You folks are the BEST! It sure is nice to have my own private team of consultants I can turn to anytime I face something unknown. I'll try not to abuse the privilege!
After seeing the 3 answers above, I did some photo searching and also some reading. First, there is no doubt that you guys are right...wax moths it is! I find it pretty amazing that I live in an area that hasn't had any bee hives in many years, yet the first time I leave an empty one out was moths find it within months! It reminds me of finding persimmon bugs on my persimmons even though mine were the first persimmon trees within miles of my house for many years. To a lesser extent the same could be said for other fruit-tree specific pests....if no one near me grows fruit- and they don't- what have things like peach tree borers been eating before I planted trees and how did they find them so fast!!! Just interesting- no response required.
From what I read, it sounds like I can put all my frames in a freezer for a couple days and then store them inside and I'd probably be ok? Thanks
You can. If you haven't had a freeze yet, you'll still have adult moths and they will still reinfest and do damage. Store them outside so they can freeze. Many beeks freak when they see wax moth damage and burn their equipment when they see it, don't bee that guy! Just scrap the webs off to the chickens. WM will notch the wood but no harm. If WM becomes a big problem, get some para-moth moth crystals, follow directions! Don't get moth balls, different chemicals!! If you use the para-moth crystals, air the equipment out for a day or two before you put it on the bees.
Let me first say that I'm on cloud nine and am very much back in love with bee keeping. The last 10 days have been SHOCKING in terms of production by my hive. Shocking. In spite of the fact that it is now mid to late fall and I didn't think there was much left to bloom in my area, clearly I was WRONG! I noticed about 10 days ago that most of my returning bees were showing up with both of their leg "sacks" stuffed with either white or yellow pollen. HUGE amounts on about 80% of m bees returning to the hive. Using Bills great advice, I could tell just by lifting up on my hive that it was noticeably heavier. Today I did something I know you guys will frown on but curiositywas killing me so I opened my hive and checked most of my frames in most of my boxes. I was shock to find that I now have about 6 frames in my top box (I have 3 boxes total) are full to the hilt with honey and capped. Thats more than I've EVER had in my entire hive. Last time I looked most of those same frames were brood comb. Then I looked in my middle box (# 2 from bottom) and it has never had honey- only brood. But today it has about 3 frames filled with honey. The comb is much much much darker for whatever reason. These frames still have brood cells mixed in with honey cells- even on the same frame. Strange as it may seem, on my bottom box there are still probably 4 out of 10 frames that have very little or no comb of any kind. That makes no sense to me but what do I know.
OK....lets finally get to me questions:
1) HIVE BEETLES! I have them. I saw probably 15 to 20 of them (total) at different places in my hive. This blows my mind because most of what I have read says that if your hive is healthy and has a healthy bee population that the bees can probably control the beetles. One thing that everyone (who know bees) that has ever looked in my hive say is that I have an amazingly high number of bees. I am certain that my bee numbers are above average for a hive- I've never seen a single bee video where a hive looked to have 1/2 as many bees as I have in my hive. So I don't know why I have beetles? But I do. I don't know if 15-20 VISIBLE beetles is a large number, low number, etc. So I don't know if I have enough to do major damage or not? Either way, I suppose I should try to get rid of them. My question is (finally) HOW DO YOU RECOMMEND I DEAL WITH MY HIVE BEETLES? I've seen videos of people putting a layer of fluffy cotton (like the fluffy cotton back side of a table cloth) under the bottom box and suppossedly the bees chase the beetles down to the bottom and they get their legs caught in the fluff. I've also seen some chemical traps. I'm not organic and have no big problems with that....just want to know what you guys thing is most effective (doesn't need to be one of these 2 methods)
2) How do I determine how much honey I need to leave my bees for the winter and how much I can harvest. I'd rather not have an answer in weight because I don't really have much way to weigh things- but if thats the only way to answer then I'll figure it out. But on a highly populated 3 box hive (all are regular size boxes and not deep boxes) how much honey will they need? Can you estimate it by saying, for example, how many completely full and capped frames of honey would be needed (if so, specify if you mean both sides or 1 side of the frame full of capped honey). Also, if I really want to harvest most of my honey, can I just feed my bees all winter? I think @Chikn has suggested I just harvest every drop, let my bees die, and buy a new bee package(s) in the spring. Is that right Phil? This might be the simplest way, but it seems a little wasteful to not take advantage of the population I have built up this year. Also, that means I am basically paying $130 for whatever honey I'm able to get this year, which will make it pretty high since there won't be THAT much. But still, since I don't know a thing about winter care it might be what I should do????
