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New member in Haute Saone France with 6 Voirnot hives and one top bar

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Hello forum I have been keeping bees for 3 years now and started by attending a course in the UK. Competent at the regular tasks however I would say I am not a successful bee keeper. For example no honey in the supers this year, I do not take any from the brood box. I tried very hard this year to control swarms with weekly inspections, splits where appropriate however as the year went on the bees became more and more aggressive making the inspections that much harder. Started a top bar two years ago and learnt the hard way to check how they are building comb, all built diagonally across the bars, so I started again this year by introducing a swarm to the top bar however on a recent inspection they had not survived.
So next year is a new year and I will be seeking a lot of advice to improve my skills. One area that interests me is shade, this year was again very hot where we are and my hives are in the open, could it be that my bees are spending all there time keeping the brood cool and therefore not making honey. Would it be better to build a lean too over the hives this winter. The first year I had the hives on the edge of a wood with shade in the afternoon however in the winter a couple of trees came down and narrowly missed the hives so I moved them last January from under the trees into the open.
Look forward to some good chats
 

Amari 

Drone Bee
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Suffolk
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Hello forum I have been keeping bees for 3 years now and started by attending a course in the UK. Competent at the regular tasks however I would say I am not a successful bee keeper. For example no honey in the supers this year, I do not take any from the brood box. I tried very hard this year to control swarms with weekly inspections, splits where appropriate however as the year went on the bees became more and more aggressive making the inspections that much harder. Started a top bar two years ago and learnt the hard way to check how they are building comb, all built diagonally across the bars, so I started again this year by introducing a swarm to the top bar however on a recent inspection they had not survived.
So next year is a new year and I will be seeking a lot of advice to improve my skills. One area that interests me is shade, this year was again very hot where we are and my hives are in the open, could it be that my bees are spending all there time keeping the brood cool and therefore not making honey. Would it be better to build a lean too over the hives this winter. The first year I had the hives on the edge of a wood with shade in the afternoon however in the winter a couple of trees came down and narrowly missed the hives so I moved them last January from under the trees into the open.
Look forward to some good chats
Welcome to the Forum!
Strange that you got no honey in the supers. Are there other beekeepers in the same area to make comparison and maybe get advice?

In my latitude I prefer to keep my hives as sunny as possible - my bees certainly fly more from a hive in the sun rather than the shade and from poly hives more than wooden. I'm always intrigued to see rows of hives in full sun in Turkey and Greece but the bees (and the beekeepers) presumably survive.
 

hemo 

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My colonies in general do better in full sun then shade.
Forage availability can differ year in year out at the same locale.
Last year one colony gave me 36kg in summer and yet this year they only returned 12kg for summer, though they did have a good spring and returned 37kg.
 
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Thanks for your thoughts, I would have been happy with the 12 kg. Our location is in the vogue national park and we are at 650 meters so the season is shorter here and for the last three years the surrounding pine tree have been felled due to disease. It could be that until the areas recover forage is very poor, for example where the pines have been removed it is largely barren with gorse and brambles starting to cover.
I will talk to some other bee keepers in the area and see how they got on this year.
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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Glanaman,Carmarthenshire,Wales
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Too many - but not nearly enough
forage is very poor, for example where the pines have been removed it is largely barren with gorse and brambles starting to cover.
Brambles give good bee forage and you may get plenty of rosebay willowherb (fireweed) after a fresh conifer felling
 

The Poot 

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Welcome Goshawk.
As the song goes- “things can only get better...”
The colonies I have had that have done best, are those that get direct sunshine, but also are part shaded in the hottest part of the day.
I‘m sure you’ll get it together next year.
 
