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Urgent - Bees

 
Alison Thomas
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I bought a Warre hive last year and finally got some bees for it on 14th June
this year. These bees are what I think is called a nuc – some bees, brood and
honey – and they came in a cardboard dadant frame-type 'hive'. On 3rd of July I
brushed the bees down into one of my Warre boxes, put a queen excluder on top of
the Warre box, then put the frames and brood and the cardboard box back on top
of the box I'd just 'filled'. I covered the spaces where the dadant box wasn't
quite as wide as my Warre, and put a sheet of hardboard on top of the cardboard
box to keep it dry. It has stayed that way since and the bees have been busy.

The guy who sold me the nuc said that the brood would have all hatched within 25
days and that I could then remove the dadant box and run the Warre hive as
normal.

So I've just been to remove the cardboard box but HELP - the Warre box is
completely empty, no comb built atall and that's in 5 weeks. The frames are
still buzzing with activity.

There was a dead queen on top of the queen excluder and seven opened queen cells
(though they didn't seem very long). Is it that a queen didn't get brushed into
the bottom box? I was very thorough, brushed them all into a big cardboard box
and then tipped them all into the Warre but I was unable to see a queen at that
point - I just took the seller's word that there was one.

I have now brushed all the frames back into the Warre box though I didn't have a
big cardboard box to be able to do a shake so I had to brush them, and have put
the frame box on top again like before. Again I couldn't see a queen, too many
bees. Have I done the wrong thing?

I have added the second brood box so that I don't have to disturb the bees too
much when I hopefully go and remove the cardboard box.

Help, are they all going to fly away in horror at my ineptitude?
Is there something else I should be doing?
Is there more info you need as I don't even know what the questions might be?

I'm gutted.
 
Saybian Morgan
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Location: Lower Mainland British Columbia Canada Zone 8a/ Manchester Jamaica
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Did you put wax on your warre top bars?
I'm trying to figure out why your using a queen excluder, the queen has free range in a warre hive. The sup's are added at the bottom to support the hive's natural downwards progression of comb and brood.

I've had concerns myself about what is the best method for working with nuc's, because it's so adapted to dadant hives. The only real evidence you were sold a queen is the brood chambers on the nuc. If the nuc isn't considered to be incorporated into the top bar's it's plausible they wont consider it usable space until there colony maxes out. The fear is they still consider it unusable space and swarm.

So do your top bar's have wax painted on them? if not there likely as attractive as building comb randomly on the wall of the hive.

Do give the bee's my best, there so patient with us fumbling humans
 
Alison Thomas
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Thanks for your reply SaybianTv.  Yes they do have wax lines all of the bars and the brood chambers (sup's) were added at the bottom. So from the bottom up there's base stand and entrance, brood box (now two in hopefulness) with waxed tp bars, queen excluder, cardboard dadant nuc box with hole cut in bottom, a piece of hardboard to protect the cardboard from the weather.

The queen excluder was to stop the 'shook' queen from going back into the dadant box to lay.  The guy who sold them to me said that the bees would build comb in the bottom box (Warre) and then she'd lay there. They obviously didn't and the queen (if there was one, and I'm beginning to doubt it) who must have been feeling all lonely in her empty warre box has absconded and died somewhere.

I've been fretting as to whether I should remove the queen excluder and just let them have free access between the dadant and the Warre. 

Now it's beginning to dawn on me that this colony will sadly probably die out as there's probably no viable queen, therefore no new brood and so nothing to keep the generations going. It makes me sad, remorseful and frustrated.... and angry with the guy who sold them to me.
 
Saybian Morgan
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I'd take that queen excluder out pronto, the laying of wax and the filling of that wax is kinda a group decision by the bee's. The hole point of a queen excluder is to force bee's to build in the opposite direction than they would naturaly.  Bee's are really tough on the new apiarist and really forgiving at the same time.  When I first got my bee's I bought two but with all the horror stories of failure's I decided on buying 3 and building an extra box while they waited in a tube in the greenhouse way past their release date.  Somehow all that was no problem.
I forgot to hold onto a clip the guy warned me about and in the panic of bee's flying out of a tube, shaking bee's into the warre box, and flipping the box into position, I dropped the queen cage on the ground, and got stung by some other's for my failure. In my panic i yanked out the fondant and checked the box in the middle between the two boxes.  Their now my strongest colony and I even scraped a few days worth of honey off their initial feeder box.

