that don’t come with it. Call the gizmo a ‘mouse guard’ and if you want one they are in two widths, either 8 or 10 frames wide.
Cheers

The hive mat should be on the top of the top box under the roof. No matter if the top box has flow frames or conventional frames. It helps to retain some heat where it is needed in a hive to benefit the brood and in drying out the honey to be capped. It also helps in butting down comb building in the roof.
I use wired foundation exclusively in my hives both in the brood and in the supers as the bees wax here in Australia so far is fairly chemical free if the foundation is made here and not in China where they use a blend of paraffin wax and bees wax in making cheap foundation that is sold on EBay for example.
Cheers Fred

Thanks @Peter48 , @Rodderick seems to suggest it’s okay to have a hive mat on both the brood box and super… or have I read incorrectly?

If this is the case, I think it may alleviate some of clean up issues with excessive bur comb between the top of the brood frame and the QE. Then again, regular hive inspections would also help :sweat_smile: