Saturday, March 10, 2012

Confusing Bees and installing a Hive Stand

Just returned from the NCSBA (North Carolina State Beekeepers Association). Great meeting and learned lots.  My wife and I have enjoy watching Gold Rush on the Discovery Channel.  This is about some common American guys that make lots of mistakes as they try to strike it rich by mining for Gold in Alaska.  Turns out to get an ounce of gold takes sifting through tons of material. 

One of the nuggets from the NCSBA meeting we rediscovered is the idea of confusing honeybees.  Turns out that honeybees are three dimensional navigators and when returning to their hive they don't check out the box the way we humans would.  Instead they fly to the 3 dimensional coordinates they remember and go in.  If you have been following along with us you will remember we recently captured a swarm off a rock in front of our Charlotte hive.  The swarm is a small one and the bees are just a small cluster. 
  • So how to beef up the hive? 
  • Wouldn't it be a nifty thing to get a larger hive of bees to help out the smaller one?
Solution, CONFUSE OUR BEES.

The plan called for us to swap the location of the larger hive with the smaller one.  When the bees from the larger hive return to their old location, the smaller hive would be there to welcome them in.  The theory goes that returning bees with pollen, nectar or propolis are welcome.  Lots of bees, lots of comb built out in a hurry so the new hive's progress is accelerated.

STEP 1 - Build and Install a new Hive Stand


STEP 2 - Confuse the bees

The reason for the new bee stand is we have larger plans for the bee yard and want to have extra room on the beehive stand.  We have gone from a 4' hive stand to 8'.  To make life easier, we put the longer stand in front of the old one. 

Once we had the larger stand in place, we proceeded to swap beehive locations.  Moving Tzion, our new swarm hive, went well.  The bees seemed to be reading their manual and nicely flying into the new hive at the old location.

Vav Hive and the problems begin - Our old hive consisted of 1 deep (brood), 1 shallow (brood), 1 shallow (honey), 1 medium (wax foundation - hey, this was all we had).  When we bought the hive about a year ago, we hated the wooden ware.  A nice warm spring day seemed like just the opportunity to move our bees into clean new wooden ware and a screen bottom.  We went from 9 frames to 10 deep frames with 2 new frames installed and 1 old frame removed. Spotted 3 supersedure cells but didn't have the gear to split the hive.  UGH!

The deep move completed - We moved, shook and brushed bees into the new box praying we didn't roll our queen.  Thinking about it, with all of the queen cells, this was an okay time since we had tons of bees and new queens on the way. Few hive beetles and no mites to speak of.

The bees hated us.
      Smoke and a blizzard of bees.

You will probably disagree with our decision but we added a deep with new frames above the old deep.  We like deep brood boxes and think shallows don't provide enough room for the bees.

Shallow of brood, shallow of honey and an medium to build out for honey and we were done.

Did we kill our bees in both hives?

Time will tell.

Bee Boy Out.

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