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I stuffed up. (◕︵◕)

Hi all. It’s been four years in the making, and I bloody stuffed it.

I’ve been doing my homework, researching, watching videos, going to meetings for 4 years and I finally got my Flowy setup ready, and today was the day. 6am I picked up my first ever colony. The bees were buzzing in the box and so was I.

The nice gentleman offered help to put the colony in my hive, but I was confident I could handle it, so I politely declined. I need to learn on my own anyway. Or so I thought.

The 4 frame nuc was jam packed with comb. The frames were stuck the sides all the way down to the bottom. Nothing like I saw on videos, or I was prepared for.

I managed the separate three of the frames, but one, oh my… yeah, it broke. In hind sight, maybe I should have got a long knife and cut the comb off the sides. Sad story is, more than half the comb of that frame stayed in the nuc, brood and all. I removed one of the empty frames I had prepared and placed the broken comb inside the broodbox - hopefully they will recycle it, and one day forgive me. Her majesty was nowhere to be found, but I was flustered and probably missed her. Possibly killed her too.

I’m ashamed and embarrassed. Day 1, I killed bees. Big time. My balloon is deflated and confidence gone.

Any help and advice from the wise boys and girls of this forums, is truely appreciated.

Hi Stefan, believe me almost all of us made those sort of mistakes when we started. It is normal and part of the learning process. You will become a better beekeeper because of this.
Meanwhile, could you get another local beekeeper to give you a hand with sorting out the nuc?

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Welcome,
New beekeepers tend to be overly harsh on themselves and as long as you put all the bees into the new box there is a chance the queen went in as well. I rarely see my queens, but I know they are in my hives by looking for laying activity, capped brood etc.

Use rubber bands to hold the broken section of the comb into a frame and the girls will fix everything up.

Bees are much more resilient than people think.

Trying to be gentle and not killing bees is a noble goal and everyone should strive to do this, however, there are always casualties when opening and closing the boxes, just remind yourself of how many bees there are in the colony and how many die of natural causes daily and you will soon place one or two deaths into perspective.

You are in the absolutely best State of Australia to have bees as a hobby, (known bloodlines and relatively disease and pest free) we are a friendly lot and understand our unique environment.

The main thread for us sandgropers in this forum is:
https://forum.honeyflow.com/t/perth-wa-au-flowhives-and-honey-flow

Where in WA are you located?

Terry

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Hi Stefan, and welcome to bee keeping, things can only get better for you after today.
It is a lot harder than it appear to be watching a video and really your mistake was in not accepting the offer of help in installing the nuc, even if he only watched on and gave advice.
I wonder if the nuc had been made up too long ago and that is the reason the frame failed. Or if it wasn’t nailed up properly when it was made.
If you didn’t see the queen dead so chances are is that she is still alive so when you do your first inspection you might see her or at least see new larvae in the comb.
Cheers

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Thank you people. I’ trying to recompose myself after the let down.

I’m a bit isolated inland here and the only one I know wanted 250 aussiebucks to come when I asked some time ago. I thought that was a bit out of my budget.

Yes Terry, I came across that procedure on Youtube when capturing wild hives, and it did cross my mind. To my disappointment, the broken comb that came off the frame, is in very small pieces. I doubt it is practical to hold with rubber bands - but I’ve been wrong before.They are the size of 50c or a bit bigger. Biggest is 7cm x 5cm. I laid them in the bottom of the broodbox - is that the wrong thing to do?

You bet. To be fair, I was about an hour’s drive away, and the beekeeper that sold me the colony didn’t know how far I travelled before he offered assistance.

I think so too Peter. The wooden frame itself is still ok, but I think the nuc was split from a hive a while back and was not inspected regularly, so the bees built the comb in the only space they had left. I can’t complain it (was) not a strong colony.

So. What are the chances that they will pick up the broken comb I left inside the hive and they’ll recover. I was planning on making my first inspection next weekend.

I also gave them some sugar syrup.

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In a scale from 1 to 10, how much did I stuff up? How serious is this?

The issue is not a big one in the grand scheme.

If the pieces are as small as you say then it is probably best to remove them in about 2 weeks when you do the first inspection.

There are a couple of so-called professionals praying on new beekeepers in WA. Sometimes I wish the industry was better organised and that people charging for services were required to be registered.