The second hive which I did perfectly like clockwork, is now gone. No disease, no dead bodies, just a few combs and a clean hive as if it all never happened. I remember one day I was flipping the compost and I swear i saw a slug heading for the entrance, when I looked back all I saw was a big bloated jelly thing at the entrance. By the time I said what the heck it was gone, and ever since then id see less and less activity, and in a few days none. I really believe bee's are in the thick of natural selection and with all the humanizing we do, were and they are subject to random losses unfortunately, and many a directly caused loss.

I still don't truly mentally  see how your getting them out, the nuc box is inside of the warre hive? or on top? I couldn't figure out where your quilt box and roof where in the equation. Not that I advocate working with nuc's as it's the most difficult to addapt to warre hive's but it's to be expected when you want bee's and you have to get them from dadant hive people.  After you brushed all the bee's off the frame, you tried to lock the queen into the warre box with the excluder in theory, and put the box with frame's inside on top?  how much wider where the dadant frames than your warree box? I always thought id' have to break the frame so that I could lay the 3 frames that come with the box into the warre hive next to the empty top bar's, close it all up and I wouldn't get to remove those foreign frames until harvest. 
It sounds like and please correct me if I'm miss assembling your hive in my mind, a carboard hive with a hole in it, on top of a warre hive with no roof? and each time you shake em into the warre hive, they just go back to their regular hive.

Bee's are pretty good at going straight home, I moved one of my hive's over 4 feet to get better sun since i lost a colony to that mystery slug. The bee's started to crowd the cinderblock it was resting on like they were trying to set up something. For hour's they would leave the hive and try to enter an invisible hive 4 feet away.  So them going back to the carboard box is a pretty strong homing act.  If your queen is dead, your colony will run out of bees in 6 weeks, as their lifespan shorten's in the summer. 

I can't say I know how to get the queen out of a nuc situation, even if she's been painted so she could bring the colony's homing instinct to the warre box. It seems like a setup for a mad chase where crushing is highly likely, I can't stand when bee's get crushed when i'm shifting boxes around, but things can get pretty madcapped for the inexperienced. 

At this point all I can say is go for broke, remove the excluder, hope the queen's still their and she like's the warre box well enough to expand out of the nuc which she probably is still in.  If there's any chance you can even poorly get those frames into the warre box to eliminate the nuc box that would be great as well.

There's no point in blaming the guy who sold you anything, you chose warre beekeeping, he's a dadant guy trying to sell bee's. Unless they've read the book they wouldn't understand how opposite the two method's are, so they can't tell you that they really have no clue what to do. The way to get advice they actualy know is correct is to frame it in the sense of how to i take this dadant technology and apply it to a skep. That they grasp cuzz skep's are oldschool, when they hear warre hive thing's get weird and they either ignore you or just convert that to mean hippy dadant hive. 
I spent $400 dollar's on advanced apiary training, and I was ignored everytime i tried to apply anything to do with warre hive's to my education.

Some poor bastard had water dripping and funkying his dadant hive due to condensation, I explained how the quilt attic worked and why condensation frig's things up in standard hives. The teacher who's name was Dr. Bee with a real doctorate in bee disease, looked at me like i was trying to burn down his home, and then told the guy it shouldn't be a problem...... grrrrrr


Well lemme know what you think, we all learn on the back's of others lives, but when our learning matures we can help life thrive and grow beyond the live's that were lost.

 
tel jetson
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might try making some rescue frames to fit in your Warre.  cut the comb out of the Dadant frames and put it in the Warre-sized frames in your new hive.  I've been doing quite a few cutouts into Warre hives lately and rescue frames are working well.  never tried it from a nuc, though.  it would certainly be traumatic for the bees, but only briefly.
 
Alison Thomas
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Location: France
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Saybian Tv, thanks for your lovely long post - it made me laugh too. Yes you've got the 'build' right in your mind. (Note to self to try to work out how to post photos)

tel jetson, any links for that cutting out process?

Yesterday I took off one of the 'shoulders' that are protecting the 'overspill' bit of my Warre to have a wee peek and I could see a little bit of comb on the top bars. I was ecstatic. That was as far as I disturbed the bees for fear of mucking things up again.

Do the bees only build comb if a queen is in residence? Dare I allow myself a little hope that this colony will survive?
 
tel jetson
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Alison Freeth-Thomas wrote:
tel jetson, any links for that cutting out process?


unfortunately, I don't have any good links to recommend.  there are some youtube videos that might help, but I haven't found any that I really like.  my guess is that you're already posting to the UK Warre yahoo group, which is a great resource.

