Our Discussion Forums and Online Classifieds may be viewed by anyone, but posting or responding to existing messages is limited to VBA members.

  Saturday, July 01 2023
  7 Replies
  1.1K Visits
I'm a new beekeeper, with my first hive bought May 20th from Northwoods Apiaries. I've been getting acquainted with my colony but things don't look like what "the pictures" online/in books/etc. look like.

When I take a super frame out, I don't see capped comb, I see either comb with bees underneath, cyclindrical comb or comb on one side with brood on the other. Not what I thought should be a sheet of honey comb (attached to the plastic frame bed), eventually capped.

Can anyone walk me back from the edge of despair?

5 months ago

It would be very helpful if you would post a few pictures. That way we could see what you're seeing and perhaps offer advice. (I also see you've signed up to work with a mentor. VBA is trying to find more mentors!) First year can be frustrating!

5 months ago
Wow !!! Been there done that. Fist of all it is somewhat unlikely that you will have much, if any, of a honey harvest the first year. You do not indicate if you have a queen excluder between your brood chamber (s) (deeps) and your super (usually mediums). With no excluder the queen will go up into the "super" and lay eggs and somewhat use it as a brood chamber. If that is the case it is totally natural to find brood in the super. A first year colony spends a lot of resources just drawing out comb so the queen has a place to lay eggs, tending to new bees, gathering and storing pollen and nectar for the upcoming Winter etc. Basically they are building the factory and then will produce a product in the future. Be patient, get a mentor, watch some good you -tube videos and hold on, it can be a rough ride !!!! The University of Guelph in Ontario Canada has some excellent videos....stick to Northern info. Good luck and keep asking questions. The VBA also has some great zoom videos that are available. Peter
5 months ago
Hi Greg and Peter,
I don't have a Queen excluder, so she is all over the place (I'm very excited that I know that!). I think I may have seen her today. I can tell the difference between honey comb and brood comb (another small victory!)

I've attached a couple of photos to help better describe my situation.

There are 2 that show vertical combs that were stuck to each other when I took them out. Not sure what to make of their 3D nature and that they connect the two frames.

The photo of just the sheet of comb is what I peeled off (please don't cringe) and the bees were behind it, on the foundation. The comb was dry.

The photo of the frame has what looks like rust marks on it.

Thanks for the referral to the UofG library. I'll keep watching any and all videos and reading up a storm.

Have a great evening,

PS Oh, and any advice on keeping a smoker lit for the entire time I'm in the hive would also be useful. Mine seems to stop smoking right about when I'm trying to close up (irregardless of how long I've been in :))
5 months ago
The "rust" looks like pollen, Completely natural.

Sometimes the bees draw out comb as seen in your pictures. New colony's take time to get everything drawn out and "pretty". Challenges of a new beekeeper and colony.

To keep your smoker working make sure you have plenty of fuel in it. No fuel no smoke....

Where are you located ? Is there a local club or nearby beekeeper that you could consult with ???
5 months ago
Hi Peter,

So, if I have this right, all I should be doing this summer is looking for the queen, making sure the comb is being drawn correctly (If not, do I scrape it out? )and testing for mites. Then follow the fall and winter prep?

I'm in Westfield and I've joined the Brownington group, but I haven't found anyone nearby who can help.

Thanks so much for your help - it is very much appreciated!
5 months ago
As for the smoker - I think it's in my timing. I always think it's good and full, until it runs out just before I want it to. Will pack the burlap in better next time!
5 months ago
It is OK to look for the queen, but much easier to look for eggs, larvae or pupae (capped brood) if you see this than you know you have a queen. I have problems spotting eggs, but eggs become larvae after 3 days, so if you see the little white "comma's" then you know the queen has been around, at least 3+ days ago. I would also not disturb the colony any more often than necessary. Give them a chance to set up house keeping. I would scrape off the vertical comb and hopefully they will continue to draw out horizontally. Be patient....the more you open up and poke around the more chances that you might kill the queen..

If the queen is doing a good job, lots of new bees being born, you might want to add a super. The frames might become honey bound and this leads to swarming. If the queen has no room to lay eggs she will swarm...

Smoker, put plenty of fuel in and occasionally give it a few puffs to insure that it stays lit.

Another comment is that it is usually better to start out with 2 or 3 colony's. Yes it is a big $$$$ spent, but without something to compare with how do you know if the colony is strong or weak. With additional colony's you can share resources sometimes to boost a weak colony.

Hopefully you can find a local mentor. Who said beekeeping was simple !!!!

Enjoy the 4th. Peter (phadeka@gmail.com)
  • Page :
  • 1
There are no replies made for this post yet.