NZBF: New beekeeper, a few questions

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12
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Kapiti Coast
Experience
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I'm a new beekeeper as of Sunday, located in the Kapiti Coast. I have always held interest in beekeeping but never got around to it. I even had some boxes, frames, bases and a beesuit (cheapo) sitting around for a few years. But finally I decided to bite the bullet and get into it. I met with a registered beekeeper and bought a hive (3/4 frames, 2 boxes with bees, queen and brood) which had been treated a few days earlier. I've set the hive in the garden and will take a look inside it once my smoker and new better quality suit that I've ordered arrives this week. I've registered on afb.org.nz and also bought the Practical beekeeping NZ 5th edition book to go along with this hobby and started to go through Trevs bees videos on youtube.

It's an exciting new hobby and I'm always going down to the hive to watch them do their thing. But what I've observed so far has raised some questions:

First morning (Monday) a couple dead bees, due to cleaning I assume.

This morning I found these bodies out the front:
Are these drones, why are they dead outside the hive and unmature looking?


What is this they're fighting over, some kind of white translucent crumb of some sorts, do they bring other things in other than pollen?


Behaviors:
A bee standing at the front, rearing up on its hind legs and pushing incoming bees that are landing with its front lets, as if it's trying to push them away? (evening)
A few bees with their butts up, fanning their wings. (evening)




Also location. When I got them home I had an area prepared. I was told it was probably a good idea to point the entrance north, but I had wind whipping in that direction (wind mostly comes through in this direction), so I rotated it 180 away from it towards an opening.


Does this look alright? (evening sun pictured)


I've noticed they start first flight in the morning around 9am. Is this too late due to the sun not hitting it directly? They finish their flight around 7:30pm and start to settle in.
Wind vs Sun, what do I go for and if I was to move the hive, is that ok, or should I wait sometime before I do that. Another area of interest is here:
Up against this side of the barn pictured where the southerly's are mostly absorbed by the barn. The barn also receives very early sunlight all the way till the evening.

Other things, the place they are now has some trees that attract wasps 25m away and the paddock location I'm thinking about has magpies that hang around in the trees nearby.

Sorry for the plethora of questions and they may be dumb, but I'm hoping my hive is off to a good start or what action I should take next.
 
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Mummzie

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Welcome to Beekeeping and the forum @JamezNZ .
Bee assured your fascination and string of questions is normal. Expect to spend much time just sitting and watching, & learning.

I'm not going to attempt to answer all your questions at this point- but I would suggest you find out what varroa treatment the bees have received prior to your ownership.
You are correct, the bodies do appear to be immature drones, and there could be several reasons for them being discarded.
1) varroa- one photo shows what I think is deformed wings- a virus associated with varroa damage
2) season is cooling and the bees feel they are no longer required
3) damage from their move. If this was the case you would expect other bodies also.

Effective treatment for Varroa is vital for the bees to get through winter and present you with further challenges.

Others can weigh in on some of the other questions.
Investigate some of the beekeeping courses offered by trade training etc. They usually begin about July- There may be one convenient to you, but meanwhile- stick around and be prepared for a variety of answers.
 

Alastair

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This morning I found these bodies out the front:

Drone pupae. Reasons for this as per Mumzie but this can be pretty normal at this time of year.

How was the hive treated by the guy you bought it from? IE, Bayvarol, oxalic, or what?

What is this they're fighting over, some kind of white translucent crumb of some sorts,

It's the skin of a pupae. Bees not fighting they are probably licking it dry before one of them flies off with it to dump it somewhere.

A bee standing at the front, rearing up on its hind legs and pushing incoming bees that are landing with its front lets, as if it's trying to push them away?

Incoming bees get checked over by other bees to see if they belong.

A few bees with their butts up, fanning their wings.

Front door is so small they have to fan to get enough air into the hive.

but I had wind whipping in that direction (wind mostly comes through in this direction), so I rotated it 180 away from it towards an opening.

