I have not updated here in ages. The last you saw, I was installing my second package of bees from a Nuc. Well, a lot has happened since then and now that my first beekeeping season with the Warre Hive is coming to a close, there are some pointers, thoughts, etc. that I would like to share.
1) Installing nucs into a Warre hive is not recommended: In order to get the frames into a Warre hive, they must be cut to size. This kills lots of brood, is sticky, and messy. In the future, I will stick with packages unless I plan on getting Langstroth hives
2) The Warre hive that contained the nuc frames eventually died out. There were a lot of Varroa, the overall health of the hive was much weaker, the queen left within a couple of weeks, and I had to combine the remaining Carnolian bees with my stronger package hive. I tried everything to keep the colony strong, but I believe the initial shock of cutting frames from the nuc to install into the Warre was too much.
3) Forget about fancy feeders. The bag feeder does the trick. Just make sure you put it on top of the bars of the top box, then put on the quilt cover followed by the quilt box. I put a special blend of essential oils into the 1:1 sugar syrup mix (for spring only) into a strong freezer type ziplock bag and then laid it gently onto the top bars so I didn’t squish any bees! I then used a razor and cut a 1.5 inch slit horizontal from the top bars. It works really well.
4) Inspect the hive: There are differing opinions about this and I am not going to argue with the ‘live and let live’ crowd who say we should just leave the bees alone. In theory, I agree with their logic. But, I think a thorough inspection every two weeks is essential to the beginner beekeeper. It really helps us understand the different cycles of the bees and gives us a better indication of the bees overall health. I don’t think you should inspect more than twice a month, but recently, I found wax moth larvae in my hive and had I not inspected, I am sure the colony would eventually die out. The colony is strong right now and they have done a pretty good job of removing wax moth larvae, but I was able to cut out infected areas which will help them in the long run. Basically, I think it is essential to inspect your hives from time to time.
5) Treat for Varroa: I am still chemical free, but I have applied Api Life Var to my hives now that the temps are starting to cool down. The drop count after just a couple of days of applying the Api Life Var is amazing. Even if the mite load is not wiped out, it feels good to know that I am reducing the number considerably before going into winter.
6) Feed in the fall: There has been a dearth of nectar here. I can tell by how much the comb building has slowed down. I am now feeding the bees a 2:1 ratio of sugar and water along with some essential oils. I have also made patties which consist of Crisco vegetable shortening, sugar, a bit of mineral salt, and some essential oils. This is suppose to help with tracheal mites.
7) Learn from your mistakes: I have made a lot of mistakes over the last few months, but I have learned from them and know what to do in the future. To have a colony fail is depressing, but the more I learn, the better I will be at beekeeping.
8 ) Do not be greedy: I have seen lots of honey in those combs, but it is still not enough for me to rob them of their food this first year. If you want the colony to survive, don’t extract honey unless they truly have enough resources to get them through the winter. I think it is an unethical practice to take honey and then try and supplement the loss with sugar syrup. Only take when there is honey aplenty.