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Short answers to Frequently asked questions

Don’t panic...you don’t need to see your queen.  If you can spot fresh eggs in your brood nest, then you know your queen has been in there recently.  If you don’t see eggs or larvae, call us.

Are you feeding your bees?  You need to keep a 1:1 sugar water feed on your bees until your second-deep box is full…do NOT let them run out. Bees need lots of carbohydrates (sugar water) to draw out wax comb.  Your queen needs wax comb to lay eggs.  Not feeding your bees will delay the expansion of your hive.  You will not make your bees lazy.  Newly mated queens can take a while for their ovaries to develop…give her a chance.

Robbing!  If you see toast crumb-like particles on the bottom board and see fighting and darting at the entrance, your hive is being robbed out by a rival hive.  Reduce your entrance and make sure you do not have any food sources within fifty feet of your hives…if so, remove them to fifty or more feet away.

Yes, and yes.  Everyone has mites…so it is something you need to always be on the lookout for and manage.  While our packages and nucs have already been treated for mites, bees are social creatures and may visit other hives where they can pick up mites.  Left untreated, mites can harm the health of your hive.  A consistent management plan is always best.

Every 10 to 14 days minimum.  As a new beekeeper, you are in learning mode, so if you want to inspect your hive more, we encourage that.  You might set your hive back a bit, but we’d rather you learn as much as you can.

We realize that it’s not in everyone’s budget to do two complete setups, but if you can, the more the merrier.  Having more than one hive allows you to:  compare and contrast, equalize hives, help a weaker hive with a strong hive, and worse case, combine hives.  It will also increase your learning curve with more hive inspections.

No, but sometimes it helps move them out of your way, especially if they are a bit grumpy.

When your current box is 80% full. 

Feed 1:1 sugar water until your second-deep box is full.  When you are ready to add your honey super, then you can remove sugar water.  After honey harvest, you may want to start feeding a 2:1 sugar water mix.  Never have sugar water in the hive if temperatures will be below freezing.

Have you had a bear in your area?  Even if you haven’t seen one, if bears frequent your area, they will find your hives and destroy everything.  If there’s even a minimal chance you might have bears, please put up an electric fence…we recommend a minimum of 4 to 5 joules.

If there’s not a natural source nearby, you might want to provide one to keep your bees out of your neighbor’s bird baths, Jacuzzis, pools, etc. If you do, make sure you keep it full.

If you want to increase success with beekeeping, we always recommend taking classes.  Beekeepers are always learning, so every time you have an opportunity to learn, be mentored, go to yard visits, etc.  Please take advantage of it.

We recommend a minimum of face protection at all times, especially your first year.  Go with your comfort level. 

You can get tested at an allergy clinic to see if you have a severe allergy.  Bee stings can vary from local pain and swelling/itching to a rash, trouble breathing, etc.  Anaphylactic reactions are no joke. Please use common sense.

If you purchased a nuc, and you consistently feed, you might get honey your first year.  If you bought a package or a nuc, your goal is to get your bees up to two deep boxes (or the equivalent) before winter.  A package is critical to feed to help them draw comb to expand, but we always advise you to keep feed on consistently until your second deep box is full.

INFORMATION SHEETS

Rocky Mountain Bee Supply,Copyright 2020, All Rights Reserved

One of themost common problems that we deal with are hives without queens.  No queen = a dead hive. There are severalscenarios in which a colony can end up without a queen; however, there are alsoseveral methods for fixing the problem.

What does itmean to be “queenright” or “queenless”?   A hivewith a queen is called “queenright”, a hive without a queen is called“queenless”. Queen bees are essential to a hive because they are the only beecapable of laying fertilized eggs. What determines a fertilized egg tobecome a worker bee or a queen bee? Simply, what they are fed.  Queenbees are only fed royal jelly.

Worker beelarvae are fed royal jelly for only a few days, then they are fed pollen andhoney, also known as “bee bread”.  Thisenables the colony to raise an “emergency queen”, if needed; however, the timethey must convert worker larvae into a queen is limited.  As a worker larvae ages, it cannot be converted,and this is how many colonies fail at raising a replacement queen.  Even when they are successful at raising aqueen, many times the queens are small, have poor brood patterns, and areconsidered inferior.

So, whathappens when a hive has aged larvae and an old or missing queen?  Without a beekeeper’s intervention, they willeventually weaken and die out.  Manytimes, novice and even seasoned beekeepers miss the initial signs of a colonybeing queenless, and if they do notice it, they may misdiagnose a queenlesshive for a “hive in transition”. A hive in transition is in the process of replacing their old queen witha new queen, in which it may take a few weeks for a virgin queen to properlymate and begin laying eggs.  Virginqueens can be difficult to spot as their abdomens take a while to “blow out”and elongate, which distinguishes them from the worker bees.  Unknowingly, a beekeeper may introduce anewly mated queen into a hive in transition, in which this new queen will besummarily rejected and killed by the colony (they already have a queen!  How dare you introduce this impostor!) …leavingthe beekeeper at a loss.  Truly, it is aGame of Combs!

So, whatare the signs of a Queenless Hive?

