Less then success with the transfer

Less then success with the transfer

PostBy: lowfog01 On: Sun Mar 31, 2013 5:03 am

So... they say that for every 20 ideas you have for improving your bee hive and your bee keeping, one will really work as you planned. Not me, I was batting zero yesterday when I tried to finish my switch from the square box hive to my Top Bar Hives. I started off with the new, smaller hive so I wouldn't have to deal with as many bees and I could take my lessons learned and apply them to the larger hive. My plan was to cut the existing comb - brood and honey – from the older, smaller square box hive top bars and attach it to the new Top Bars with hairclips and zip ties. The bees will permanently attach it over time. It’s important that all the top bars are the same so there are no gaps to the outside and the colony can seal the hive.

My first lesson learned was DON'T DO IT! Despite what all the U tube videos say, this isn't something you want to do or even can do and is a sticky, huge waste of time and will destroy the brood nest. The individual brood combs are filled by the bees in bands or circles of particular elements. At the center of the comb are the brood cells, the next is stored pollen and finally is a band of honey. That’s the one the hair clip goes in.

The honey cells are very soft and can’t support the weight of the rest of the comb. The hairclips pull out and the comb drops to the floor of the hive killing scores of bees as it hits. If by some miracle, the hair clip holds, the comb folds in on itself and refuses to hang straight on the Top Bar. That’s not a good thing. It will eventually pull apart and fall leaving you a mess to find on your next inspection. I didn’t have that much brood comb to work with and after my attempts I have even less. For that hive I just went ahead and replaced all the old Top Bars with new ones, some with empty combs I had in storage and some just empty. In essence, I’m starting that hive over from scratch. Bummer!

On top of that I am questioning the strength of the queen that came with the new bees I brought to strengthen that hive. I’m getting mixed signals if she even exists. I saw no eggs that I could attribute to her but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. They could just be hidden under all the bees. There are some signs she is there like the bees are bringing in pollen and not making a lot of noise. A queenless hive sounds like a 747 taking off.

Despite not getting stung, this was a very painful day in the apiary but I have a new plan for the other hive and hopefully it will work. Lisa
lowfog01
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Mark II & Mark I

Re: Less then success with the transfer

PostBy: Freddy On: Sun Mar 31, 2013 6:32 am

Ohhhhh, Lisa, You've worked s hard! I'm sorry there's been such a set back. Hopefully things will go better as you go forward.
Freddy
 
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Re: Less then success with the transfer

PostBy: KLook On: Sun Mar 31, 2013 7:48 am

Sorry to hear it Lisa, I got into some sticky learning experiences also! PM me with details about the pitfalls and what you would do different. I am going to have a hive when I get this house and I considered your new method. I have a bunch of old equipment however and will probably start with them.

Kevin
KLook
 
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Re: Less then success with the transfer

PostBy: VigIIPeaBurner On: Sun Mar 31, 2013 7:54 am

Hairpins might work if the comb was more than several years old. Your comb is not a year old and hasn't had a chance to be toughened and thickened up by the bees as would naturally happen after a few years in an active hive. Incorporating some cotton string, like butcher's string, along with the hairpins is probably a better idea. The cotton string supports the comb giving the bees a chance to make wax and attach it perminently to the top bar. Once the comb is stablized, the workers will chew up the cotton string and drag the fibers out of the hive. Were the zip ties for vertical stability and to be cut out later? If so, maybe a half inch wide piece of corrugated cardboard would have given the fragile heavy brood comb some bottom support so that the zip tie didn't cut through the comb from the downward weight of the comb. The workers would chew that up and drag it out in a few weeks also just like they do with the cotton string. Wrap the cotton string over the top bar, down over the comb and under the bottom cardboard support strip, then up again and over the top bar forming a helix to support the length of the comb. This helps comb hang fairly vertically below the new top bar. These methods have worked for me whenever I transferred bees from a Honeytree or a building wall into a Langstroth hive. No matter what, it's always a messy traumatic job especially for the bees.

Keep trying, it'll work! The bees will do their things in spite of us beekeepers meddling in their methods. :yes: :yes:
Just a few thoughts from a former beekeeper - Happy Easter!
VigIIPeaBurner
 
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Re: Less then success with the transfer

PostBy: lowfog01 On: Sun Mar 31, 2013 4:32 pm

Freddy wrote:Ohhhhh, Lisa, You've worked s hard! I'm sorry there's been such a set back. Hopefully things will go better as you go forward.


