Bee Keeping here I come!


Now thats just crazy talk :slight_smile:[quote=“Chikn, post:480, topic:4536”]
If you are not beekeeping in singles, you should think about it, your honey harvest will go up
By singles I take it you mean medium supers?

I really like your suggestion to use 9 frames instead of 10. I did that in the brood box when I put my 5 frame nuc in, I only added 4 empties so as not to hurt any bees trying to squeeze in 10. I think I will do that in my honey supers as well, easier to get them in and out without hurting any workers.

Poor Kevin! You worked him over so much earlier that I visualize him walking out to his hives and looking over both shoulders to make sure you’re not watching him before he opens them!:grin:


I have to ask, so, soak a super and frames before installing? They like the humidity?


Sorry Kevin but I did chuckle over that line.


I would be inclined to think he means one freshly emptied, still “damp” with honey


Thanks for the clarification. Seeing how many bee’s I have this year compared to last I did buy a 2 frame extractor and a hot knife so I could quickly harvest and then throw the comb back in the supers. . .


Use 10 frames in a single deep super for a brood box. 9 frames in your medium honey supers. This would sit on a screened bottom board with a sheet of plywood as the lid. with the scraper end of a hive tool you should be able to make enough room to remove frames from a deep super without crushing or rolling bees. Move slowly and the bees will get out of your way.
A wet super is the honey super and frames stored without turning the bees loose on them in the fall.
I never used a hot knife for extracting honey. I could taste the scorch in the honey and those knifes are expensive and fragile. You also have to drain all those cappings and I always hated loosing that good honey to the wax melter. I had a Russian beek show me how to use a capping scratcher and used that most of my career. I got as fast as using a knife but it does have a filtering difficulty.


Hey…I haven’t even been in 100 yards of my hives-let alone OPEN ONE- since @Chikn worked me over! haha. I’m afraid Phil might be using a satellite to watch me! haha. Heck, I’m so scared I haven’t even logged on here for a while. haha (actually just been busy getting ready to leave town a few days).

All that being said, and don’t have a stroke Phil, but I really have been thinking its time to open a hive…but hold on…I have a reason besides my curiosity. You see, this year I started off by only using 2 boxes (in other words, both my hives only consist of a total of 2 medium boxes- no deep brood box, etc). Last year I started with 3 and added a 4th way to soon and I got to learn about how bees will not use the outside frames but instead just keep moving up as long as they have lots of space. So thanks to some of you, this year I just used 2 boxes and haen’t added more. I’ve been thinking its probably time to do that, but as @Klondike_Mike correctly and humorously points out, I’ve been to scared to open my hive and see if all the frames are full! haha. Sooooo…what say you (even you, @Chikn), should I check to see if my 2 boxes and 20 frames are all drawn? If they are, should I just add one box at a time? If they aren’t, should I not add any boxes? Or should I do something else? Thanks!


You need to peek every week, don’t tear 'em down, just peek. If they continue to develop normally, you have no reason to see the queen, she’s ok. She told me!:slight_smile:

Because your bees are handy, one box at a time; before you add another, the box needs to be 85% full of honey. That’s happening every 4-5 days here in central Ia. Mix foundation and drawn comb, alternating, in the new boxes you add. Get those new boxes full and heavy before you add another. Slip your hive tool between the two boxes and tilt the top box up, heavy=full. Don’t do that w/o an excluder, it puts your queen in mortal risk.


Great advice, as usual. Did you just give me permission to look inside!!! :slight_smile: Actually, I should have been more clear in the past and might have stayed in your better graces…almost all I’ve ever done is take the top off and look down in the hive…maybe pull out one or two frames that are on top to see if they have honey or brood. But I’ve almost never actually got down into my hive and/or pulled out multiple frames to look for the queen. Even without you telling me, I’ve always been terrified that if I did much of that I might harm or even drop the queen outside the hive or something.

btw- out of pure curiousity, if that ever happens…If I ever did kill or let the queen outside the hive, would the whole hive probably just leave or would they make a new queen? Thanks


A rule of thumb; bees won’t leave brood. A frame of brood added to a hived swarm is a ‘lock’, they won’t leave. 70% chance they will reproduce a queen. After 3 weeks and they remain queenless, add a frame with plentiful eggs, if they are still queenless after another three weeks, combine them w/ another colony with newsprint.