3) Just a general question....I know I shouldn't be opening my hive up often if at all, but I have and probably will again next year a couple times. I try to be EXTREMELY careful to make sure I don't pull a frame out with the queen on it and let her fall off. But it certainly is a (tiny) possibility. Just out of curiousity, if somehow I did manage to knock the queen off of a frame I'm holding and didn't see her fall, would she (OR IS SHE CAPABLE) find a way to get back into the hive? Could/would she crawl or fly enough to get back in, or is she doomed if she gets dislodged (lets assume she doesn't get injured/killed but only falls off a frame). If she can't or doesn't get back in the hive, would all the other bees immediately abandon the hive (ie within a day or two)? If they had comb with nearly developed brood, if their queen was lost or destroyed as I've described, would they make a new one from that brood?
Sorry so long. I hope someone will take the time to wade through all this and answer my little questions. Thanks so much....for this time and those before it!! kevin
In zone 6, with Carny's, you'll need 60-80#. About a medium and 1/2. With Italian's...who knows. They will brood through the winter or until the food is gone. High pops. will usually die because they consume all their food. Sorry this isn't more positive.
I just checked wholesale honey prices for Ia., they will vary. About $2.30/lb. If the colony dies and you have used meds on it, that honey is usable for feed only. Wasted. If the colony dies the meds are Wasted, the wrap and labor is Wasted, your worry is Wasted. If you harvest even 55# of honey you break even, plus you get rid of Varroa mites and shb by not having bees around. That little bit of math doesn't include the experience you gained and the value of the drawn comb. Like I've told you before, take all the honey, store your equipment with moth crystals, don't worry, drink beer on Saturdays, sing Rocky Top after every Tennessee first down, and order new bees with a carny queen as close to the first of the year as possible.
I open colonies all the time, you can too. Once you have 7-8 frames of bees and brood, put the excluder on and UNLESS you have problems, don't look under that excluder until you take it off to get the honey. Problem solved, Trust me, all queens look the same except for color and you looking for the queen every 2 weeks will not help her lay more eggs or the colony produce more honey. From your experience, you need to figure out by just lifting the lid if you need a super. I'm sure that info is in the packet of material I sent you. No, I'm positive it is.
Queens fly away, get crushed, die, stop laying, all the time, they are just bugs after all. Queens are hard to dislodge from the comb. The colony will start to replace her from freshly laid eggs within 20-30 mins. They are so good at this, they will even pick eggs that are produced continuously just for this purpose, called royal caste eggs.
Bees will not leave brood, some people call it a lock, especially with swarms. I routinely lock swarms with a frame of brood.
Some beeks, commercial especially, routinely shake all there bees off the combs in front of the colony when they harvest brood in the spring, so yes the queen can get home too.
I do not suggest you let your bees die, just wish them good luck for the winter!
Thank-you is not enough, but thank-you. I believe with all my heart that your work and answers and those of others, will make this thread live forever and be of great service to others who are first time beekeepers. And btw...I know some things I ask are in the info you sent me. I was so excited when I got that packet from you that say down and read the whole thing the very night after I got it. That was just too much info for this beginner, and I have planned to re-read it all summer. I will certainly do that this winter.
Thanks again for all the great answers.
One quick question- you said "Bees will not leave brood" are you talking about when I pull a frame out that has brood on it- that they will cling to it? Just curious.
So, I think my so-called advisor gave me some bad/incorrect information. I'm not upset at him- he told me up front that he isn't a true expert, just a guy who has kept bees for several years, and readily admitted there is a lot he doesn't know and I should seek out other opinions.
Anyway, here is the thing. In early fall I noticed that I had almost no honey in my hive (as I've often talked about here) and I sort of panicked and started feeding my bees large amounts of sugar water. Sure enough, the "honey" supply in my hive went up a lot. In fact, I now have enough capped comb that I think I can safely harvest at least a few frames. I guess I should have stopped feeding much earlier (if I really needed to feed at all, which I probably didn't). But yesterday I cut a very small piece of capped comb out of a frame and put it in a little jar. When I got inside, I noted it was very light in color, and it tasted pretty much like sugar water. In fact, I guess (???) that is exactly what it is...the bees just took my sugar water and put it into cells until they dried it sufficiently to cap.
