Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Let It Be(e) 2 - ref post 30th September - thinking ahead

As some of you may have read I wrote on 30th September how I had messed up and allowed a whole load of wild comb to be built below the brood box (where I had placed a super with only 5 frames).  Upon lifting out brood frames during the following inspection, it became clear that the lower box was a mess.  See my earlier post for photos.  I've decided to leave it to Mother Nature but have just realised that come Spring 2010 all going well, I could carefully use a "cheese wire" technique to slice through the wild comb (below some of the brood frame bottom bars) without opening the hive and then I should be able to remove the upper brood frames for a proper inspection.  Hopefully the Queen, by this stage, will have climbed into the upper box and I'll find her.  I will then transfer the brood frames into a spare hive which I can return to the original location.  As far as I can anticipate, the problem will be if the Queen makes a run for it and stays down below in amongst the wild comb which will now be fairly structureless.

The number of bees will be far less so that should help.  I guess I could wait for three days and try to spot new eggs in the spare hive now with the transfered brood frames.  What if there are no eggs?

If the remaining part of the original hive were tidy I could shake out any bees but the lower part will be mainly wax without honey or stores I would expect.  Are there other techniques to try?  Are there other pitfalls that I could trip into that I haven't foreseen yet?  (I mean in relation to this problem!) 

I welcome your thoughts and aplogise if my writing is confusing.  Anyway, sure isn't it good to keep the old beekeeping part of the brain ticking over during these colder days?   Hope you're all keeping busy :)


Barbara's Spot on the Blog said...

I do understand what you're describing and the cheese-wire technique. I'm sorry I have no experience with this to draw upon to offer advice, other than that the best person I can think to ask are those that work removing wild swarms. They have to cut out combs all the time and do their best to try to secure the queen alive and well. I hope you have a robust beek group in your area that you can ask.
And as for keeping the brain going, I agree that must be what winter was created for--so we can plan all that stuff we're going to do (or not do) in spring!

Lynn said...

Cliff - I think what you're describing makes sense. I'm assuming a cheese wire would be similar to a piano wire in that it would be very sharp and able to easily cut through the comb.

I have sort an opposite situation. The shallow super on top of my brood box is almost completely glued to the brood box with burr comb. I added 4 frames of capped honey this past weekend and could see that the inner frames are a mess. What I hope is that during the winter the bees will clean out most of the honey. As early in the spring as possible, I plan to use a fume board and drive the bees back down into the brood box and go to work. It won't be the end of the world if I lose a queen at that point since it's probably going to be time to requeen anyway.

This colony is also making propolis like crazy just they did last year. (I had some pix on an earlier post.) No telling what the brood box is going to look like. All those frames may be glued in tight. I'm beginning to lots of good reasons to go Top Bar Hives.

Hope I didn't take up too much space. If you ever want to communicate by email, let me know and I'll send mine along.

Cliff W said...

Thank you ladies. All your kind comments are always very gratefully received. I'll be researching fume boards now - I've not heard of one of these.

Ngaio said...

Hey Cliff, you should come down to the antipodes for your honeymoon (pun intended !), NZ is a very beautiful place, some say it is like Ireland in parts, especially the `green regions`. I live in a large green valley but not that far away it can be brown and dry in the summer.
I think like Lynn. maybe just leave them alone over winter and see how they sort it out, I really do believe we interfere to much.

thistledew said...

Hi Cliff
Welcome to the bewildering world that is beekeeping.
I don`t profess to be an expert beekeeper, but I would say that, left to their own devices more, the bees will figure out what to do. I don`t mean neglect them, but try to resist the urge to manipulate too often, particularly at this time of year.
As for making plans, please remember that the best way to amuse the Gods/bees, is to make them aware of your plans.
Good luck, and keep a wary eye on your colony. I would not wish the fate of my bees to fall on any one else, as described in my recent blogs.

Cliff W said...

Thanks Ngaio and Thistledew.

Welcome Thistledew. It's always nice to find another blogging beekeeper :)