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Commercial Hive Description

Commercial hives are exactly the same external dimensions as a National hive, but instead of having a rebate the hive is a simple cuboid. Because of this the frames are larger and have shorter handles or lugs. The brood box is picked up using small hand holds cut into the external wall of the hive. Supers have this same feature, which can make them difficult to hold when full of honey. Some beekeepers therefore use National supers on top of a Commercial brood box.

General Hints

It is a mistake to think that there is a lot of money to be made from beekeeping, and any who make a start under that impression will without doubt be greatly disappointed. As a matter of fact, it would be absurd to believe beekeeping as a sole means of obtaining a livelihood on account of the uncertain climate of this country; in one year the returns might be extremely good, whilst in the following one they may be nothing and with a great reduction in the working capital as well. Taking the craft on the whole it is profitable enough if thoroughly understood, but so many rush into it before they are even acquainted with the parts of a hive, let alone with the bees themselves, that disaster is inevitable both to the beekeeper and the bees, total extinction, indeed, is often the result To be successful there must first be a close study of the bees and their ways from practical books on the subject; novices can also obtain great help by joining either the local or county beekeepers’ association, as it brings them into touch with experienced beekeepers, who are always ready to give advice or a helping hands At the same time it is a great mistake for them to become entirely dependent upon such aid as so many do, for there are many so-called beekeepers who have possessed bees for years and yet have never once handled them, and certainly never captured a swarm. Most associations organise lectures and demonstrations, so that there is no excuse for anyone to remain in ignorance concerning this most interesting of all crafts. A note of caution , Some associations are better then others and it may be wise to try a few local ones before you decide to join, After all, they have to fit-in with you as well as you, them. There are many more who would like to keep bees were it not for their sting. It would be foolish to suggest that one will never be stung, ( YOU WILL !! ) but as bee stings are good for rheumatism ( IF you believe popular myth & some science) a few at least should be acceptable. just remember that some people will react badly to stings and some will be allergic. A great deal depends upon the care exercised in manipulating the hive and the bees whether a bad time of it is experienced or not.

WBC Description

Wbc Hive

The WBC, invented by and named after William Broughton Carr, is a double-walled hive with an external housing that splays out towards the bottom of each frame covering a standard box shape hive inside.

The WBC is in many respects the ‘classic’ ( Winne The Pooh ) hive as represented in pictures and paintings, but despite the extra level of insulation for the bees offered by its double-walled design many beekeepers avoid it due to the inconvenience of having to remove the external layer before the hive can be examined.

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Uniting Bees

Uniting bees is just about joining more than one colony of bees together to form a stronger one for a special purpose. Uniting bees is a very simple concept but one that is rarely used or necessary in the development beekeeping context. However, occasionally a beekeeper may find that by uniting several stocks of bees they can have a good honey producing colony instead of two small ones that may abscond or die out because they are small.

Why should the beekeeper unite bees?

The most important reasons are:
  • The colonies are very small or weak
  • One of the colonies has lost its queen
  • There have been lots of swarms and the swarms are very small so may not be productive for this harvest
  • The beekeeper wants to try rearing queens and wants to build up strong colonies
  • The colonies need feeding or treating and it is cheaper to do this with a smaller number of colonies that can be divided when they are strong enough.
  • The beekeeper might want to make nucleus hives from more than one colony to reduce the weakening effect this has on each colony
Colonies will not normally join together without fighting because each colony has a distinct colony odour that ensures the worker bees know which is their home and when intruders are trying to invade it. This causes them to fight which can cause many worker bees to be killed. To successfully unite colonies this odour has to be mixed in the two colonies in a way that prevents the bees form fighting. This can be done in a number of ways. The easiest method is used in frame hives which is to put the two brood boxes, one on top of the other, with a sheet of newspaper in between the two. The hive that is being moved is put on top of the other hive so the bees are trapped in the top until they have eaten their way through the newspaper. This ensures they do not fly back to their original site but learn their new place. Both sets of bees eat the newspaper gradually and in a few days their colony odours will have mixed and the two colonies will peacefully become one colony – but a much stronger colony. If there was queen present in each part, the two queens will have fought and the strongest on taken over the colony. In other hive types, top bar hives for instance, it is not possible to use this method of uniting. In this case other methods can be used. The simplest is to spray all the combs bees with a liquid mixture of syrup (sugar and water) as they are mixed together. The bees will them have to clean each other up and by the time they have done this they will have mixed up the smells and become one colony. If this is tried and the second colony has not moved far, then the entrance will need to be blocked with some grass for a few days until the bees that have moved their position have worked out the position of their new home. Otherwise they will all fly back to the original hive position and the situation will be worse than before. In any colony if worker bees are joined up from three or more colonies they will unite easily. This is because there will be so much pheromone smell that the bees are entirely confused and accept each other by the time the colony has settled down. Consequently, three or more small swarms can be put into one hive and, if they don’t abscond first, they will join into one large colony. It is important to know why the bees are small and if it because they are diseased they should not be united. If a diseased colony is joined with a healthy one -the healthy colony will become infected too

Worker Bee Rolls

Listed Below are the believed rolls for the worker Bees’