Good move avoiding the wind. Wind is the worst thing for a hive and although early morning sun is good, wind is more damaging than wether or not they have the right amount of sun. Your place does look kind of windy, my recommendation would be first get them into a sheltered place, second worry about the sun and if both can't be right, get the wind situation as good as you can.

I've noticed they start first flight in the morning around 9am

Not a worry. The popular belief is you have the sun shine in the front door early to wake them up and get working early. In practise it doesn't make a huge amount of difference to your end of season honey crop. One reason is that the flowers often don't have much nectar super early in the day.

Other things, the place they are now has some trees that attract wasps 25m away and the paddock location I'm thinking about has magpies that hang around in the trees nearby.

Wasps can be an issue for bees especially if they have varroa and the hive is not configured properly. Trees wasps like 25 m away will not have any bearing on the wasps bothering your bees or not. Magpies are a non issue.
 
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maungaturoto
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+1 to everything said above.

i would add that warm dry spots are far better than cold wet spots.
try to keep them in a dry area above all else.

the other thing i notice is the pallet. unless your intending to become a commercial and shift hives by the pallet load, i recommend not having a pallet.
they simply get in the way, it adds extra height, and most people use wooden ones that rot quickly and the hive tips over.
for one or two hives its pointless and tends to make it more awkward to work on the hive.
 
12
13
Kapiti Coast
Experience
Beginner
Awesome thanks for the great replies and nice attitude (was hoping I wouldn't get chewed out lol).

If it's the case of avoiding the wind, then I'm happy where the hive is at the moment.

The treatment used before I received them was oxalic acid strips and suggested to put Apivar in a months time.

Thanks for the suggestion Tristan. If I'm going to ditch the pallet, should I move to a hive doctor base I have? Are there any pros using that vs this wooden one it's on and does the hive doctor help with fallen mites?
 
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Mummzie

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The treatment used before I received them was oxalic acid strips and suggested to put Apivar in a months time.
IMO, with deformed wings apparent, I wouldn't be waiting a month before treating with Apivar or Bayvarol.
Getting it in as soon as possible means it will be due to come out Early May. After that its is getting cool enough you wont want the hive to be opened if possible. Its also enough time to raise brood free of varroa.

There are two other publications I would recommend as essential for your beekeeping education.

The Elimination of American Foulbrood -Mark Goodwin ISBN 0-473-05776-X
Control of Varroa- Mark Goodwin & Michelle Taylor ISBN 978-0-473-12392-5 (there is a later edition)
 
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Josh

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@JamezNZ, Awesome post!

If you have a wasp problem, have a look a a product called Vespex. There’s a small quiz to sit online to be a registered user, and there are many reports on here of resounding success and I have seen its effect first hand in the beach forest around Bealey Spur in Arthur’s Pass.

OA would seem to be a good treatment, but like all treatments it has nuances and tricks. I tried to start how I ended to continue (organic) and that was a dismal failure on my part. Start with rotations of conventional treatments and move to OA as an extra or later once you have other things well under your belt. I thought I could do better… I was wrong, like so many newbee’s before me.

Things to consider for next season (that I’ve learnt)
1. A second apiary site (far enough away to move nucs etc for swarm management/control
2. A second, or more, hive so that you can learn, compare and do things like move frames to test for queen rightness
3. Think of gear (feeders, some nuc gear or divide boards to turn a typical box into a nuc volume etc.) Beware of second hand gear, there maybe a reason they’re selling (eg. Their hives have died of AFB, they just don’t know it yet)
4. Resist gear…. I have so much already that needs to go back on TradeMe for the next sucker 🤪
 