Private message me and we can arrange a free telephone consultation :slight_smile:

Terry

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Your bees won’t lift broken comb but you can use rubber bands to hold it in place so that it is in the correct alignment to the frame.
$250 to come and help you, that is a bit rich. I have gone as far as 550klm’s to help a fellow bee keeper out and my fee was a bottomless cup of coffee and lunch which his wife made up. I have another trip about the same this week, my reward is in helping a fellow bee keeper out, if emails and pics don’t give me enough info I’m not inclined to leave them to possibly loose a hive. There are many on this forum who are happy to give their time for a fellow bee keeper.
Cheers Stefan

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Thanks for that offer Terence, your a gentleman of the first order.
Cheers

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There is no way of knowing without a photo but I’m sure @SouthEastScarp will be well worth talking to and take his advice.
Cheers

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Hang in there, @Numbatino! After all, stuffing it up is everyone’s newbie motto :mega::wastebasket: Your post reminded me of the awful moment I had during my very first inspection, when a frame of beautiful new comb filled with nectar crashed to the floor of the hive as soon as I tried to lift it up. Terry & Peter are so right - along with the sterling advice and encouragement they so reliably give, they make the excellent points that we are too hard on ourselves as we learn sometimes, and bees are better at dealing with crisis than we give them credit for.

You did a great job gathering information and motivation, now it’s time for the skill-building phase that can only happen through doing, stuffing up, and doing again :laughing: Your post shows your honest intentions and efforts that can only improve because you’re so open to input :+1:

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These things happen. Some good advice already provided.

I can not pick were on the scarp you are. But with over 3000 beekeepers in WA I’m sure there is someone close to you who would be up for a chat, maybe even someone on this forum.

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Welcome @Numbatino , my first time in the hive was a sticky mess too…

I encountered cross combing everywhere because the frames moved from transport and were not pushed up tight against each other. I even broke off a brood comb with fresh eggs and larvae (felt like a mass serial killer).

The frames and combs never look as good as the ones on youtube, so my first inspection was quite confusing.

I recently attempted my first hive spilt and left a sticky mess after (and killed more bees). Whilst the bees will clean up. I had to help a bit and clean up the bottom board a few days after as I discovered honey had flooded the floor.

The bees are still around… they are resilient little things. Keep at it, the experience will come.

Cheers
Fred

Sting Count:3

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Hi @Numbatino,
If you include in your profile where you are in WA. If not the closest town (preferable),South West, Wheatbelt, Goldfields, Mid West, North West will give readers a better understanding of your environment. :slightly_smiling_face:

Tend not to think of stuffuffs in terms of 1-10. I always think of “when things go wrong” as education and learn from my mistakes. The person who does not make mistakes does not do anything at all.

Beekeeping is no different to other live stock business (bees are classed as livestock under WA law) ,you have to feed and water them, give them shelter and protect them from disease. So get back in there.
I would leave them be for two or three weeks and just see what happens. Does not take much for the hive to regenerate if there is some brood, honey and pollen. The guys above are much more experienced than I so all their advice is good.

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Since Stefan @Numbatino has started a well-named thread I thought we all could add some other recent fun event. Mine happened today.

I inspected my Flow hive today as I wanted to see how the girls were doing with the extra brood box. I also wanted to move frames around as there are a couple of old black comb frames in the bottom brood box that I wanted out of the hive.

Looking in the second brood box, four frames were fully loaded with capped honey, three frames were top crowned and one frame was a mixture of brood and honey. As usual, the girls had build cross comb filled with honey, through the queen excluder onto the bottom of the flow frames.

Herein lyeth the lesson:

After reassembling the hive I took the four full frames of honey into my undercroft (workshop), the bees never follow me into my dark cave :face_with_hand_over_mouth: I think they are scared of the dark :rofl:

As I was placing the last frame onto the holding frame, my grip slipped, I dropped the frame onto the concrete floor. As it hit :see_no_evil: the wires snapped and pulled through the comb and the frame and comb separated. Looking in disbelief :open_mouth: ugly gashes had appeared across the uniformly waxy white surface, golden honey, the nectar of the gods, began to ooze out onto the cold floor :frowning:

I stood there momentarily in disbelief. I was still fully suited up, I hadn’t completed my defrocking routine, I could still hear at least one bee buzzing around my head in anger, there was likely to be more waiting their chance to sting me. I stooped down, picked up the now bleeding frame, opened the door into the main house, and walked, very quickly, across the lower foyer, up the stairs, through the dining room and into the kitchen :relieved: I gently placed the bleeding, broken comb and frame into the clean kitchen sink. :relieved: Saved :relieved:

