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Author Topic: Big Bear's bee yard rules for honey bees  (Read 1599 times)
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bigbear
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« on: May 03, 2011, 10:43:25 PM »

This is an authoritative guide to working with honey bees in one of my bee yards.

How other people do it in their bee yards is up to them and I will not argue with them about how they work the bees in their bee yards.  But, if we are working my bee yards, this is how it goes down:

1) In a vertical hive; deeps must be used for the brood areas.  Over winter in double deeps.  I now use only 5 frame nuc boxes and work them as Warre hives but there will only bee deeps to allow bees to have as much un-interrupted comb before they have to make a jump to the next comb over winter in search for food.

2) Back to 5 frame nuc boxes.  These are,  I believe, closer to the actual volume of a cavity that bees will naturally seek out as a size they can "work" and defend.  Also, these allow more of the heat that the bees generate to stay immediately centered on the bee cluster instead of dissipating to the empty corners of a bigger box and then rising in those corners, not heating the honey stores directly above the cluster ensuring accessible food  stores for them during colder periods.

3) unless otherwise designated, hives are worked as Warre style and are nadired (adding boxes beneath the stack) as opposed to supering (adding boxes to the top of the stack) allowing bees to follow their natural behavior of drawing comb out and down.

4) Bees are never to be fed inside the hive except in certain, specific situations (such as being in a closed observation hive).   I truly believe that foraging behavior is something that must be encouraged and that un-necessary internal feeding reduces survivor traits thus making the colony overall "weaker'.

5) Having said the above,  bees need to have alternative food sources made available to them as often as they need, especially in times of natural (hot summer) or artificial (hive located in a place of limited foraging sources).  This needs to happen in external pail feeders placed no closer than 75 feet from the bee yard.

6)  Hives absolutely MUST be wrapped and kept warm over winter to accommodate for the thinner walled, man made hives that offer less insulation than most naturally selected trees and even house or garage walls that bees might otherwise choose.  The less bees have to work to stay warm, the more they conserve energy, the less rapidly they consume their winter stores and the easier it is for them to move over the gap between frames in colder temperatures, allowing them to access stores above their starting frames from the beginning of cold weather.

Out of 45 work hives that I have out for pollination last year,  I only lost 3 hives over winter by doing this.  Compared to the 7 out of 7 hives lost in the conservation yard that did not follow these measures (they were also hived very late in the season) as a 'control group" of sorts to counter what was being done with the 'work' hives.

Note that I am NOT a honey producer.  Almost all honey in my bee yards is fed back to bees.  This year,  I will be setting up a few select hives to be supered rather than nadired so as to obtain cut comb honey that I have customers locally in high demand of.  I am of the mindset right now that for this season anyway,  I will not produce any honey other than cut comb honey as I have an established source of high volume local extracted honey for sale.  Why re-invent the wheel?  Instead I'll focus on something no one else in the area is doing.

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elmatto
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« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2011, 03:39:31 PM »

Hi Big Bear,
I think this is great and makes a lot of sense

A question when you say 5 frame NUCs and then over winter in double deeps.  Do you mean that you start them in 5 frame deep NUC and then transfer them to double deeps?  Or you use double deep NUCs from the start.

One other question- do you think this is something a beginner can/should tackle or do you think it would be better to do the traditional Lang approach first? 

thanks!
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bigbear
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« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2011, 03:48:57 PM »

that's the beauty of using lang nucs, you can start out with these hives and use all the traditional resources and help that relates to lang style beekeeping.  I definitely think beginners can be successful with this.

no, to me "double deeps" in my hives is simply two deep 5 frame nuc boxes.  some people are experimenting with 5 frame medium boxes now and  I wanted to be clear that I only use the deeps.
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