I was complaining about this to my mentor and he said if I'd stop feeding and leave everything alone, the stuff in the combs would "ferment" into honey. He said (and again, admitted he wasn't sure so this isn't about faulting a guy who is just trying to help and admitting he could be wrong) that when the bees swallow the sugar water, it mixes with their enzymes in their stomach, and then they regurgitate it into comb, and then as it sits there and dries and the enzymes react with it, it sort of becomes honey. He says it won't become true, pure honey and thats why people shouldn't sell it, but that if I want to keep and use it, that if it stays in the hive for a while it will turn into something closer to honey than sugar water.
I have a lot of doubts about this being true, but I need to hear from you all. If I have frames that were filled only because the bees had unlimited sugar water available and put most of it into comb, will it ever be worth eating as honey or will I pretty much just have thick sugar water?
well crap. Thats what I was afraid of. So now that I actually have enough capped frames with something in them, I still can't really harvest because most of it is probably just sugar water. Worse still, when I've stuck a knife into a few frames, some of them do "bleed" an amber liquid that looks and tastes like honey, but other frames seem to have the clear sugar syrup. THe difference isn't stark enough to easily tell which is honey and which is sugar syrup, and even within some frames part seems to be honey and part sugar water. I'd desperately like to harvest some honey....but just don't know how now. This is confusing. Once you feed your bees sugar water, does that mean you can't harvest from that hive any more that year? SHOOT!
THanks to you both for confirming that. @clarkinks I really want to hear a little more about what you are saying. You see, I am confident that you are right in that my bees are still collecting pollen and maybe nectar. When I watch them flying back to the hive I notice that a lot of them have either yellow or bright orange pollen sacks that are really big on their legs. So hopefully that means that they are still making honey. But even if that if true and there is "hope" as you said, if I harvest some honey this year how will I know which is the sugar water and which is real honey? Even the sugar water stuff has a very light yellow tint, so its hard to tell which is syrup vs honey.
Also, my bees don't seem to be making much more comb at all at this point. Strangely, what they are making has larger cells than what they made the rest of the year.
Bees fly as long as the weather stays above 50 degrees. As long as you stop feeding sugar now what they use will be replaced with good honey. You can pay attention to the cells that are uncapped now and that will be your real honey. I can see the color difference when I pull a frame out. Aster honey is very dark and you can see that darkness in the comb even when the honey is capped. Comb is semi see through because the caps are made from new wax (which is lighter colored).
Me neither!! My beekeeping mentor said a quart of aster honey would ruin a barrel of good honey. Tried some differing honeys at our farmers market yesterday. Some had bottled nectar(too early, fermented) and some hadn't harvested early enough(asters). Quite a mix.
I honestly believe this thread will be extremely helpful to other people just like me who know nothing whatsoever about bee keeping but decide to give it a try, so on behalf of myself and future readers, thanks for all the help you folks have been giving.
SO, I spent a good deal of time watching videos of people harvesting a few frames of honey without a centrifuge. They neatly cut off the caps with a sharp, unheated knife. Then they just stand the frame of now-open capped honey up in a bucket and wait 24 hours and whala....lots of honey in the bucket and almost none in the comb in the frames.
But then I tried it today. I was able to cut the caps of quite well and in big smooth sheets. I was happy. But when I stand the de-capped comb/frames up, very little honey runs out! What gives? Is my honey too thick? Do I have to just cut all the comb out of the frame and mash it and squeeze it out? I was hoping not to do that because I did so well cutting the caps off the comb that I thought I might be able to put the frames back in the hive and see if the bees might refill and recap them. What should I do?
The honey comb is designed not to leak nectar before it is cured. This is done by angling the cells at a slight upward angle on both sides of the centerline. Turn the comb upside down and it should slowly drain.
I've read and watched videos and seen your advice today, and all I can say is I have yet another bizarre happening. Its upside down, its in a warm room, its definitely de-capped, and yet it just won't come out like its supposed to! Its as if gravity isn't working. Certainly some has come out, and the good news is I picked a frame of real honey and not sugar water (thanks to some of your help) so what's coming out is good honey, albeit quite thick.
Oh well. I'll give it overnight and tomorrow if there is still a large amount in the comb I'm going to just tear it out in strips and squeeze and work it all out.
BTW....one of my many dumb questions.....if things were working correctly and I was able to cleanly cap the comb and drain it, am I correct in understanding that ideally I would save the empty comb and put it back in the hive for the bees to clean and refill? thanks