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Haughton Honey 

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I'm interested in knowing how members of the panel would approach this situation.

I've just been given an old National hive that a local farmer found abandoned in the corner of one of his fields amongst some bracken recently, with a vague recollection that a local beek in his 80s used to keep a few scattered around that part of the farm.

Having inspected it (giving it a 'visual' from about 5 feet away, not having any smock or tools with me!), it appears that there is a colony in residence.....lucky me....possibly....and that it's evident that it's not been maintained for some years - 3 to 5 seasons at a guess. I saw a lot of pollen being taken in by what looks like dark, fairly typical mongrel bees and the woodwork is not at its best, to say the least - roof rusty/splits etc - there was even an exposed super on top of the hive full of manky SN1 frames......which led me to have a hunt around for the bones of the old beek as it was a little 'Mary Celeste'!

How would you approach this?

a) Go through the hive on a warm day to check for any diseases and to see if there are enough stores, but leave it in situ until the spring and see if it makes it through the winter months. Think about he-housing the colony elsewhere then.

b) Remove the hive as a whole to an isolated spot in the apiary, inspect for disease and then place the frames that the brood is on in to a clean hive with the aim of a comb exchange in the spring.

c) As the weather is still warm move the hive to a new location in the apiary, inspect to check for disease and then undertake a shook swarm in to a new brood box with DRAWN comb....feeding heavily afterwards.

Any other ideas?

I have to say that I'm leaning towards option C, but only because it's unseasonally warm at the moment and I have a fair amount of drawn comb lying about.

WPC
 

JCBrum 

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c) As the weather is still warm move the hive to a new location in the apiary, inspect to check for disease and then undertake a shook swarm in to a new brood box with DRAWN comb....feeding heavily afterwards.
This option is definitely wrong as it imposes no potential disease quarantine period before moving to a new location, which ideally should be 3 miles away anyway.

White Park Cattle said:
b) Remove the hive as a whole to an isolated spot in the apiary, inspect for disease and then place the frames that the brood is on in to a clean hive with the aim of a comb exchange in the spring.
This is wrong too because of the 3 mile rule, but you could put the contents into a clean hive on the same spot.


White Park Cattle said:
a) Go through the hive on a warm day to check for any diseases and to see if there are enough stores, but leave it in situ until the spring and see if it makes it through the winter months. Think about he-housing the colony elsewhere then.
Probably you should do this anyway but I'd think about a new floor and roof, and strap up the old boxes with cord or something to hold it all together, and see my remarks below.


White Park Cattle said:
I'm interested in knowing how members of the panel would approach this situation.
I think that the overwhelmingly important question is whether the farmer will allow you to keep bees in the same location. If that is so, then the site would be a very valuable 'out apiary' for you which otherwise might be hard to come by. You must discuss this with him, and tell him you'll donate some honey in return.

Vehicle access is important for out apiaries, and at least you need easy 'wheelbarrow' access for the last 100 yds or so.

If he says you must move the bees, I would put the existing frames into a new hive on the same site and monitor for disease for a month. Then move the lot to another site further than 3 miles.

If you must move them immediately, then put them in a transport box or hive, and take them somewhere where they cant affect your existing hives.

JC.
 

Haughton Honey 

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JC,

My mistake - I didn't explain myself very well - I meant move the hive but keep well away from my other hives whilst checking/monitoring for disease.

Not sure about ensuring it's 3 miles or more from my own hives - a lot can take place within a 3 mile radius of an apiary with regards to fellow beeks moving 'stock', but I wholeheartedly agree with you about being responsible enough to keep it well away from my main hives.

I'm lucky in that I have a number of apiary sites, none of which are used to their full potential (yet). The farmer's asked me to take charge and remove the hive as soon as reasonably possible as they want to undertake a 'bracken management' plan, hence why this has arisen.