Then, I looked down; my gloves and suit were saturated with honey :thinking: I looked like a cross between the Michelin Man and a shiny golden ghost :crazy_face:

I turned around and looked behind me: see_no_evil: and there :hear_no_evil::speak_no_evil: shining like a thousand jewels, I saw a trail of fresh honey :honey_pot: that led from the kitchen and around the corner. :thinking:

I followed the trail of liquid :open_mouth: stepped carefully, down the carpeted stairs :open_mouth: making sure to avoid the golden globules that adorned them. As far as I could see there were little golden pools slumping and spreading across the floor, stepping left and right, I walked on and into the workshop where a small slab of broken bleeding wax lay on the cold hard floor. The trail had stopped. :relieved: I had returned to the scene of the crime

I stood there for a moment to contemplate the moment, smiled :smiley: and realised my wife wasn’t home :relieved:

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Oh… thank you all for the taps on the back. Appreciate that.

My wife did tell me to take my phone but how do you operate the phone with thick gloves on? I didn’t want to take them off and get stung. I didn’t want to complicate things on my first nuc transfer.

That I knew. But I thought they will reuse the wax and honey? Rubber bands is not practical so I will take the advice and remove the small bits I left in the hive.

Thanks for the photo. Did you just leave the broken comb in front of the hive Fred? Isn’t that inviting pests? That’s why I decided to leave mine inside the hive.

Do you think so? I was going to open up again the hive for the first inspection this weekend, after one week. Maybe I should let them recover more before I disturb them again then.

The gum trees around me are in flower buzzing with bees and am afraid that hey will rapidly build comb all over the place again, so hoping I could keep that in check. I also want to look for the queen to make sure she is still there.

You are so awesome Terry, thank you so much. I will PM you.

Well, to my credit, the thing I that was mostly worried of, did not happen. I was not overwhelmed by the cloud of bees around me. My wife who was watching from inside said I was covered with bees, which I didn’t even notice. My suit must be good too as I didn’t get stung.

I think in the ideal world, I should have a mentor, but I admit I can’t afford one. Found another one close to me, but wanted $200 per half hour, including travel. I also prefer to learn and be able to solve problems on my own.

Probably the the question I should have asked was - What should you do if you find comb suck to the sides, all the way down in the hive? Cut it with a long knife?

Oh dear…is this common?

Thanks for a great laugh to start the day, Terry :joy::joy::joy:

One of my big stuff-ups was failing to unstick heavily propolized boxes all the way before lifting the top one off, leading to stepping on a large stick as I strained to get a better grip. The other end of the stick whipped me in the face, and I finished my routine by toppling the whole hive as I lost balance and lunged sideways because it wouldn’t come apart :scream: …then I ran…and stood dumbstruck for a few minutes before finally going back to try to fix the mess.

Those bees never liked me again. They swarmed later on, and things got better.

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It is worth trying to work on the hive without gloves on if you can overcome the fear. With less chance of being stung, just give them a puff or two of smoke if they get overly active. You will do the work with a ‘softer touch’ so the bees will remain calmer. I seldom wear gloves unless the bees are obviously angry when I lift the roof. work smooth and slowly and you will find they are much calmer.
Maybe you can find a local bee group to learn from. Anyone that wants to charge that sort of money I would give them a miss - by a country mile. Even a couple of beginner working together helping each other is better than working alone.
To get the comb off the side of a box use the chisel end of your hive tool, it is made for the job.
Cheers

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Thanks Peter. I saw bees stinging my gloves, so I think for now I will keep wearing them. I read about the nitrile ones, and maybe I will try those first. I agree with you, bare hands is much gentler - and I will get there eventually.

OK. I thought I needed something longer than my hive tool though so that it will reach the bottom of the nuc box while still have a handle to grab it from And sharper for less damage. Next time I will use that.

I left it there until sunset. Then I binned it (possibly another newbie mistake). I’ve since learnt I could have rubber band it into another frame (but I didn’t have spares). Or it can be rendered down and the scraps composted… live and learn.

For my photos I now use a digital SLR. It has a shutter button instead of a touch screen. :slight_smile:

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