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Ventilated floors make no statistical difference to the number of varroa in a hive. It is a personal preference thing and for every beekeeper that loves them there is another one that hates them. Personally I don't like them and only have a couple which I use for doing varroa experiments as they are very easy to monitor.
I hate hives on pallets because they are very difficult to work and hard on your back because you can't stand right beside the hive, however your pallet looks quite interesting and if you move the hive to the one edge of the pallet I think it would work quite well.
I have never found it makes any difference at all which way a hive is facing although if I only had one I would still probably face it North.
Shelter from wind is a big bonus for hives. Morning sun is overrated and while I prefer hives that are in the sun all day if I cannot have that I would go for afternoon sun every time.
Your chucked out drone brood could have been damaged during shifting but it is most likely that they are just throwing them out because it's the time of year they do that sort of thing. When the honey flow stops then drones get chucked out. Shifting hives tends to encourage this behaviour as well and I have seen hives even in the spring completely surrounded with dead drones and drone brood a couple of days after shifting out of Apple orchards up into the mountains. These hives had plenty of bees and honey but for whatever reason they could sense hard times coming.
 

Grant

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Welcome @JamezNZ
For me the most valuable newbie piece of advice has been given by @Josh
Start conventionally, learn about your bees, your hive, the seasons and your location for at least year, then diversify into the direction you want to go in. Whether that's a change of hive type or an organic practice or something else.

Don't go too big too quickly, but there is a lot of merit in having a hive to compare. I did 3 so that one acted as a "control" hive - that could also help you when you do say decide to go organic. You could have one control that you just use by the book, one on one treatment/base and one on another treatment/base so you can compare what works for you.
The same applies for fancy equipment and extras like the hive doctor base. Everything has its place in time.

log everything you do so you can see what worked and what didn't over time. This also helps us understand your hive condition when you need to ask questions later.

 
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maungaturoto
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Thanks for the suggestion Tristan. If I'm going to ditch the pallet, should I move to a hive doctor base I have? Are there any pros using that vs this wooden one it's on and does the hive doctor help with fallen mites?
the wooden base is fine.
hive doctor bases are made to be fastened to a pallet, or at least runners. so i don't see the point of using them.
tho i'm not a fan of small hive entrances, but i'm not in coldy cold land.
face the hive slightly downhill so water can run out the front.

The treatment used before I received them was oxalic acid strips and suggested to put Apivar in a months time.
thats a bit poor. as already suggested i would put apivar in now or preferably yesterday.

Things to consider for next season (that I’ve learnt)
1. A second apiary site (far enough away to move nucs etc for swarm management/control
i do not recommend this for beginners. if they stuff up or spread afb, now its spread over wider aera. it makes things much more complicated and prone to mistakes.
keep the problems confined to one location.

2. A second, or more, hive so that you can learn, compare and do things like move frames to test for queen rightness
3. Think of gear (feeders, some nuc gear or divide boards to turn a typical box into a nuc volume etc.) Beware of second hand gear, there maybe a reason they’re selling (eg. Their hives have died of AFB, they just don’t know it yet)
+1
a 2nd hive is good for repairs etc and doesn't add much cost.

do not buy 2nd hand gear.
we had someone years ago who lost all their hives to afb, then 4 years later all his boxes where sold off on TM to unsuspecting buyers. it looks like he extracted all the honey off the afb hives, burnt the brood boxes/bases/lids and sold off the rest. i have a couple of threads on here somewhere on it.
 

Mummzie

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if you move the hive to the one edge of the pallet I think it would work quite well.
Agree, although Tristans points are valid too.
One one side of the pallet means you work the hive from that side, from the ground. If you need to go to the other side, you can step up onto the pallet and you have more foot space.
It also means there is now room for that second hive you didn't realise was coming :ROFLMAO: :ROFLMAO: :ROFLMAO: :ROFLMAO:
The advantage of the pallet, IMO is it takes longer for the grass to grow so long it makes the entrance hard to locate, but more importantly, its a little further off the ground for warmth and reduced moisture.

FWIW, I have mainly solid wood floors and reduce the entrances in winter. Moisture is the winter enemy, and that is vastly reduced by a little insulation on the top.
 
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12
13
Kapiti Coast
Experience
Beginner
Thanks for all the great replies, it's awesome to see the wealth of knowledge shared and various methods suggested.