How to tell if a colony is queenless.

  1. After you smoke the hive and you open it, the bees ‘roar’. Loud. aggressive buzzing.
  2. Brood nest is full of nectar.
  3. No fresh eggs
  4. No brood. Check more frequently, it takes 3+ weeks for the brood to hatch out of the colony.
  5. No stored honey.
  6. Laying workers. Workers start to lay as soon as brood pheromone is gone from the hive because BF inhibits workers ovaries from developing. Workers are infertile and only lay drone brood. If you stumble upon a colony with 50% drones and drone brood laid in the middle of the brood nest, you have laying workers. Dump the bees out of this hive,(yes on the ground, you can’t salvage it, if you try to join it you are introducing hundreds of ‘queens’ into a good colony), and pick up the equipment and store it. In the winter scrape the drone comb off the frames and let a new colony redraw the comb.


One of your most informative posts ever…and that is really saying something! I found all of that extremely interesting, so thanks for that! I also found it somewhat hopeful. I had it in my head that if something happened to the queen that the whole hive would be abandoned in a very short amount of time. Sounds like that isn’t necessarily the case! Very cool. THanks, Phil!


Great summary chikn. My mentor helped me identify a queenless hive this spring. TONS of drone cells and you can definitely hear the difference between a queenright and queenless hive if you listen. I tried to fix the hive with two frames of brood and eggs from a different hive but the girls refused to make a new queen. So I threw some newspaper on top of an existing queen right hive and combined the two. That hive has cranked out a ton of honey this year.


The bees definitely won’t fly away I saw that first hand this spring when one of my hives went queenless. Typically you can fix that by adding a couple frames of brood and eggs to let them create a new queen cell. You can definitely tell that a hive is queen right if you listen closely. They sound calm and act very businesslike. When they don’t have a queen you can hear a dull angry roar and if you watch the bees they look agitated. I’m glad my mentor forced me to listen / observe when my hive was queen less. That was a good teaching moment.


That’s good advice. My mentor told me to always have a plan before I go into a hive. Do the bees need more super space to store nectar? Are we checking to make sure we have a queen? Making a split? As soon as you answer your question get out of the hive. It’s a very stressful experience for the bees so doing it less frequently is always preferable. Now when I check for a queen I put hive drapes over the brood box, pull one frame and if I see larvae or eggs I’m done. If I check the top super and see space to put nectar I’m done. I’m still trying to figure out the optimal time between visits which is an extremely tricky question to answer. During a heavy flow you obviously need to check more often since a ton of nectar is coming in. Once the dearth hits I minimize visits to avoid letting the honey smell permeate.


How do folks here deal w/ harvesting honey when 95% of the frame is capped and 2% is uncapped? Do you use a refractometer to check moisture content once you extract? I’ve never worried about it and just extracted and stored the honey in cool dry places. Curious if the slight moisture content in the uncapped honey could lead to the honey fermenting in storage.


A couple weeks ago a swarm attached to a bald cypress… I made some phone calls and some people came and got it. I walked right up to the swarm several times even after the swarm had been dropped into the box and there were bees that didn’t get ‘included’. I was right there with them. They were so calm.

My current screensaver.

It was quite the experience. I never saw anything like this prior during my life.



Very cool, thanks for posting!


Yep, you bet. I’d have a tummy like a cartoon bear if I got into beekeeping! I love honeycomb. ahhh Just the thought.



That’s how swarms are , very special


swarms are pretty cool too, jason. :slight_smile: haha. I couldn’t resist…reread your post and you’ll see what I mean.

@Barkslip : thanks for posting those cool pics. I’m really glad you got to have that experience because you sound like you were as excited about it as I was the first time I saw one 3 years ago. It impressed me so much that just seeing that one swarm inspired me to get into bee keeping, which I’ve enjoyed very, very much. Since you enjoyed seeing the hive and watching them caught and since you don’t seem to be afraid of bees based on your comments, and since you love honey and comb so much, you ought to give be keeping a try too. Don’t forget that in addition to the things I just mentioned, bee keep also gives your fruit trees a better chance at higher pollination rates. Hey, if I can do it ANYONE can!