Signsof a Queenless Hive

1.     Temper,temper!Often,queenless hives can be grumpy… they can be quick to bump your veil and evensting, sometimes boiling out of the hive like the Persian army atThermopylae.  Beekeepers often report ahigh-pitched whine combined with a deep roar when working with queenless hives.Loitering bees on the front board or justhanging around catching sun rays, or lazy on the front board is not a goodsign.  Bees coming and going, bringingback nectar and pollen are signs that all is well.

 

2.    No Sign of Eggs & Brood: Because the queen is the only bee in thehive who can lay fertilized worker bee eggs, the first sign of a queenless hiveis a lack of eggs and young larvae.  Thisis why it is so important to do regular hive inspections (every 10 to 14 daysduring season).  A queenless colonycaught early enough can be remedied before too many workers have died off.  It is important to note that this samesymptom doesn’t always mean the hive is queenless.  Sometimes queens stop laying for variousreasons:  she could be too old, she hasbecome infertile for some reason (some varroa mite treatments can cause queensto become sterile), she wasn’t mated thoroughly, she is injured, or she may betaking an intermittent break to control the spread of disease.  In any event, if she doesn’t resume laying,or she is laying drone brood, then she will need to be replaced immediately.

 

3.    A Drop in Population: During the active season, the lifetime of aworker is five to six weeks, so worker bees are always dying off for onereason or another; however, in a queenless colony, they are not replaced.  Healthy, fertile queens are capableof laying eggs almost constantly. During peak season, aquality queen can lay over 3,000 eggs per day, so she isconstantly replacing the dying population and growing the colony.  In a queenless hive, the population willstart to drop rapidly, and by the time the beekeeper takes notice, it may havebeen queenless for a while.

 

4.    Lots of Honey and Pollen: With no brood to care for, nurse beesbecome foragers and the beekeeper will see an increase in the pollen and honeystores within the hive.  This is not tobe confused with “honey bound” hives. Many times, during strong nectar flows, queenright colonies will go intooverdrive storing pollen and honey in the brood nest…crowding their queen outof laying area, thus the term “honey bound”. This can lead to swarming. To resolve a honey bound hive,  a beekeeper can add another medium box on topof the bees to give them more room to store honey and replace three to fourframes from the middle of the brood nest in one of the deep boxes with emptyframes (undrawn blank foundation) to give the queen more room to lay in.Prevention of honey bound hives requires beekeepers to make sure they are doingregular hive inspections and adding boxes when necessary when the bees need toexpand.

 

5.    Queen Cups or Queen Cells: Queen cups can often be seen in healthy,queenright hives.  Colonies often makecups and tear them down so that they are always prepared in case they shouldneed one.  A queenless colony will alwaystry to make a replacement queen…it’s how they’ve survived for millions ofyears.  Knowing the difference between aqueen cup and a queen cell, and where a queen cell is located on the frame, canhelp in determining what’s going on with your hive.  Queen cells on the bottom of a frame aretypically swarm cells…bees will usually swarm during nectar flows when food isabundant and/or they are running out of room for honey storage in their hive…itis how they propagate the species.  Theyare planning to take the queen with a portion of the hive and will leavedaughters behind to take over.  Supersedurequeen cells are usually located in the middle of a frame, and have been drawnbecause the bees are attempting to replace their queen because she may be tooold and her egg laying and pheromone is waning, she may be poorly mated,infertile, sick, injured, or dead. Whatever the reason, they have sought out a viable egg to reproduce herheir.  Sometimes this works out for thecolony, sometimes it doesn’t.  When yousee a queen cell, check it out to see what stage of development it is in.  If it is capped, you have a queen gettingready to emerge. Is it uncapped?  If youhave a pen light, shine it up inside the cell…do you see larvae with royaljelly?  If so, you have a developingqueen in there.  It takes a queen 16 daysto hatch (8 days from the day it was capped). Is the cell empty?  This could mean a few differentscenarios.  A jagged edge on the tipand/or the tip of the cap hanging there like an opened tin can, your queen mayhave already hatched.  In this case, youhave a virgin queen in your colony…she still needs to do a few mating flightsbefore she will start laying…this is known as a “hive in transition”.  Virgin queens can be difficult to spot asthey are small and fast…and she may be out on a mating flight.  An empty cell can also mean that the colonytried to produce a queen but didn’t have a fertilized egg to put in there…thishive will eventually die out unless a new queen is introduced.

 

6.     LayingWorker: Honeybees are alwaystrying to survive, even in the direst of circumstances.  A hive that has been queenless for a whilemay develop what is known as a “laying worker”. In the absence of the pheromone of brood, a worker bee (who is also afemale and possesses ovaries) will take up the position of queen.  Unfortunately, because she can only layunfertilized eggs, all her eggs will only develop into male drones. A sign of alaying worker is multiple eggs in a single cell, eggs hanging off the side of acell etc.  Remember, a laying worker doesnot have the elongated abdomen of a queen and she cannot properly lay an egg inthe bottom of the cell.  Another sign ofa laying worker is a disproportionate population of drones and dronebrood.  Capped drone brood looks puffy orbullet-shaped compared to the flat brood of female workers.  A hive with a laying worker will eventuallyperish, which is why it is so important to do regular hive inspections tocorrect these situations before they become detrimental to the colony.  There are a few methods to correcting alaying worker situation that must be dealt with before introducing a queen.  Give us a call, we can help.

