Hi every I am new to bee keeping. I got my bees 1 week ago and installed the packages. One hive is completely dead and the other hive is buzzing with excitement. On the one that is still alive i have a top feeder with floats half full of sugar water mix. Most of the bees in the hive are up in the roof building comb pretty vigorously. How do I get them down in the hive not in the roof? There is a lot of moisture in the hive also. I did have a makeshift shelter over the hives for about 5 days because of the bad snow storms we had this week. Im thinking my shelter didn’t give the hives enough ventilation.
What sort of feeder are you using? I would try and use one that doesn’t let them up into the roof space, allows them to collect the sugar syrup and makes them build comb on your frames.
Sorry to hear about the loss of the other package.
Pictures might help understand your plight better. Also if you know the components of the hive describe what’s there and where. Something might not have been put in the right place.
the picture is of the inside of the flow roof above the feeder
it looks as if the colony is pretty much entirely in the roof? If that’s the case- I would shake them down into the brood box- being careful as the queen is probably in the roof. Then i’d cut out whatever comb they have made in the roof and shake whatever bees are on it down into the brood- and then I would cover the hole in the inner cover so they can’t get back into the roof.
I don’t quite understand how you feeder works- I don’t have any feeeders- but if you can do what I said above and still use that feeder- all good. But if not you may need to use a different type of feeder.
EDIT: if the bees have already put brood/eggs into the comb in the roof- you might want to cut it out and use rubber bands to put it in an empty frame downstairs. that’s assuming there are big enough pieces- I can’t tell from the photos.
Yes, something is a miss with your top feeder as it should allow the bees from the brood box up into the feeder but not above the feeder. I would suggest as @Semaphore is advising to shake all those bees back down into the brood chamber and then block them off from going into that roof section, an inner cover will do the trick (as long as the access hole in the middle is covered up)
I have taken a few photos of the feeder I use. I think it is a rapid feeder. Seems to work well with the hole in the cover. I put an empty ideal super over the top of it and a lid on top of that. I haven’t lost a bee to drowning. It is warm coming up from the boxes underneath and when you lift the top off the feeder, the bees can’t escape. I use 5 parts water to three parts white sugar. Some moisture comes from the bees evaporating the water out of the syrup mixture.
that looks like the ideal feeder for a flow hive- where did you get it?
I just use a jar with a bunch of small holes poked in the lid. It works well- the only issue is it doesn’t hold much. But then I rarely feed my bees.
I got it at the bee supply shop here in Tassie. I’ll try to find out the brand. It was cheap.
That’s a rapid feeder. It’s all I use.
Shame they are not widely available in the US.
Even though I use mine in conjunction with an empty ideal super, I did test to see if it fits under the Flow hive roof and it does…just. It takes 1.5 litres of syrup. Yes Dawn, you do see them on many online UK bee supply stores, but like the US, not too many in Aus. that I can see.
Do you need to feed your bees? Don’t they find enough flowers to collect enough to carry them over the winter? I might have a distorted memory but thought Tassie was a lot of bushland.
Hi Peter @Peter48 , good question. Lots of bush yes, but unlike the mainland, there is no reliable flowering of any of the eucalypts, so we are different in that respect. Only three plants flower reliably in the bush that I know of (I’m not in the bush by the way, I’m in suburbia). The most notable is the Leatherwood tree. It flowers every year. This is confined to the wet western half of the State as it needs a lot of moisture to thrive. I am in the dry east. Commercial operators access the leatherwood with migratory hives, but it is a complex system to get licences and so on to place the hives on Crown land. I can’t move my hives to the leatherwood sites unfortunately.
The other plant that reliably flowers is the Prickly Box (bursaria) which is on the mainland too, and it seems to flower every year. We call it the Christmas Bush. Beautiful honey that crystallises quickly and will set in Flow frames, and standard frames actually, if not promptly harvested. Unfortunately I am not in an area where these trees are abundant. They are just out of reach.
The third bush plant to flower every year is the common tea tree (leptospermum scoparium), from which the honey “manuka” is gathered. Again, not in the bush near me in any great numbers unfortunately.
Commercial beekeepers can access gums etc. when they flower, but generally need to move their hives. The limited numbers of gums near me are mainly the Black Peppermint (eucalyptus amygdalina) which are at least 8 years between flowerings. I’m in an urban area where many gums are being removed anyhow. In my observation I have a three month season in the year - from around September to early December; generally plums, apples, apricots, and garden ornamentals are the nectar source in spring. Just comparing climate too between where you and here, we only had 400mm of rain for the whole year last year and that doesn’t help, plus it is cool a lot of the time. Our maximum temperatures are roughly equivalent to your minimums if that makes sense. So if you get down to 8 at night in winter, that might be our maximum in winter. If you get down to 22 in summer overnight, that would be our maximum.
I fed two hives, neither of which I have ever removed any honey from. I had only one hive last year that produced a surplus, and that one of course I didn’t feed. I was experimenting and couldn’t believe how much syrup one hive consumed. I lost track, but it must have been 12kg of sugar, and they were drinking up about three litres day. Couldn’t believe it. Both these poor hives need new queens, but I can’t buy queen bees in Tasmania unfortunately and I haven’t seen a drone in at least 5 months.
Thanks for all your advice the hive is a lot dryer today now that I took the tarp structure off. I will put the bees downstairs tomorrow and put the inner cover on and close the hole so they can’t get up in the roof again.
Interesting reading your reply. Our winter here is commonly 8 to early 20’s and fairly stable with just a few nights cooler. Summer is 22 to 34 average with a wet season over summer so our climates are very different. I came here from west of Sydney and bee keeping here is so different I am thinking of myself as a newbee plus I was semi-commercial before and am working up to 6 hives here. Some of what I knew is relevant but some I have to accept as in the past. For example Spring doesn’t thump in up here, it comes with just a few degrees of temperature change and over a couple of months but there is always something positive for the bees in flower here now.
Where are you in Tassie? And have you thought of producing your own queens as you have 3 hives?
I’m not sure but it seems like there is something missing from the feeder. I’ve seen a similar feeder but it had a screen so the bees couldn’t build on the roof.
I “produce” my own queens as I can’t buy them, but by the time I realised my exisiting queens were duds this year, there were no drones left. I often think that by the time I realise something is wrong with the queen, the colony will probably already be onto it and will get rid of them by supercedure. I guess they realised they couldn’t this year as there were no drones, it has been very dry and now getting cool. What I am getting at, is that if I get the bees through the winter, they will probably set about replacing the queens themselves in spring. I’m in the South East of Tas.
If the Sunshine Coast isn’t one of the best places in the world to keep bees, I’ll eat one of my hats.