Cell Cleaning (Day 1-2) Brood cells must be cleaned before the next use – cells will be inspected by the queen and if unsatisfactory will not be used. Worker bees in the cleaning phase will perform this cleaning. If the cells are not clean, the worker bee must do it again. Nurse bee (Day 3-11) Nurse bees feed the worker larvae worker jelly which is secreted from glands that produce royal jelly. Advanced Nurse Bees (Day 6-11) Feed royal jelly to the queen larva and drones receive worker jelly for 1 to 3 days at which time they are started on a diet of honey and pollen. Wax production (Day 12-17) Wax Bees – build cells from wax, repair old cells, and store nectar and pollen brought in by other workers. Early in the worker’s career she will exude wax from the space between several of her abdominal segments. Four sets of wax glands, situated inside the last four ventral segments of the abdomen, produce wax for comb construction. Worker activities Honey sealing (Day18 – 22 ) Mature honey, sufficiently dried, is sealed tightly with wax to prevent absorption of moisture from the air by workers deputized to do same. Drone feeding Drones do not feed themselves; they are fed by workers. Queen attendants The attendants groom and feed the queen. They also collect QMP (Queen Mandibular Pheromone) from the queen and share it with the bees around them who also share it spreading its effects through the hive. Honeycomb building Workers will take wax from wax producing workers and build the comb with it. Pollen packing Pollen brought into the hive for feeding the brood is also stored. It must be packed firmly into comb cells and mixed with a small amount of honey so that it will not spoil. Unlike honey, which does not support bacterial life, stored pollen will become rancid without proper care. It has to be kept in honey cells. Propolizing The walls of the hive are covered with a thin coating of propolis, a resinous substance obtained from plants. In combination with enzymes added by the worker this has antibacterial and antifungal properties. Propolis is used to aide with ventilation and at the entrances of hives. Mortuary bees Dead bees and failed larvae must be removed from the hive to prevent disease and allow cells to be reused. They will be carried some distance from the hive by mortuary bees. Guard Bees (Days 18 – 21) protect the entrance of the hive from enemies Soldiers hang around near the entrance and attack invaders. They work in concert with entrance guards. Entrance guard bees inspect incoming bees to ensure that they are bringing in food and have the correct hive odor. Other bees will be rejected or attacked with soldier bees. Outside guard bees may take short flights around the outside of the hive in response to disturbances. Fanning bees Worker bees fan the hive, cooling it with evaporated water brought by water carriers. They direct airflow into the hive or out of the hive depending on need. Water carriers When the hive is in danger of overheating, these bees will obtain water, usually from within a short distance from the hive and bring it back to spread on the backs of fanning bees. The worker bee has a crop separate from the nectar crop for this purpose. Foraging bees (Days 22 – 42) The forager and scout bees travel (up to 1.5 miles) to a nectar source, pollen source or to collect propolis.