The above signs of a queenless hive are just that,symptoms and are not absolute indicators by themselves.  A hive that is truly queenless will exhibit manyof the signs listed above, and it isn’t a bad idea to have your mentor or aseasoned beekeeper come take a peek to confirm your suspicions.  If you don’t have access to a mentor, thereare a few things you can do to test your hypothesis.

 

Another Reason to Have More Than OneHive

 

All beekeepers at one time oranother will have to deal with a queenless hive…having the resources to correctissues like this are why most beekeepers keep more than one hive.  Having multiple hives allows beekeeperscompare/contrast hive development, share resources, and serve as a backup planwhen things go south.  If you only haveone hive, then you will have to ask a fellow beekeeper for a frame of brood orpurchase a queen, if it is determined that you need to do so.  Here’s how to test if you are queenright:

 

Testing Method 1

 Remove a middle brood frame from your suspectedqueenless hive and shake or brush the bees from that frame back into thehive.  Set that frame aside.  Take a frame of fresh eggs and wet brood fromone of your queenright hives, mark the top of this frame with a big “X”, andplace it into the open space of your “queenless” hive.  Put the frame from the queenless hive intothe queenright hive so you don’t have an empty space in there.  In three to five days, go back into the“queenless” hive and pull the frame you marked with an “X”.  Do you see queen cups or queen cells beingdrawn out on this frame?  If you do, thenthat means that your hive is in fact queenless and they are trying to raiseanother one.  If you don’t see any queencells, then something else is going on.

Testing Method 2

 

Using aqueen cage or a queen clip, capture a viable queen from one of your queenrighthives.  Place this queen on top of theframes of your queenless hive and observe their behavior. 

Thehive is queenless:  the bees come to the queen, fanning theirwings, sticking their butts up in the air. They stick their tongues into the cage, attempting to feed her or groomher. If you run your finger gently over the cage, the bees move away gently andcome back.

Thehive is queenright*:  the bees swarm over her cage trying to stingthrough it or try to bite her foot pads through the cage.  If you run your finger gently over the cage,the bees do not want to move away…they aggressively grab on, intent on killingher. If left alone, they will pile on to the cage and attempt to “cook” her byheating her up. This is known as “balling”.

*meaningthere is a queen in there somewhere in the form of:

·       A virgin queen you haven’t been ableto spot yet.

·       A queen cell that they have alreadyrecognized as their new queen.

·       A laying worker who they recognizeas their queen.

·       A queen who is failing, but stillhas enough pheromone to muster allegiance.

Trying tointroduce a new queen during any of the above situations typically fails.  A hive that believes it is queenright willreject the introduction of a new queen by killing her or failing to feed her,so she starves to death.  Sometimes, evenin a hive that is queenless, the pheromone of the old queen may be so strong asto make them think they are queenright when they are not.  This is usually the case with a laying workerwhose brood gives off pheromone.  Also, withAfricanized bees, where requeening with a gentler queen may not be successfulbecause the old queen’s pheromones are still very strong in the hive.  In this case, it helps to smoke the hivethoroughly to remove the pheromone and give the bees 24 to 48 hours to realizethat they are queenless.  Additionally,it is wise to invest in a requeening frame that will give a new queen someadded protection as well as help spread her pheromone during the introductionperiod. 

 

Queenless toQueenright

Once you have determined that your hive is queenless, andyou have taken steps to prepare them to be queenright again, you basically havethree choices: 

·       Introducing anewly mated queen which you can purchase from a local beekeeper or bee supplyor order online for overnight delivery.

·       Introducing acapped queen cell from another hive or from a queen producer.

·       Giving the beesa frame of fresh eggs, wet brood, and nurse bees and letting them raise theirown queen.  If you don’t have anotherhive to pull resources from, you may try asking another beekeeper, a club, or abee supply if they can provide you with one.

The best method will depend on how long your colony has beenqueenless and how many worker bees and capped brood you have left.  If you have no eggs, but small larvae, cappedbrood, and plenty of worker bees…your bees could still raise their ownqueen…you probably still have nurse bees so you could give them a frame ofeggs/wet brood from another colony and they can raise their own queen.  You could also introduce a queen cell and lether hatch at this point.  You could alsointroduce an adult mated queen…she will require a 2 to 3-day introductionperiod.

If you have no eggs, no larvae, but still some capped brood,and worker bees, you could introduce a frame of eggs/wet brood from anothercolony, a queen cell, or an adult mated queen.

If you have no eggs, no larvae, minimal to no capped brood,and worker bees, your best bet would probably bee queen cell, or even better,an adult mated queen.

If you have no eggs, no larvae, no capped brood, and just abunch of worker bees, you would probably need to go with an adult mated queenand hope that your worker bees live long enough (21 days from egg to hatch fora worker bee) for the new crop of bees to hatch and keep the hive going.