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Hi Thanks, the temperatures here in July and August can reach 36deg C, more like Greece and Turkey so I still wonder if more shade is needed. I also recall seeing hives in Cyprus in full sun, up to 40 deg in August so I cannot decide the best action. I have noticed however a lot of the French have their hives under cover, morning sun afternoon shade. I have time to decide and good advice coming in.
 

happyculteur 

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Location
alpes de haute provence,france altitude 4000 ft.
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warre
Salut and welcome. Why did you choose Voirnot hives? Because they are the most popular near you ? If I remember rightly they have frames 33cm by 33 cm and the super is only 10 cm high. If this is the case then one brood box would be a bit low on stores for overwintering comfortably. I'm thinking maybe when the bees start to forage after winter they may not have enough in reserve to begin properly the big build up to the main flow. So not enough bees for flow means not enough honey. Only a thought.
As for position, I like shade at the edge of a wood, but for a better honey production hives in the sun is preferable. If the sun is too hot in summer then you can do the old matchstick trick to give some through ventilation🤬 but never in winter. You can also put some leafy twigs or weighed down corrugated cardboard on the roof. I have even put a super full of straw between the crownboard and the roof.
What is very important now is to find out the forage that exists around about. Some mountain regions can be a b***er for flowers.
 

Podilia 

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I don't see any difference in productivity between the hives in sun and in the shade except the comfort work for a beekeeper in the shade. In my location summer is usually very warm. I fix an umbrella to a shovel and move on with that thing around the hives in sun.
I have heard that EU got 40% less honey this year, in my country the yeild is bad too. The bright side is that the price is higher.
Mountains with pine forests are usually poor for bees. But in deforestated areas vegetation is better for beekeeping, there are more sunshine and flowers. For example, carpathian beekeepers have to extract even the frames with capped brood. I'm not sure that their honey is sugar free.
I use dadant frames (435 x 300 mm) in a brood box and for winter. I think it would be better for the beginning to use a hive with ordinary frames rather than a top bar hive.
 
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Thank you Happyculture and Podilia, I have Voirnot hives just by default, my first bees came from a beekeeper with Voirnot hives and so I bought four second hand hives on Leboncoin. I now know that Dadant are more common around here. I like the idea of ventilating or insulating the space above the crown board. Where is UA? I also take an umbrella round with me, a big garden umbrella that I can stick in the ground.
 
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Thank you Jenkinbrynmair, I have observed that after the pines are removed that first Gorse and brambles, then silver birch, Rowan and foxglove arrive. We have very little willow herb around here, it is very dry in summer, one of the reason the disease in the pines spread so fast was that the summers are getting dryer each year. It is also sad that some parcel owners have decided to completely clear there land to replant with Douglas fir in the misguided hope that Douglas will not be diseased as the current Epise (not sure of the English name for these pines)
 

happyculteur 

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alpes de haute provence,france altitude 4000 ft.
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My experience is that the earlier the sun hits the hive the earlier the bees go off foraging and the quicker the build up. (In a flow of course).
Do you have problems taking the frames out of a Voirnot hive?
When I began beekeeping I was lucky to have a professional beekeeper near to me. (Marc Gatineau who ran Warrés ). He told me that we prepare next year's harvest this year. The best advice I ever got. If you have only a few hives and you want a crop, it's the strong colonies that will give it. If you decide to do splits on your strong colonies then they will produce the year after, not the same year. If all goes well. That's what I learned as a bungling beginner.
 
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Thank you Jenkinbrynmair, I have observed that after the pines are removed that first Gorse and brambles, then silver birch, Rowan and foxglove arrive. We have very little willow herb around here, it is very dry in summer, one of the reason the disease in the pines spread so fast was that the summers are getting dryer each year. It is also sad that some parcel owners have decided to completely clear there land to replant with Douglas fir in the misguided hope that Douglas will not be diseased as the current Epise (not sure of the English name for these pines)
 
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Yes Epicea thank you, Spruce. I do not find the frames on the Voirnot hives difficult to remove. I am not keen on doing splits because with 6 hives I feel that is enough for now, however I have made splits as part of swarm control, I thought that was the best way to manage swarms; this year I tried destroying queen cell once capped, some success however still had swarms, less than year before, and I also became concerned that I could be stopping the bees requeening themselves. At one point I became worried that I had left a hive queenless, I had not as I found eggs after the night of the long knives. I think if I lived in England I would join a club and get help, I do not know of beekeeping clubs in my area of France. I add supers quite early to give the extra space, this year the wax on the supers sagged in the heat before any comb was built on it and so was wasted, again why I worry about the hives being too hot!
 

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