Well I've been a bit absent from the blog, no surprise there. Been crazy busy as always.

I just had a new customer pick up two nucs on Friday. I thought he was all set up and ready. I could have sworn he said he already had his equipment when he inquired about buying the nucs. But he wasn't! He didn't even have feeders! Oh well. I'll do my best to coach him through.

Anyway, that led to me digging up this video on how to move the nucs into a full size setup (once he gets his built or ordered in.) With it being spring time, and a lot of new folks getting into beekeeping, I figured it wouldn't hurt to share this again.

It really is this simple! Just move them over from one box to the other. 

Now, in a lot of cases, I've seen commercially sold nucs come with only 4 frames of bees and a division board feeder. This is OK. You didn't get ripped off, it's pretty standard. If that's the case, still center the frames up, 4 in the middle, with 3 frames to either side. If you want to move the feeder over too, that's your call. I prefer to use a Boardman feeder with the quart jar so I can see when it needs to be refilled, and don't have to open the hive to do so. 

Also on setup, I like to reduce the entrance down on the 10 frame box to about only 2" wide so they have a small entrance to defend like they did in the nuc. As they grow out of course I remove the reducers. 

Good luck on your setup! 

AuthorTom Brueggen

When it comes to feeding your bees, you do have options. Likely more options than even I know. Having covered open feeding in a prior blog, here we are going to cover in/on hive feeders. These are designed so bees don't have to go far to get feed, and should maintain that the feed only goes to that hive that needs it, rather than being a free for all like open feeding. 

For a quick video about the different types of feeders, here is video by a friend of mine. I actually sent him the pictures of the top feeder, so I claim some fame in this one :)

Jason does a wonderful job of laying out the pros and cons in the video so I'll simply reiterate and explain what I've experienced.

For starters, I simply don't like frame feeders. The big downside is having to open the hive to refill the feeder. Also, you have to open the hive just to check if the feeder needs to be refilled. I prefer a glass jar or a hive top feeder where I can take a quick peak. I also don't like the drowning aspect of the frame feeder. Furthermore, I don't like the violation of bee space. Hang around me long enough, and you'll learn that I beat bee space to death. In an area ridden with small hive beetles, proper bee space is critical.

Jar feeders. I use two different types of jar feeders. Boardman inserts on the front of the hive, and top feeders similar to a drip pail design. I like the top feeder as it can't be robbed by other bees. It sits snug down in the lid. I used a 3" hole saw and it fits a regular mouth Mason jar nicely. I've also modified this design to put a 1/8" hardware cloth so the bees can't come out when you replace the feeder. However, the screen does slightly inhibit the bees' ability to take the feeder. I've see far faster consumption when not using the screen. 

For the entrance application I just use the standard boardman insert. As Jason suggests, this can attract robbers, but I've never actually witnessed it. The biggest issue with a boardman is that you have to approach the front of the hive which is typically right in the flight path. If it's a warm night, there may be bees clustering on the feeder as well. Jar feeders do limit you to a quart, unless you can find a bigger jar, but a larger jar won't fit a boardman feeder as it will have a larger lid. Still you can use a larger jar like a pail feeder for feeding inside a super or open feeding. For more volume, you could place several boardman feeders side by side in the entrance of a 10 frame hive, at least 3 would fit I suppose. 

Top Reservoir Feeders: The other feeder I have used is the top reservoir feeder. I bought the plastic insert from Mann Lake LTD beekeeping supply. It fits a 10 frame dimension but is only I think about 4" deep, not quite a shallow super. I like this feeder for feeding large hives large volumes. The bees are screened below so you can remove to outer cover to check/refill the feeder. And the screen doubles as a way for the bees to keep from drowning. I like them as feeders, but don't use them very often, just because I'm rarely feeding that much. But if say you had a large package you were setting up in a 10 frame setup (or you caught a large swarm) they will take feed quickly, and it's very viable to give them 2-3 gallons. That beats filling a quart jar every day.  

So again, these are just the version I have used. There are others out there. Be careful with home made feeder options. Something like a chicken waterer or hummingbird feeder may seem like a quick fix, but in both cases I've actually seen the bees somehow get inside the reservoir, and then of course drown because the don't know how to swim or get back out. 

AuthorTom Brueggen

Never something I ever try to do, but sometimes you don't have a choice. If it's warm out, and it's a drizzly rain, then you're probably OK, if you don't mind getting damp yourself. But a heavier rain could be detrimental to a colony on keeping the bees and brood warm.

I didn't have a choice, I had to open the hive and do work after a cutout. So I rigged up a 10'x10' canopy to keep the rain off of me and the bees. It was about 70 degrees and a steady harder rain all day. There was no waiting it out. The canopy worked great to keep me and the girls dry, but had some flaws with the bees wanting to gather up at the peak. 

Still, it all worked out and the bees looked great, so that's a happy ending.


AuthorTom Brueggen

Now my first thought when I wrote that title was "safe from whom?" Safe from people who don't know any better and will kill on sight? Safe from varmints that might try to ransack the hive at night when the trash cans are empty? 

I often get asked the question by aspiring beekeepers "is it safe to keep bees in a neighborhood?" Long story short, absolutely! Let me explain my story. 

Before I ever got into beekeeping, my wife posed the same concerns. My response was simply that everything I read said it was OK. But until you live it, you never really know. Well, 3 years in, I can testify that it's very safe. Walking into my back yard, if you didn't actually see the beehives, you'd never know they were there. My back yard is not just a constant cloud of bees as some folks envision. And there aren't bees always hanging out pestering us on the back patio. 

In fact, I have a few beehives placed within 10' of my kids playground (temporary of course) and the kids still run and play all around there with no issues. Would I do this with a known aggressive hive? Absolutely not, that would be foolish. My bees have demonstrated exceptional gentleness and tolerance, to the point that I always work them without a suit, and without incident. I maintain my lawn, mowing and trimming right up to and around the beehives without incident. 

In my current situation, I have a lot only 100' wide. I have neighbors on both sides, to the north, they have three children ranging from 5-14 years old, and to the south an older couple. Oh, lets not forget my three children ranging from 4 months to just over 3 years old (17 mos apart!) We've never had a bee sting incident with the neighbors. Sure there has been the occasional swarm that gets people hyped up, but it quickly moves on, no one is harmed, and we all forget in a couple hours that it ever happened. 

So how is that it is in fact so safe? It's a function of the bee line, and the bees' mindset that is focused on work and not on you. Recall the line "he made a bee line for the door". Turns out, bees actually do this. They take the shortest path from A to B. In neighborhoods, we have fences in general 6' high. That means that a bee flying through the neighborhood tends to stay above 6' off the ground. As a matter of fact, I watch my bees leave the yard and actually go up and over the tree line! So as long as we aren't all hanging out in the tree tops, we should be OK. 

Furthermore, the foraging bee is never focused on being aggressive. Try taking a picture of a forager on a blossom sometime. Often they will move away and not let you get a good shot. It can frustrating to be a bee photographer. Honeybees are only defensive when they feel threatened. And for the average backyard hive, that is never. 

So we go back to the question "are honeybees safe in neighborhoods?" Just make sure the kids aren't using the beehives as goal posts in a backyard soccer game, and I think we'll be just fine. 

AuthorTom Brueggen
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