The quickest way to resolve a queenless hive is to purchasean already mated queen and introduce her into the hive.  After her introduction period and release(methods vary) she can begin laying. Remember, a period of broodlessness will show up with a decline inpopulation of bees; however, once your new queen starts laying, you will seethe population surge again. When purchasing a queen, go to a reputablesource.  You can purchase queens anywherefrom $22 to $50+ depending on the breed, and the availability.  You do not have to purchase the same breed ofqueen as the breed of your current colony. An Italian queen does not care if she’s in a hive with Carniolans.  Her subsequent offspring will be Italian…so,as the old population dies off, the new hatchlings will be the same breed asthe mated queen you purchased.  Somequeen suppliers will mark your queen for you for an additional fee.  You will also pay an overnight LIVE ANIMALshipping fee, which can be a little steep. Call your local bee supply or bee club and see what the availability isand if they have any on hand.

Let Them RaiseTheir Own Queen (Time Isn’t of the Essence)

So, if you have the time and resources and/or mated queensare not available for purchase, you might want to let your bees raise their ownqueen by introducing a frame of eggs/wet brood from another hive.  It takes 16 days for the queen to hatch, andanother week or so for her to get mated. It may take an additional week or two for her ovaries to blow out so shecan begin laying.  You’re looking atabout 3 to 4 weeks of no hatching brood and your population can take a big nosediveduring that time. If this is during the peak of season and there will be plentyof drones available for her to mate with, this is a great option; however, ifit is late in the season and she may not get mated very well or at all, then doyourself a favor and buy a mated queen and have her shipped to you.

 

Introducing aNew Queen

Before installing a new queen into the colony, make surethat you have prepared your hive.  If youhad very little bees left, consider placing one or two frames of capped brood withnurse bees or shake some nurse bees from a stronger hive into the queenlesshive to help boost the population until the queen’s new brood can hatch.  If you had a laying worker, you would need tomake sure that she is removed a few days before the new queen isintroduced.  Go through your frames…makesure that you do not have a queen, or eggs. If you see any queen cells/supersedure cells, cut them out and removethem. Consider purchasing a requeening frame to help spread the queen’spheromone during the introduction period.

When you order your queen, she will typically come Next DayAir in a small box with several attendants. The attendants may be loose around her cage or they may be inside thecage with her, or both.  Ask the supplierhow they will come.  Queen cages canvary…typically they are small wooden cages with one side screened, and a holewith a cork plug or a candy plug.  Somecages may be small plastic ones with a candy plug.  You never want to throw a queen right intothe hive…she must be introduced over a period of three to five days.  Typically, you would want to hang her cage onone of the middle brood frames…usually by pressing the cage into the wax aninch or two below the top bar.  Make sureyou face the  screen part of the cagetowards the front or back of the hive so the bees can access her and feedher…if the screen part faces the comb, they cannot access her and she willstarve to death.  If this worries you,purchase a queen cage holder that will hold the cage safely and at the properdepth for introduction.  In about threedays, check your queen…observe the behavior described above inTestingMethods 1 and 2.  This will tell youif the queen has been accepted, then you can release her…if not, then give hera few more days.  If there is a candyplug in your queen cage, it will take the bees about three days to eat throughthe candy plug…typically enough time for acceptance…and the queen will releasenaturally.  You would want to check tosee if she released…then check to see if you can find her on the frames and seeif she has started laying.  She may havealready started laying…or it can take up to a week for her to start.  Give her a chance.  If using a requeening frame, you will have totransfer the queen into the frame, then hang the frame in the place of one ofthe middle brood frames until she can be released in a few days.  Remember to replace the requeening frame withthe regular frame after acceptance.

Be on Your “A”Game!

A good rule of thumb is to inspect your hives every 10 to 14days.  Always make sure that when you areinspecting your hives, that you check for fresh eggs and larvae.  If you can catch a queenless hive early, youcan keep them alive and thriving.  Somebeekeepers keep notes on their hive by keeping a small notebook in their toolbox,others simply write on the inside lid of the top cover, there are even apps youcan download on your smart phone. Whatever method you choose, keeping notes on your hive can help youtrack their development.  If you do findout that your hive is queenless, don’t wait to act to correct thesituation.  A queenless hive iseventually a dead hive. 

Please don’t hesitate to call us if you need guidance.  We do have master beekeepers on call if youare within a reasonable driving distance from downtown Colorado Springs.  Fees and mileage rates vary.  Contact us via e-mail: RMBS@rockymountainbeesupply.com or call us at the store:  719-375-5094.

Copyright2021, Rocky Mountain Bee Supply LLC, All Rights Reserved.

Condensation in the hive can be a big problem over the winter.  As the bees breathe and produce heat, they create moisture inside the hive. When moisture builds up too much, it can collect on the inner cover and rain back down on your bees.  When the temperatures dip below freezing, the wet bees will freeze to death.  The Rocky Mountain Bee Supply quilt box is designed to mitigate moisture in the hive by: giving moisture a place to go, absorbing the moisture, increasing ventilation in your hive, while at the same time providing insulation for the top.