I will see how I get on with the pallet, and if it's annoying, try the hive to one side, and if that doesn't work, I'll ditch it. Also the slight angle in the hive for moisture to roll out the front makes sense.

I do have two hivedoctor bases on hand, so I'll use them next hive I get if I start from a nuc.

Also, organic treatment is what I'd like to get into, but as suggested I'll start off with these various treatments until I get more experience. I'll get onto buying some Apivar asap (hopefully tomorrow), and by the sounds of it 2 strips per brood box. I did see my first mite today on a bee outside the hive, they're bigger than I though and they crawl around whereas I thought they'd sit stationary all the time. Then I saw the other bees groom it off for her.

I saw my first healthy drone outside the hive and take flight, is this them getting kicked out at this time of the year?

I don't have any secondhand gear other than the broodboxes and from what I've heard already, it's not worth the risk.

My new suit and smoker arrived so I'm ready to go in, I'll do so once I've got the Apivar.

Thanks again guys and gals.
 
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Mummzie

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I saw my first healthy drone outside the hive and take flight, is this them getting kicked out at this time of the year?
the drones main role in the hive is to fly and to mate a queen. So they fly reasonably often....more likely to have success in the afternoon.
Its more seeing them declined re-entry.

Apivar comes in a package of 10 strips, so you will have 6 surplus. Consider getting Bayvarol as its 4 strips per box, and you can sometimes buy individual packs of 4 .
But whatever way you go, if you are seeing mites on bees- get something in ASAP
 
12
13
Kapiti Coast
Experience
Beginner
I went to HiveWorld this afternoon and bought 4 strips of Apivar and 2 packs of Bayvarol and a feeder for future use if needed.

So for my first inspection (possibly) tomorrow, should I put these Apivar strips in along with the oxalic acid strips? And these should cover me through the winter till spring correct? I did also get a couple packs of Bayvarol for later.

Some come tomorrow: I'll take off the top broodbox, place that on the ground ontop of the hive mat, then inspect/treat the lower box, then from there place the top on again and inspect/treat it from that position.. working from bottom upwards, correct?

..And another question. Can I put the frames into a new box without any harm and possibly the base to a hivedoctor one (yes/no for the base too?), so I can put my own rego number on them? Then I can repaint these ones the hive came with.

Cheers
 
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maungaturoto
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So for my first inspection (possibly) tomorrow, should I put these Apivar strips in along with the oxalic acid strips? And these should cover me through the winter till spring correct? I did also get a couple packs of Bayvarol for later.
pull the old oxalic strips out, be careful as no idea how old they are and if they still hold any acid.
put in the apivar strips, follow the instructions. 10 weeks is the length of time they stay in for.

Some come tomorrow: I'll take off the top broodbox, place that on the ground ontop of the hive mat, then inspect/treat the lower box, then from there place the top on again and inspect/treat it from that position.. working from bottom upwards, correct?
correct. just shake off the hive matt into the brood box before putting hive back together. seen it plenty of times when queen was sitting on the hive matt or lid and got put into the feeder.

And another question. Can I put the frames into a new box without any harm and possibly the base to a hivedoctor one (yes/no for the base too?), so I can put my own rego number on them? Then I can repaint these ones the hive came with.
yes. you can do a box swap. put old box on hive mat etc, new box on base, shift frames over. get any remaining bees out of old box into new box.
if there is no bees left in old box then its impossible to leave the queen in the old box.
 
12
13
Kapiti Coast
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Beginner
Cool. Thanks Tristan. I just checked out my hive now and saw a dead drone outside which I took inside to look at, and found on the underside a mite. The second one I've seen now. Also you said "be careful", why is that, is there some risk with leaving old strips in or is that because they're just an obstruction?

Come those 10 months to pass, I then place the Bayvarol strips in?

Sounds good, I'll swap the boxes and base after I mount some feet on it. And I must ask, are Hivedoctor bases overrated or underrated, or are they just an alternative for those who choose?
 


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