WPC
 

Chris B 

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Foulbroods are not likely to be very apparent at this time of year, even in an infected colony, due to lack of brood (or at least high number of bees relative to brood, so the bees can mask the problem by clearing it up). So an inspection isn't going to tell you much, except if they are on their last legs anyway. Varroa is likely to be there untreated so why not just give a dose of Apiguard (it's still warm enough for a late treatment) and leave it at that until Spring. Then do a shook swarm into a new box of foundation in situ, and move to your own apiary as soon as they have brood again. That would be my approach. The only other consideration is winter stores. A quick hefting will tell you if all is well - if light you can give some fondant to get them through.
 

VEG 

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If they have to be moved then you have nowt to loose. Try and save as much of the brood as possible. You may be better off trying to strap it up and move it as it is and then sort it out in the spring. Give it a dose of oxcalic at the end of the year. The bees have done well so far.:cheers2:
 

thurrock bees 

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a) Go through the hive on a warm day to check for any diseases and to see if there are enough stores, but leave it in situ until the spring and see if it makes it through the winter months. Think about he-housing the colony elsewhere then


i think that would be the better option, you dont know the bees temperment, if any diseases are present,or they will make it tho. i would change the super body and a new roof so it's water tight and let nature take it's course, until the spring when you should have sealed brood to look at .

TB
T
 

ian 

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Hi all

Unless there has been a problem on the site with brood diseases in the past I would not get to hung up on that side of things. After all if you have bees on the farm it's probabaly one of your swarms:svengo:

Don't bother with a full inspection at this time of year, old frames have a habbit of falling apart in your hands. Even when they look sound as you start to pull them apart.:rolleyes:

A look under the crown board to check if they are worth the effort to save and theres not just a handfull of bees, treat(I would just slide an Apistan strip in) Check for food as Chris said and ensure the roof and hive are at least water tight.:nature-smiley-12:

If you need to move them then I would do so as they are, if not leave untill Spring.


Regards Ian
 

oliver90owner 

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No need to wait until spring. They could be moved a relatively short distance during a prolonged cold spell which is likely just before, or after, the year end. Propping a board against the hive to make them re-orientate would likely be all it might need.

I would simply move them to a safe, sheltered area near to where they are now or to an out-apiary and make a final decision much later.

Regarding foul brood - it is unlikely if the colony is thriving, but obviously needs to be treated as suspect until proven otherwise.

Basically this is no different than housing a swarm except you might have infected woodwork as well. The most important thing is cleanliness of your kit after the move or inspections.

If the hive is sealable and transportable, move it three miles from where it is now and nurse it carefully through the winter. Those bees may be a recent swarm or they may be fairly varroah-tolerant and been living there happily for some years. Nobody knows.

If they are a varroah-tolerant colony, they are a worthwhile experimental hive. You would need to know if the brood is on original cells/comb or whether the comb has been drawn after previous consumption by waxmoth.

Is it a cedar hive or soft-wood? That may give you some idea of how long it have been abandoned, or how long not, as the case may be.

I am with Thurock bees mainly but I would not disturb them more than necessary and to make the move whenever appropriate - obviously the sooner the better. I would ask in the local pub/shop/post office for the identity of any 80 year old beeks in the neighbourhood either still going or deceased.

Like Frisbees bees in the tree - the queen could be a marked one. Again, who knows.

The one thing I would avoid is re-housing them onto new comb at this time of the year.

Regards, RAB
 

thedeaddiplomat 

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As a complete newbeek, I wonder what is wrong (farmer willing) with leaving them entirely alone until early spring. If they survive the winter, why not transfer them, while the colony is still small into something like a nuc box, and move (and inspect/treat) them. The old hive could then be torched, repaired and moved to their new home where they could all be happily reunited?

Or have I overlooked something really obvious and elementary (as is so often the case!)?
 

JCBrum 

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White Park Cattle said:
The farmer's asked me to take charge and remove the hive as soon as reasonably possible
thedeaddiplomat said:
have I overlooked something really obvious and elementary
depends on the interpretation of " as soon as reasonably possible " ...... I took that to mean next week perhaps ?
 

JCBrum 

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Then I would just strap up the existing hive to keep it in one piece and put it somewhere else with a new floor and a new roof if possible, till a fine day in spring. Maybe you could put a block of Fondant on to be on the safe side. Good luck, you'll probably save them if you don't interfere too much. :)
 

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