Fall:  Before freezing temperatures begin, place the quilt box as the upper-most box on your hive, either over the top deep, a top honey-super (if you left one for your bees), or a candy board.  Cut a rectangular piece of burlap about 2 to 3 inches larger than the box and place it inside the box over the screened bottom. Make sure the burlap comes up the sides of the box, but is well belowthe metal vents. 

Fill the box with dry wood shavings (horse stall bedding is perfect) up to the edge of the burlap, but well below the metal vents.  Cover with your inner cover, then top with your telescoping top cover.

Early Spring:  If you get a calm day above 55 degrees, go in and check your shavings…if they are soaking wet, remove them and replace with dry.

Spring:  When the temperatures are well above freezing, remove the box and store for next winter.  If the burlap liner is too wet or propolized, you can cut it up for smoker fuel and cut a fresh one for next winter.  Dump out the wet shavings.  You may also leave the box on during Spring, Summer, and Fall if you remove just the burlap and the shavings…the box will act as further ventilation in the warmer months. 

Care of Your Quilt Box: Like any other piece of woodenware, your quilt box must either be painted or given several coats of tung oil to preserve the wood and keep it from rotting and warping.  If using paint, any outdoor latex paint will work. Do at least two coats for optimal protection.

Winterizing Tips

·       Condensation/Moisture: Quilt boxes help keep moisture out of your hives and are a particularly important tool to keep your bees alive over the winter.  Bees can survive very cold temperatures if they are dry; however, bees that are wet will not survive freezing temperatures.

·       Remember: Never feed liquid feed inside the hive during freezing temperatures.  1.  The bees will not eat it.  2. Liquid feed exacerbates moisture in the hive.

·       Always Remove Any Queen Excluders Over the Winter:   You don’t want your queen getting trapped beneath a queen excluder when the bees have to move up into the honey stores over the winter…she will die if she gets left behind.

·       High Winds:  Keep your hives ratchet strapped together to keep high winds from toppling them or flipping your cover off and exposing your bees. 

·       Snow: after a snowstorm, go out and clear snow from the hole in the entrance reducer to keep fresh air circulating into the hive.

·       Insulation:  If your hives are located above 7000 ft or you live in a high wind area with little wind break, consider wrapping your hive with blankets or foam board or using a winter hive wrap like a Bee Cozy.  Some people will stack straw bales around the sides and back of the hive (don’t block the front) to create a wind break from cold driving winds.

·       Reduce the Entrance:  Don’t forget to reduce your entrance down to the smallest hole to 1. Help the bees thermoregulate the temperature inside the hive and 2. To keep mice and other small creatures from using your hive as a winter den.

·       Bottom Boards:  Consider switching to a solid bottom board or block off a screened bottom board to help your bees thermoregulate the temperature of the hive during the winter.

·       Mice a Problem?  If mice are a problem, consider using a metal entrance reducer to keep them out of your hive over the winter.

·       Extra Food:  Most bees in Colorado run out of honey stores sometime around January and February and can quickly starve to death; nothing really starts blooming until mid to late April. If your bees did not have two deeps (90 to 100 lbs.) of honey going into the winter, they should have a candy board for extra food.  It’s also a good idea to make extra sugar cake, winter patties, or fondant to pop in their candy board when you get a warm day in late winter/early spring for a peek to see how full their food is.

·       Varroa Mite Treatment:  Always do a thorough mite treatment after you pull honey supers in the fall and before you winterize your hive.  Mites do their most damage and kill more hives during the winter, so it is vital to make sure you treat in the fall and plan to treat again in early spring when the bees do not have a lot of capped brood.

·       Planning: Think about splitting a robust, healthy hive in the spring before they have a chance to swarm.  Prepare your equipment for your split and gather the necessary items you will need.

·       Education:  Plan on attending intermediate beekeeping classes that will help you grow as a beekeeper. Early spring is a great time to take classes on splitting, varroa mite treatment, queen rearing, honey harvest etc.

Thank you for purchasing a package from Rocky Mountain Bee Supply.  A package of bees typically consists of a wooden or plastic box, three or so pounds of worker bees, a caged mated queen, and a can of syrup for the trip.  Your package bees are coming from Northern California in a climate-controlled truck.  Packages are great for installation into any type of hive, especially those with already drawn out wax comb on frames or bars.  If they are going into a brand-new hive with no existing comb…FEED FEED FEED!

To transport your package home:

1.     Check your queen before your load your bees. If she’s not moving around or is dead in her cage…you must notify us immediately before you leave the property and we’ll replace the package with another.  Once you leave the property, we will not replace the package or the queen…so please check her.    If you do get home and have a dead queen, or you go to release her and she is dead, you can call us and we will have replacement queens for sale. 

2.      Package bees are usually very well contained in their box; if you’re worried, you may place it in a mesh(they need to breathe) laundry bag.  Keep them at room temperature…if you’re comfortable, they are too.  Don’t put them in the trunk.  Make sure they won’t slide around in your vehicle on the way home.

3.      Please go directly home to install your package. If the weather is totally awful, you can place them in the house or garage and take a can opener and open the top of the syrup can and put more 2:1sugar water syrup in until the weather breaks. Remember, by the time they get here, they’re pretty much out of food.