I do have a photo of a frame I made a couple of months ago.  I've changed the design just a little bit since then, but it should give you the basic idea to work from.



supposing there isn't any plastic foundation in the existing frames, you'll just cut the comb free, then cut it to fit the new frames you build.  you'll want to keep the comb in the same orientation that it's in in the nuc combs, and try to minimize the amount of brood you cut through.

remove the string from one side (I like hemp twine for this), place the comb in the frame, then replace the string and wrap it tightly around the last brad.

again, I don't know that this is the best solution, but it's one possibility.
 
            
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Why do you like Warre?  What are some advantages to using this style of box?
 
tel jetson
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Ryan H wrote:
Why do you like Warre?  What are some advantages to using this style of box?


a partial list:


  • [li]smaller size makes moving them around easier[/li]
    [li]low intervention is easier for bees and beekeeper and much cheaper[/li]
    [li]maintains hive scent and temperature[/li]
    [li]easy to build everything with common tools, so I'm not in thrall to Dadant[/li]
    [li]comb is renewed periodically, so toxins don't build up[/li]
    [li]absence of frames reduces small voids where pests can hide[/li]
    [li]quilt effectively regulates excess moisture[/li]
    [li]adding boxes to the bottom (nadiring) instead of the top (supering) allows the bees to build downward[/li]
    [li]very easy to install swarms[/li]
    [li]neighbors don't recognize them as beehives, so they don't get upset[/li]


  • and some of the downsides:

  • [li]somewhat lower honey yield than conventional high intervention methods[/li]
    [li]many old-timers think I'm crazy and/or completely full of shit[/li]


  • I only briefly used Langstroth hives, so I didn't have years invested into that approach like a lot of beekeepers do.  I do also have a horizontal top bar hive, but I don't particularly care for it.  the bees seem to like it, but it takes a lot more fussing with than Warre hives.
     
    Alison Thomas
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    tel jetson wrote:

    I only briefly used Langstroth hives, so I didn't have years invested into that approach like a lot of beekeepers do.  I do also have a horizontal top bar hive, but I don't particularly care for it.  the bees seem to like it, but it takes a lot more fussing with than Warre hives.


    That's interesting tel.  That was going to be my next venture. What sort of 'more fussing'?
     
    tel jetson
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    Alison Freeth-Thomas wrote:
    That's interesting tel.  That was going to be my next venture. What sort of 'more fussing'?


    it's sometimes necessary to rearrange comb to prevent the hive from becoming honey bound.

    in winter, it's important to make sure the cluster of bees starts the season at one or the other end of the hive and not someplace in the middle.  otherwise, they'll get stuck in one end and starve while there's still honey at the other end.

    there's a rather hard limit to the size of the colony because adding a box isn't an option.

    harvesting honey involves removing individual combs, so using an escape board is rather more difficult.

    a lot of folks like them, though.  they just aren't for me.


    how are you're bees doing, Alison?  coöperating yet?
     
    tel jetson
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    Alison Freeth-Thomas wrote:
    That's interesting tel.  That was going to be my next venture. What sort of 'more fussing'?


    also: cross comb is a much bigger pain in the ass in horizontal top bar hives.  in a Warre, cross comb isn't really a problem at all unless the bee inspector stops by.
     
                                
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    Queens are very delicate so even careful brushing could have damaged her, she may not have even made the trip alive. But since you had brood it was ok cuz the the colony requeened for you.

    There is no way to hang the brood frames down in between the top bars?  Must be a way.  If you could liberate a brood frame from the nuc of bees could you carefully cut it out and string it to a top bar? Get them building around it and they'll either make that brood comb a permanent attachment to the bar or it should at least last long enough for them to get more brood comb build next to it.

    My queen has decided to have 4 frames of brood 2 in each of the bottom supers so I could remove one of those supers and start another hive.  One of the two will have the queen and the other will just make queen cells and requeen itself.  Seems like if you leave the one brood frame above and modify the other to fit on a top bar you'd have a similar situation.

    Around here we usually only get I know of have the queen in it's own little house in the middle and all the bees in a screen sided box with a can of food in the middle.  It sounds like people using Warre's should avoid actual nucs with frames.

     
                                
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    @Saybian

    The rule is move your hive 3 feet a day or 3 miles.  You go 4' or 1 mile and they will scent their flight paths and go back to where the hive was and often the colony dies.
     
    Saybian Morgan
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    3 feet or 3 miles ey... glad i only moved it 5 feet. had to leave the smoker where the old hive was overnight so they'd look 5 feet to their left.  It's been a few day's now and they seem even better in their new spot, they were getting swamed by berry bush growth
     
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