Opening The Hive

Before approaching the hive, make sure your smoker will not go out just when you need it. Move quietly: any bumping or jarring (dropping a hive-tool or smoker on the roof, perhaps) is communicated to the bees as vibrations through their feet, causing instant alarm. Puff a little smoke in the entrance, wait a minute, then standing behind or beside the hive, carefully lift off the roof. The roof is usually placed upside down nearby to act as a container for parts removed later. Loosen the inner cover with your hive-tool, lift one corner or slew it a little and puff some smoke in the gaps. The smoke causes bees to run into the open cells and start gorging themselves with honey, making them less aggressive. You must gain control of the bees straightaway and maintain it with a gentle reminder from time to time. Once a cloud of bees has roared into the air, it is too late. Knowing when and where to smoke is learnt by experience and by watching an experienced beekeeper or perhaps painful mistakes The cover / crown board / inner roof is removed and stood askew on the upside down roof, which avoids hurting bees on its underside. If there is a super on the hive, it and the inner cover could be removed together. Make a gap between it and the queen excluder, puff in some smoke, and lift off. Puff smoke across the excluder to drive the bees down, lever it off, shake off the bees over the brood box, and put it aside. To shake off the bees, hold the excluder firmly with one hand and bit that wrist a sharp blow with the other hand. There is always a little spare space in a brood box, so the next step, if you have the Hoffman frames, is to lever the whole block of frames to the far side of the box with the hive-tool, so allowing as much room as possible for withdrawing the first frame. Loosen the ends of the first frame in turn, put the hive-tool somewhere handy (later you will be able to hold it as well), grasp the frame lugs with thumb and forefinger and lift it slowly up, trying to avoid rolling bees against the next comb or the hive-wall. Once it is clear, adjust your grip with your palms against the side bars. You can now study the side of the comb nearest you. Brood combs must never be held flat; when they are warm and heavy with brood and stores the whole comb could drop out of the frame, and honey drips everywhere. To turn the frame round, a series of movements is used which keeps the comb vertical at all times. See Frame examination Outside combs seldom contain brood. This being so, you can shake all the bees off the first frame and prop it against the side or front of the hive where you will not kick it. This gives much more room for removing and replacing other frames without damage to the bees. Each frame is examined in turn and replaced in its former position so that the exact formation of the brood nest is maintained. The frame being handled should always be held over the brood box. A laying queen is heavy and unwieldy, and if she fell from the frame into the grass she would seldom regain her hive. Also, workers will clear up any honey which drips on to the frame tops, but any dripped outside the hive attracts wasps and robbing bees. A queen is particularly liable to damage if she is on the wooden frame, rather than the comb, when it is being replaced, so check this. A beginner examines the combs to familiarise himself with the normal appearance and development of brood, and to learn to recognise the different castes of bee, pollen, and honey. t may seem impossible to pick out a queen among so many bees but, once you have seen one, a queen is unmistakable, and facility in spotting her comes with experience. She is most easily found when the colony is small in spring, and usually on the central combs. If there is a laying queen there will be eggs, looking like tiny white dashes in the bottom of the cells. Light reflection can mislead, so tilt the comb a little each way as you search for them. Learn to distinguish capped brood and capped honey: brood will occupy the centers of the combs, honey the top outside corners. Between the two will be a ring of cells filled with pollen which may be green, yellow, orange, brick red, and even black, according to source. Drone cells with distinctive domed cappings tend to be in the lower corners of the outermost combs. Later, when the novice has a full-sized stock, this will be examined comb by comb in the same way for signs of swarming. Even a nucleus may have to raise a new queen if its own is injured. Queen cells are not always as obvious as might be thought, because workers often cluster thickly over them and they are often cunningly sited just inside the frame bars. At a certain stage in swarm control, when every cell must be found, the bees must be shaken from each comb in turn to allow a thorough search to be made. When all combs have been examined, replace the first frame if it was left out, the same way round as before, lever the whole block to one side to push them close together, and then centre it to leave an equal space each end. Puff smoke over the top, and replace the excluder, checking that it is the right way up if there is a difference. Put back the super and inner cover, and the roof, checking that they are exactly straight to avoid gaps. Collect the smoker, hive-tool and so on before leaving. It is worth making a box to carry your tools, including the smoker after it is cool, also spare fuel, a notebook and pencil, and later on such things as drawing pins and queen cages. Beginners can usefully make more comprehensive notes of anything seen during examination, rather than the word or two an experienced beekeeper puts on his record card. Something not understood at the time often becomes clear later, in the light of other developments. One can work out at leisure what has happened or will happen and look for the confirmation next time.

The Honey Bee Colony

A colony of honeybees in early summer consists of a queen, thousands of workers and a few hundred drones living together as a community upon double-sided combs containing brood and stores of honey and pollen. The queen alone lays the eggs from which the other members of the colony develop, the workers from fertilized eggs and the drones from unfertilized eggs laid in slightly larger cells. The combs are made of wax secreted by the workers. In colonies living ‘wild’ in hollow trees or in cavities in walls the workers construct the combs unaided, but in modern moveable-comb hives the beekeeper provides thin, flat sheets of beeswax, embossed with a regular hexagonal pattern and enclosed by hanging wooden frames, for the bees to use as a foundation upon which to build the rows of cells on either side. The fertilized eggs laid by the queen in worker cells take three days to hatch. The tiny grubs, or larvae, are fed by nurse bees and grow rapidly to reach their full size five days later. Their cells are then sealed over with porous cappings of wax and the larvae turn into pupae from which the young workers emerge in another 12 -14 days, when they chew their way through the cappings to join the older workers on -the combs. Drones take a few days longer to develop. By midsummer the colony will have reached its greatest strength, with up to fifty thousand or more bees if all goes well. Thereafter, the population of workers will decline, and by early autumn all the drones will have died, leaving the queen and a reduced number of workers to survive the winter. Breeding starts again early in the year, (January or February) , slowly at first, but with gradually increasing numbers of young workers emerging to replace the old, over-wintered bees until the peak of egg-laying by the queen is reached about four months later. The cycle of colony growth and decline might, however, be interrupted by the issue of a swarm, usually sometime in May, June or July. The causes of swarming are not fully understood, though it is known that overcrowding of the hive is one of the predisposing factors. Whatever the cause, the effect is that a large proportion of the workers, together with the queen, pours out of the hive during the heat of a fine day and flies around before settling in a tight cluster on a nearby bush or other convenient support. If the swarm is not taken by the beekeeper, the bees and the queen will eventually fly off to establish a new colony in a new home, discovered for them by scout bees, usually some distance away from the hive from which they issued. The rest of the bees will remain behind in the hive, with the brood. On the brood combs will be some queen cells large, acorn-shaped cells which hang mouth downwards and contain larvae hatched from normal fertilized eggs but fed on a special diet of ‘royal jelly’ produced by die nurse bees. In these cells queens will develop, one of which, after mating in the air with several drones in succession, will become the new laying queen of the swarm’s ‘parent / original’ colony. The issue of a swarm brings about a sudden depopulation of the hive, and a consequent decrease in the foraging capacity of the colony, at a time of year when nectar is likely to be readily available. It is, therefore, important for the beekeeper to take steps to avoid his bees to swarm, by using methods to be discussed later, if he in the maximum amount of honey possible.