4.      Set up your hive:  one deep box with all of its frames, bottom board, entrance reducer, inner cover, top cover, hive stand, feeder, etc.

5.      Have your 1:1 sugar water prepared and ready to put into your feeder.  Pour some of your sugar water into a spray bottle as well (if it’s cold out, then don’t spray the bees directly…just a little spritz on the frames.)

6.      Have your pollen patty standing by.

7.     Wear your full protective gear.

8.      Lightly spritz the inside of the deep box, the bottom board, and the five blank frames with your 1:1 sugar water.  If your bees are really cranky and its warm enough outside, spritz them with some of the sugar water.

9.      With your hands firmly holding the package box, thump it down firmly on a level surface to shift the cluster of bees to the bottom of the box.

10.   With your hive tool or a flat head screw driver, pry out the feeding can and set it aside.  Slide out your queen’s cage and cover the hole with the bottom of the can or a piece of board or cardboard.  Inspect your queen to make sure she’s moving around…place her in your pocket where she won’t get chilled.

11.   Remove about 5 to 7 frames to create a space in the middle of the box and set them aside. 

12.   Remove the can or piece of board, turn over the package box and shake the bees into the empty space between the frames.  Shake as many out as you can, but don’t worry if you don’t get every last bee. 

13.   Very gently, replace your 5 to 7frames on top of the bees…letting the frames settle gently on the bees as they crawl up onto the frames…DON’T FORCE THIS!!! If you sprayed some sugar water on the frames, they will be very happy and busy to clean that up! This may take a few minutes.  Some bees may decide to fly around…this is perfectly okay.

14.   Hang your queen in between two of the middle frames or bars sort of off center so she won’t get dripped on from an internal feeder, making sure that the screen side of her cage is facing the front or back of the hive so that the workers may access her to feed her.  Secure her cage with metal tab on the foundation near the top of the frame… if it’s cold use a piece of string and extend her down further so they can keep her warm. 

15.   Place your pollen patty either:  directly on top of the frames/bars to one side or on the top of the inner cover (don’t cover up that middle hole).

16.   Replace the remaining hive components(if you’re using an internal feeder…set this up at this time) to include your inner cover and top cover.

17.   Make sure that your entrance is reduced down to the smallest hole to prevent robbing until the hive gets stronger.

18.   Set the package box in front of the hive…any stragglers will smell their queen and sisters and find their way into their new home.

19.   You may see your bees come out of the entrance and do a funny loopty doo…this is their orientation flights to locate their hive when they begin to go foraging.

20.   In 48 to 72 hours, you will need to release your queen.  Don’t forget to do this!!!  Wear your protective gear, and remove your covers.  Find your queen’s cage.  Removing the cage, check your queen is doing okay and moving around.  Check for acceptance behavior:  workers trying to feed her with their tongues.  (If they look like they’re trying to sting her with their butts or bite at her feet…then she hasn’t been accepted yet…give her another day.)

21.   Watch the video: https://youtu.be/yfmy6qawwDU

22.   Remove about three middle frames to create space.  Holding the cage down as far as you can into the space you just made, take a screw, nail, or small pocket knife, and remove the small cork on the bottom of the cage…being careful not to hurt her.  She’s going to shootout like a rocket. 

23.   Very carefully and gently, replace the frames and close the hive back up.

24.  Do your first hive inspection about 7 to 10 days after installation.  You are looking for wax comb being drawn out on blank frames or, if you have drawn out wax comb from an old hive…day old eggs and wet brood:  you may not spot your queen, but if you see eggs and larvae…then you know she’s there.

25.  REMEMBER:  if you install a package of bees on blank foundation or foundationless frames…it’s going to take your queen some time before she begins to lay…she has to have drawn out wax cells to start laying…if you want your bees to get a busy start building comb…you must feed them.  If you fail to keep a constant supply of sugar water on them, they are going to have a slow start and may not build up enough stores for winter.  Please feed your packages.  We cannot stress this enough!!!

26.  Please remember:  depending on your bees, the weather, how much you feed, the presence or absence of a nectar flow will determine how fast your bees draw out the comb on your frames. It could take 6 to 8 weeks for them to fill out the bottom deep box…more time if you fail to feed them.

27.   FEED.  FEED.  FEED. DO NOT STOP THIS WHOLE SEASON.  You will feed a 1:1sugar water mix (Don’t let them run out) until they’ve reached 2 deeps or the equivalent of 80 to 100 pounds of honey. At this point, if there’s time before fall prep, you can add a honey super for your honey.

28.  If you haven’t taken a basic beekeeping class, you need to, or get a seasoned mentor. 

29.   These packages have been pretreated for varroa mites, inspected multiple times before you get them, and are healthy with a newly mated queen.  Because they are live insects, we cannot guarantee their health and viability after they leave the store and are out of our control. Please feed your bees and don’t stop.  We can’t stress this enough.

30.  There are no refunds on package purchases. Once you leave the property, and the bees are out of our control, they are yours.  If you are having issues, have a dead queen, or need help, please contact us as soon as possible. 

31.  Please don’t throw your package box in the trash.  If you’re not going to use it, please return it to the store so we can recycle it.