It's ok. The hive is still there. It'll just be harder for them then it had to be. I was able to save about a pound and a half of honey that I'll give back to the bees instead of sugar water during the spring build up. That will save me money. I also saved some other comb that has nectar (unprocessed honey) and pollen that I'll give to the bees to clean out. That means they won't have to work as hard or fly as far for a couple of days. The fact that I have some empty comb they can fill up means that I'll still probably get a small harvest in the fall from that hive. :) Don't forget, I only screwed up one on my hives. Hopefully, I've discovered a way to make the transfer without the mess or destruction. If it works I'll be angry at myself because it's so obvious I should have seen it. I'm going to trim the old Top Bars just a tad shorter and wire them to the new Top Bars - sort of piggy back. That new length will let the Tbars hang properly and seal the hive. It also means the comb doesn't have to be cut off the old Top Bar at all so there won't be any falling or torn comb as well as a reduced mess from leaking honey. And since it's a Top Bar hive I'll only be working with a 3 inch opening in the brood nest; that's a limited amount of bees flying around. I've done a prototype at the dining room table but I won't know if it will work in the hive until it stops raining mid-week. I'll let you know how that works out. Keep your fingers crossed. Lisa
lowfog01
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Mark II & Mark I

Re: Less then success with the transfer

PostBy: lowfog01 On: Sun Mar 31, 2013 4:43 pm

Boy I wish I'd talked to you before I attempted this! I did try to cradle the heavier combs with gauze slings but that was just a mess and the comb fell out the sides. I can see where the stiffer cardboard or even lathing would have made a better "frame" bottom. The zip ties where going to be cut out after the girls had fastened the comb to the top bar. I think the cotton string would have solved my issue with the comb falling over, too. The cardboard would have given it a firm bottom and the string would have made a sort of net. Yep, that would have helped a lot. I'm going to cut and paste this post to my Bee Journal so if I'm ever faced with doing this sort of thing or I'm asked about it, I can give a good, well thought out answer. Thanks again, Lisa



VigIIPeaBurner wrote:Hairpins might work if the comb was more than several years old. Your comb is not a year old and hasn't had a chance to be toughened and thickened up by the bees as would naturally happen after a few years in an active hive. Incorporating some cotton string, like butcher's string, along with the hairpins is probably a better idea. The cotton string supports the comb giving the bees a chance to make wax and attach it perminently to the top bar. Once the comb is stablized, the workers will chew up the cotton string and drag the fibers out of the hive. Were the zip ties for vertical stability and to be cut out later? If so, maybe a half inch wide piece of corrugated cardboard would have given the fragile heavy brood comb some bottom support so that the zip tie didn't cut through the comb from the downward weight of the comb. The workers would chew that up and drag it out in a few weeks also just like they do with the cotton string. Wrap the cotton string over the top bar, down over the comb and under the bottom cardboard support strip, then up again and over the top bar forming a helix to support the length of the comb. This helps comb hang fairly vertically below the new top bar. These methods have worked for me whenever I transferred bees from a Honeytree or a building wall into a Langstroth hive. No matter what, it's always a messy traumatic job especially for the bees.

Keep trying, it'll work! The bees will do their things in spite of us beekeepers meddling in their methods. :yes: :yes:
Just a few thoughts from a former beekeeper - Happy Easter!
lowfog01
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Mark II & Mark I

Re: Less then success with the transfer

PostBy: McGiever On: Sun Mar 31, 2013 7:33 pm

I have also did the cotton string wrapping helix trick.

It was a bit easier since the combs were coming out of a bee log and being re-fixed into Langstroth Frames w/ bottom bars to go into a box hive.
I used a spool of sewing thread, but w/o bottom bars, the butcher's twine and temporary bottom support may have an advantage. :)
McGiever
 
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Re: Less then success with the transfer

PostBy: lowfog01 On: Mon Apr 01, 2013 11:38 am

McGiever wrote:I have also did the cotton string wrapping helix trick.

It was a bit easier since the combs were coming out of a bee log and being re-fixed into Langstroth Frames w/ bottom bars to go into a box hive.
I used a spool of sewing thread, but w/o bottom bars, the butcher's twine and temporary bottom support may have an advantage. :)


Gosh, I wish I'd mentioned my plans to you guys before I tried it. After reading VigIIPeaBurner's post I took a piece of brood comb I had left in the hive overnight. I just couldn't bare to throw it away and strung it up with cotton string. I just looped it over the top bar a couple of times and it was good to go. It's right now it's covered with bees and hanging straight. I also took some clean empty Langstroff combs I had and "cut and pasted" that to the empty top bars. I figured the bees wouldn't have to start from scratch. The bees are all over it and festooning 3 and 4 inches deep.

For the other hive I am going to fasten the old Lang top bars to the new Top bars with grocery wire. I'll have to trim the Lang top bars about an inch so that the new ones will hang properly but that is miles ahead of having to deal with another mess like I made on Sat. It worked sitting at the dining room table. :) I'll know if it will work at the hive later this afternoon.

Thanks for all the input, I can use the help. Lisa
lowfog01
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Mark II & Mark I