first year beekeeper question

by susan
(angleton, texas)

I bought one hive from Beeweaver one year ago this month (April, 2011) and mine have never performed like the photos above...it is now April, 2012 and none of my frames are filled out like the above.

About a week ago I chose to trade out the plasticell frames for beeswax frames...I'm hoping that the bees might like that more.

I have no pollen, very spotty areas on about four frames that have some honey. What could I be doing wrong...the beekeepers that I have met aren't very willing to share info or help answer my questions.

I am picking up two nucs this week from Beeweaver in hopes that the nucs might be a little easier to get to perform and produce honey. I am a little discouraged right now.

Susan

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Hi Susan,

Sorry things aren't going great with your beekeeping. I'll tell you though - your hive has survived its first year, so you're obviously doing plenty of things right.

I noticed that you're in Texas, as am I, and Texas went through the worst drought in recorded history last summer. My bees made no surplus honey, and did well to make enough to survive the winter.

So I'm wondering if conditions may have been to blame for the poor performance of your bees. In my part of Texas, at least, there simply wasn't much forage for them once we got past early spring.

That could have impacted the rate at which your bees drew out (or didn't!) the foundation. It generally takes strong honey flows or continuous feeding for bees to build comb. When you're trying to establish a new colony, you want to be sure to feed them unless you're certain they have plenty of nectar to forage. Otherwise they simply won't be able to build combs effectively. The continuous supply of nectar (or sugar syrup) stimulates wax production and comb building.

In my experience, it's true that bees are sometimes a bit more hesitant to start drawing out plastic-based foundation over pure beeswax foundation. But if conditions are right (plenty of nectar or feeding), they'll draw out any kind of foundation when they need more comb for brood or honey storage.

Of course, bees face all kinds of problems these days, so I can't say for certain what the cause of your problem was last year. But my first guess would be that the conditions had a lot to do with it.

I'm glad you're going to stick with it, and I hope this season goes better for you.

Good luck!

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Feb 22, 2013
Feed your bees
by: Cecil

Hi Susan,

In South Africa we also have dry seasons and I have found that by feeding my bees (aka African Killer Bee) a sugar mixture of 1 part sugar to 2 parts water in a flat basin with enough space on the edge for the bees to congregate on. This I do during the winter months which allows the bees enough sugar and water to feed the queen who in turn carries on with the brood in preparation for the spring pollen flow. I normally place the basin off the ground close to the hives.
Good luck.

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