Rocky Mountain Bee Supply   RMBS@rockymountainbeesupply.com

Copyright2021, Rocky Mountain Bee Supply LLC, All Rights Reserved.

Copyright2021, Rocky Mountain Bee Supply LLC, All Rights Reserved.

Splitting a Hive (Website Narrative)

Honey bee colonies fluctuate in population over the course of a year. Managing colony strength is an important aspect of beehive managementThere will come a time in every beekeeper’s experience when you will need to learn how to split a beehive.

Splitting a hive is relatively easy to do but you have some important things to consider first. This is an activity most often approached by a 2nd year beekeeper and beyond.

It is a simple process of taking 1 honey bee colony with a large population and dividing it into 2 complete smaller bee families.

When done properly, both “halves” of the colony will grow into productive beehives.

The process of hive splitting is not without risks. Some beekeepers split hives and end up with 2 dead hives.

Taking the time to identify why you want to do this and making a good plan increases your chance of success.

When splitting a hive, its is important to remember that we are not only splitting the bees themselves. We are splitting the resources of the bee colony.

There are several reasons that a beekeeper might want to split beehives. 

·       increase beehive numbers

·       save money

·       reduce swarming

·       requeening hives

·       One of the most common reasons is to take advantage of the bee colony’s Spring build-up and grow more hives.

·       Beekeepers often want to increase the number of hives in their bee yards or apiaries.

·       In this way they can replace any winter losses. Effective hive splitting is a way to increase hive numbers without having to buyhoney bees.

·       Hive Splitting to Avoid Swarms

·       Another reason to consider making a split is honey bee swarm prevention.

·       If the colony splits itself via a swarm and you catch it – great! But what if you don’t? You have lost bees.

·       A natural part of bee life, honey bee swarming is a good thing as far as colony reproduction.

·       However, we beekeepers don’t like the idea of half a bee colony’s population flying away to create anew home. 

·       SplittingBee Hives in Spring

·       Late Spring is one of the most common times for creating hive splits. It is a natural time of increase for honey bee colonies.

·       For the beekeeper with a strong, growing honey bee colony, splitting a hive to prevent swarming makes sense You are splitting a hive before they split themselves.

·       While Spring is a good time to make splits, you may also find yourself needing to split large Summer colonies. You can use splits to managing swarming at any time during the warm months.

·       However, you must be sure that the smaller colonies have enough time to build and prepare for Winter.

·       Requeening Split Hives

·       Some beekeepers use the strategy of splitting hives as an opportunity to produce new queens. A honey bee colony has the remarkable ability to make a new queen bee.

·       When we make a true split, the older queen goes into one box. The other one half-sized colony will have to make a new queen.

·       Unless the beekeeper provides a new queen for the colony, they must have the resources needed to produce a queen.

·       Short term, no fresh eggs are being produced. Colony population will slowly drop until new bees emerge.

·       One benefit is mitecontrol. The temporary break in the brood cycle, provides a break in varroa mite reproduction.

·       Some varroa mite treatments are more effective during a time of little or no brood.

·       Best Time to Split a Beehive?

·       Spring is the optimum time for making a hive split. It is a time of rapid grow for the honey bee colony.

·       The time of the “honey flow” is a natural growth time and the bees are easier to encourage to grow.

·       They are getting ready, raising young, in order to take advantage of the nectar.

·       After the colony has built up a large population with almost no room for more bees in the box, you should have a plan. 

·       If you do not relieve congestion in the brood nest, the bees will. If you see queen cells (swarm cells) during a mid-Spring hive inspection, you must act.

Rocky Mountain Bee Supply Sugar Cake Recipe for Winter Candy Boards

Double this recipe to fill both sides of the board

Ingredients/Supplies:

10 c. sugar (about 5#)

1 c. water

2 Tbsp. Feed Stimulant, Vitamin Bee* (optional)

½ c. Super Bee pollen substitute (optional)

1 Rocky Mountain Bee Supply Candy Board

A great big mixing bowl or tub

Directions:

Place wax paper or a garbage bag underneath your candy board in whatever place you can let it sit to dry for three days.  You won’t want to move it after adding the sugar cake.  Add feed stimulant to warm water.  Slowly add water to sugar.  Add pollen powder and mix well.  Pack down into one side of the candy board with a spatula.  You want a little bit of the sugar cake to protrude from the bottom screen.  Repeat and pack into other side of the candy board.  Let dry about 3 days…prop up bottom so bottom dries also.

*If using Vitamin Bee +, then only use 1 Tbsp. per batch.

Watch the video on our YouTube channel:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_Z30Qsi8eY

Safe for Honeybees Weed Killer

Vinegar Salt & Dawn Spray

This is a natural weed killer with salt, vinegar and liquid dish soap (e.g. Dawn). Combine the following ingredients in a spray bottle:

·       1-gallon white vinegar

·       1 cup salt

·       1 Tablespoon liquid dish soap (Regular Dawn)

Spray weeds with this vinegar weed killer during the sunniest time of day for optimum results.

