Nucs Bursting at The Seams

We started up two hives from nucs around July 10th, and they’re doing so well, I’m concerned the queens may become honey bound. Here’s a frame from one of the nucs we inspected yesterday:

Most of the top box had frames just like this, 90% honey with a small patch of brood in the middle. Both of the young hives are filling their top boxes fast. Neither of the hives we started from nucs last year did this well. So what did we do differently this year?

I don’t have time to get into it now, so I’ll tell you about it in a future post. To be continued… in Nucs: How We Raised ‘Em Well.

Follower Board Mistake

We made a mistake with the follower boards we installed in one of our nucs a few weeks ago. The follower boards (a.k.a. dummy boards) were installed on the bottom box. Then we expanded the hive and added a second box. But the second box didn’t have follower boards. Follower boards shift the alignment of the frames so that they’re half a frame off the normal alignment. That means the frames in the second box were misaligned with the frames in the bottom box — which means there was an empty space above every top bar in the bottom box. The bees didn’t just build burr comb in that space. They built comb three or four inches high. It was a mess.

It doesn’t show up well in the photograph, but that burr comb is about four inches high. We cleaned it up and it wasn’t a disaster. And now we know: If you’re going to use follower boards, use them in both boxes right from the start.

Other than that, we haven’t had any problems with the follower boards. Both boxes in the hive have follower boards now, and the hive is booming.

Adding a Second Honey Super

THE FOLLOWING HAS BEEN UPDATED SINCE ORIGINALLY POSTED.

Well, it looks like we’re going to get some honey this year after all, at least from one of our hives. I was led to believe that foundationless hives in the cold wet climate of St. John’s, Newfoundland — with its short, sometimes non-existent summers — wouldn’t produce extra honey for humans during the first year because much of the bees’ resources are funnelled into raising drones and then back-filling the drone comb before they have a chance to make extra honey in a honey super. So far that’s turned out to be true. We migrated all the foundationless frames into a single hive, Hive #2, and that hive hasn’t done much with its honey super. However, Hive #1, the hive that we transferred all the conventional frames in to, has filled its first honey super. Check out the video and I’ll tell you more about it later:


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How to Move a Hive

THE FOLLOWING HAS BEEN UPDATED SINCE ORIGINALLY POSTED.

What follows is one way to move a Langstroth honey bee hive a short distance. Okay then… Here’s a rough map of our backyard:

The numbered squares represent hives. We moved Hive #1 to location 1a, gave the bees time to adjust to the new spot, then moved the hive to 1b, waited a few days again and then moved the hive to its final location at 1c. Each move was approximately 1 metre or 3 feet and we waited at least three days between moves. Essentially, that’s all you need to know for moving a hive a short distance. (There’s also a video at the bottom of this post.)
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Screened Inner Covers = Good View of The Hive

I’m in love with all the ventilation aids I’ve added to our hives lately. Judging only from preliminary observations, I’d say the screened bottom board is #1 on my Gotta Have ‘Em list. The ventilator rim ain’t too shabby either. But the one I love the most, purely for the This Is So Cool factor, is the screened inner cover. I recommend it to all first year beekeepers because it provides a handy view of the hive that doesn’t require tearing the hive apart or wearing any protective clothing. Check it out:

This is just a prototype. Screen with a wider mesh might be more ideal, but still… I’ve watched the bees quickly fill this honey super since I added the screened inner cover not too long ago, and it’s great to be able to just pull the top off the hive and look down through the screen and observe what’s going on without disturbing the bees. This is exactly the kind of thing most first time beekeepers would love, because you know they’re looking for any excuse to poke around inside the hive to see what’s happening. And it’s good for the bees, so why not?

Note: I don’t see harm in any of these ventilation aids for my hives in St. John’s, Newfoundland, at least during the peak of summer. I’m not sure I’ll stick with them over the winter months, though.

Screened Bottom Board & Solid Bottom Board

I added a home made screened bottom board (SBB) to the hive on the left today. The hive on the right has a normal solid bottom board. I took the photo around 8:00pm (about five minutes ago) after a hot day.

It could be a coincidence, but if I were to judge only from the photo, I’d say the bees on the right live a hot and humid hive and the bees on the left are chillin’. I wish I had the materials to build an SBB for the hive on the right.

See the updated Hive Humidity post for more info on all this ventilation business. I’ve seen in the past week how vital ventilation is to a healthy hive. I wish I’d hopped on that train from day one.