If you’ve been around here for a little while, you know that we’ve been experiencing a hot hive. So in this blog, I’m talking all about managing a hot bee hive.

We relocated the Texan bees into their new hive! Remember that we had previously removed the screws that held the Langstroth frames into the adaptors for the Layens Hive. On a bit of a wing and a prayer, I’d hoped that propolis would hold it all together until we could move the frames into their new hive. It held and made life much easier on the day!

Managing a Hot Bee Hive

The first step to managing a hot bee hive is to figure out what went wrong. Quite a bit of literature says that Layens Hives don’t work particularly well where it’s hot – like South Texas! The reason for this is that the frames are deeper than Langstroth frames and the comb can get too soft in the summer heat to support itself; this results in the comb falling off the frame and you get one sticky mess in the hive. It’s a mess the bees will clean up, but it’s still a big mess!

Stuart constructed our Layens frames with a thin dowel across the middle to give extra support and we have to say that it worked. We had several completely full frames of honeycomb that was very stable. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos. After deciding that our ‘mad’ bees needed our full attention, I didn’t take a camera down with me. I will tell you that some of the new comb was quite beautiful – creamy yellow and architecturally divine.

Langstroth Frame on the left, Layens Frame on the right. Note the supporting dowel across the Layens Frame.

The Problem

Our problem was the adaptors that held the original Langstroth frames into the Layens Hive. They were causing lots of problems with cross combing – comb being built across several frames and in odd places that makes it really hard to work the hive.

I don’t think we will entirely abandon the idea of a Layens hive but will definitely just use the correct frames without ‘adaptors’!

Why a Horizontal Langstroth Hive

A traditional Langstroth Hive is a series of boxes stacked in a tower. When full of honey these boxes can be very heavy – 60 lb and up! Because Stuart and I want to be beekeeping well into old age we decided that the Horizontal Langstroth Hive would be very well suited for us

bee nutrition during summer dearth
Showing inner covers over frames – only open a small bit of the hive at one time. This is my Italian Hive decorated with a floral representation of glucose and fructose – the sugars in honey!

Benefits of a Horizontal Langstroth:

  • Covers over the frames means that you only ‘open’ a small part of the hive at any one time. This makes the bees less mad and gives us a better/easier time working the hives.
  • Thicker walls – because the hive never moves, the walls can be made much thicker than a traditional Lang. This seems to give the hive better protection from the South Texas summer heat.
  • A heavy honey filled frame is easier to move than a whole honey super.

Our Honey Bee Hive Relocation

Just like any ‘relocation’ we had a few problems. Our plan was to:

  • Move the Texan bees into their new hive – PARTIAL SUCCESS
  • Find the Queen and kill her – FAILURE
  • Whizz over to The Gretchen Bee Ranch in Seguin and pick up a nice new Italian Queen – DIDN’T HAPPEN

Moving the Honey Comb

One important thing I’d learned from going to a ‘bee rescue’ a few weeks ago was how to take some honey comb and move it into a new frame. Twine zig zagging across the frame supports the honey comb and big rubber bands hold it in place. Below is a photo of a frame ready to use from that bee rescue.

managing a hot bee hive
Frame ready for cutout comb. You can see the rubber bands on the ends, ready to hold the new comb in place.

So we had to cut out some of the comb from the Layens frames and put it into a Langstroth frame. I’d have to say that we were moderately successful. I really mangled one piece of comb that was full of honey. This piece I left on a bucket lid some distance from the hives for bees to recycle. I didn’t want to leave it too close in case robber bees were attracted to it, with the potential of attacking my hives. Bees immediately swarmed over it to recover the honey there. Below is that comb after 4 days – virtually empty of honey. I’ll leave it another couple of days and then retrieve it for later use.

managing a hot bee hive
‘Recycled’ Comb after 4 days – only few bees left on it mopping up last drops of honey

Where the Relocation Went Wrong

What didn’t work so well was that many of the bees returned to the now empty Layens hive and just hung on around the walls. After two days, I put a couple of empty frames back and put the lid on the hive. Not sure what will happen to these bees but I obviously want to give them a chance.

The bees were mad when we started messing with them. We could clearly see capped brood in some of the frames but were a little intimidated by the huge numbers of bees trying to attack us. We didn’t even try to find the Queen and were not able to look for eggs or fresh/uncapped brood. That’s for another day…..

Vented Bee Suits Saved the Day

The great news was that our new VENTED BEE SUITS ARE FABULOUS – nothing got through except a couple of stings on Stuart’s forehead where he had the hat part of his veil pulled down too low. I did tease him that I had more hair on my head and that gave me quite a bit more protection! He didn’t appreciate my humor!! In the photos below you can clearly see stingers left behind on our suits – stingers that didn’t get through.

What’s next!

The Biggie is that we still have to find the Queen and deal with her! Even when things don’t go smoothly or to plan we are learning all the time. One thing we really want to be is good stewards for our bees. For sure, if our bees are happy and healthy the honey and wax they’ll give us will be of high quality and definitely healthy for us.

Stay tuned – this might be a “never-ending story”!

Caroline xo


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