 

Dandelions are thebees first food of the season, so if it’s possible, please leave them alone; however, if you must kill dandelions, this is a good one to use. Pour some of the mixture into a spray bottle that has a “stream” setting that will give you a direct shot (not mist). Spray the mixture onto the dandelion heads. The spray will kill the dandelions without killing the grass, as long as you don’t get the mixture onto the lawn.

On that note, like other toxic weed killers this recipe will not only destroy your weeds, the acetic acid in the vinegar might also harm other plants and grass that come into contact with the spray. So, no matter the type of weed, use with caution and squirt directly to the weed itself versus applying to the area around it more liberally.

 

Apple Cider Vinegar Epsom Salt Weed Killer

Another similar recipe uses apple cider instead of white vinegar and no dish soap.

·       2 cups of apple cider vinegar

·       1/2 cup of Epsom salt

Fill a spray bottle with the apple cider vinegar. Place a funnel into the mouth of the bottle and add salt. Shake the bottle well to mix the ingredients. Then, spray the weed and they should crumble away within a day.

When Bees Are Most Likely To Sting: Honeybee Colonies and Their Moods

By Wib Magli

Bees can sting, we all know that. And, let’s be honest, everybody knows that females of any species can be a bit moody. Apply this dictum to a colony of honeybees, which are nearly all female, and the occasional bee sting is inevitable. While the beekeeper can count on the occasional sting as an occupational hazard, honeybee colonies are more defensive at some times than at others. One day you peek into the colony and the bees happily go about their business unperturbed by your presence, other times you barely crack the top before being met with a barrage of buzzing, stinging bombers bent on driving you away, far away.

Luckily for the beekeeper, the moods of a honey bee colony are not entirely unpredictable. There are several factors that influence the defensiveness of a bee colony.

Honey Bees Are Only Interested in Defending the Colony

The first thing to keep in mind is that honeybees are only interested in defending the colony. Bees that are encountered foraging for nectar, far from the hive, have no interest in stinging you. They have nothing to defend. These bees sting only if they are threatened in such away that they can’t retreat, like getting stepped-on, or caught in your hair. The same holds true for a swarm. While several thousand bees clustered on a branch are an impressive sight, and daunting to many people, swarms are quite gentle. Again, having left the hive and not yet found a new home, they have nothing to defend.

Forager Bees and Defensive Behavior

In every colony there are guard bees, bees whose specific task it is to guard the colony. Guard bees might initiate defensive behavior, but in my experience it is the presence or absence of foragers that is the best predictor of colony mood.

The oldest worker bees are the most defensive and the oldest workers in the colony are the foragers, the bees that go out and collect nectar and pollen. This makes a warm, sunny day during a nectar flow(when lots of flowers are blooming) the best time to work your bees, because most of the foragers are out of the hive, foraging.

Conversely, bee colonies are most defensive on days when the foragers are stuck in the hive. Bees can’t fly in rainy weather, so gray days make for a black mood. The same principle holds true for early morning before most of the foragers have left the hive, and late afternoon when most are back.

Periods of dearth, when there are no flowers blooming and no nectar to gather, also lead to more defensive colonies. The foragers, having no nectar to gather, hang around the hive making for an ill-tempered colony.

Queenless Colonies and Defensive Behavior

One of the reasons that forager bees are more defensive than other bees in the colony may be that they are less exposed to queen mandibular pheromone (QMP). QMP is a substance secreted by the queen and distributed through the colony. Exposure to QMP makes honey bees less defensive. Foragers have less exposure to QMP because they spend much of their time outside the hive.

The absence of QMP helps explain why queenless colonies tend to be more defensive than those that are queenright (have a queen). One of the signs of queenlessness is that a colony is agitated and defensive when it should be at its most docile such as in the middle of a warm, sunny day during a nectar flow.

Night, Predation, and Rough Handling

All bee colonies will exhibit increased defensiveness at night, perhaps because many of their natural predators are nocturnal. Also, a colony that has to frequently defend itself from a predator, such as a skunk, will be unusually defensive. It seems that the more frequently a colony has to defend itself the more quickly it will do so.

Rough handling by the beekeeper can also make a colony defensive. Squishing bees releases alarm pheromones that upset the entire colony and lead to more stings.

Summary

So, to reiterate, honey bee colonies tend to be most defensive:

1. When most of the foragers are in the hive:

A) During rainy weather

B) Early in the morning and late in the afternoon

C) During a nectar dearth

2. When queenless

3. At night

4. When frequently having to defend against predators, like skunks

5. When handled roughly by the beekeeper

Working bees on warm, sunny days during a nectar flow helps insure that the colony will be at its most docile. Under these conditions, it’s not uncommon to work bees without receiving any stings at all. However, sometimes bee work must be done under less than ideal conditions. When this is the case, try not to compound the problem. For example, during a dearth, when the bees are already testy, try to work them in the middle of the day, not just before sun down. If your bees are being bothered by predators, put a stop to it and when you work your bees, always be gentle.

Keep the above factors in mind and you can better anticipate the mood of your bee colony and be ready if they are more defensive than usual. 

https://hubpages.com/animals/When-Bees-Are-Most-Likely-To-Sting-Honeybee-Colonies-and-Their-Moods