Midnite Bee-Beekeeper's: Article August 1999 ARTICLES Proper Use of the Imirie Shim
Proper Use of the Imirie Shim

Ever since my shim was endorsed and put on the commercial market, many users have contacted me by phone, E-mail, or letter asking me for advice about some proble with their beekeeping; and they use their purchase of the shim as a "justification" for contacting me. Let me say LOUD AND PUBLICLY that no one needs any justification to me for help with their bee problems provided that they are indeed attempting to UPGR their knowledge, and not to argue the merits of the BEST bee, annual or biennial request or the use of Terramycin.

However, I have found that many of these inquirers are using the shim for some purpose that has little to do with its intended purpose and hence my reason for its us and then I am chastised or insulted that the shim "does not*work" or it "makes new problems".

The ONLY purpose for the shim is to relieve brood chamber congestion by providing ingress and egress to the ' SUPER AREA and the shim should only be on a co when supers are in place! It should NOT BE USED in the BROOD AREA! It should NOT BE USED as an upper entrance in the fall or winter. It should not be.used between super of FOUNDATION (which is far different from DRAWN COMB). The shim should never be in contact with a queen excluder!

The proper use of a shim is as follows: Use with supers of DRAWN COMB only. Put 2 supers over the queen excluder, then add a shim, add a 3rd and a 4th super, the add another shim,. add a 5th super, install the inner cover that has an upper entrance made into the edge of it, and top this off with the telescoping cover and a brick..

The shim is 3/4" inch high, and hence its placement is defying the "rules" of BEE SPACE, and bees will build BURR comb on top of frames if the shim is used IMPROPER particularly if it is used in the brood area. If the shim is placed between supers of FOUNDATION, the bees (having no construction blueprints) will build burr comb within the 3/4" inch space of the shim, and "weld" the upper super to the lower super with burr comb as they draw foundation.

Lastly, and this should be very instructional for some readers: If you are using DRAWN COMB in your supers, but you are still getting burr comb built in the shim space, the bees are really trying hard to tell you something, and that is: WE NEED MORE SUPER SPACE! It is hard work, time consuming, and requires a lot of nectar EATING bees to build comb; and, hence, if your bees have plenty of drawn comb super space f them to temporarily unload lots of nectar for storage until they can ripen it into the honey, the bees will not trouble themselves to build burr comb in the shim area between supers of empty drawn comb!

I have been using my shim for 30-40 years on all my colonies supered for extra honey production with little or no burr comb construction; and it materially helps in two things I designed it to do: Aid in swarm prevention because it relieves brood chamber congestion from forager bees, and increases honey production because foraging bees can enter and leave the colony via the shim entrances directed into the super area faster than using the bottomboard entrance.

Install shims when supers are installed, and remove shims when supers are harvested.

Queen Introduction Problems

It is quite apparent from the questions seen on E-mail and the questions asked at bee association meetings that many Beekeepers need an understanding of favorable or unfavorable conditions when trying to requeen a colony.

Two PRIME problems quickly come to mind:

1) YOUNG bees, just a few days old accept a new queen quite readily, whereas an OLD foraging age bee of 3-4 weeks of age doesn't care very much for this new STEPMOTHER. Hence, it is ALWAYS better to introduce a new queen among young bees in a nuc, get her accepted and laying, and then unite that small nuc with the larger QUEEN LESS colony. The important KEY here is YOUNG bees accept a new queen much better than OLD bees!

2) If there is just a small nectar flow on, or worse, a dearth of nectar, the bees are "mad at the world" and don't want the aggravation of "getting to know" a new STEPMOTHER. 1:1 sugar syrup is an artificial nectar and it should always be fed during any queen introduction procedure. This statement surely sound ANTHROPOMORPHIC, but it helps your thinking, I use it. A source of food makes the bees "happy", and being "happy" makes queen introduction much more successful. All of my followers know that I much prefer FALL REQUEENING over "screwing-up" my early spring honey crop by trying to requeen in the spring. Further, fall bred queens are usually better mated because of more drones available; and the queen introduced in September is "rearing" to go laying lots of early spring eggs and she has not used up much of her queen PHEROMONE, that "glue" that holds a large population of adult worker bees together as a functioning unit rather than dividing by swarming.

Robbing and Being MAD go together!

Back in those "pre-historic" days of 1933 when I started beekeeping, most bees were on farm properties and tended by the farmers of that day. Hence, who was really bothered or even knew about MAD, STINGING BEES when they were under 1-2 acres of orchard trees on a 200 acre farm? Just "another one of those CHANGING TIMES" that I often have to talk about to our primarily URBAN society of today. So that you and I "are on the same page", I am NOT referring to harvesting your honey crop as "robbing". I am referring to foraging bees, upon finding no nectar in the field. but detecting the strong odor of lots of nectar or honey in a neighboring colony, fights with the colonies guard bees and even kills the colony residents in order to STEAL those "golden goodies" and take this sweet liquid to her colony.

For many diverse reasons, often a hobbyist beekeeper has colonies of totally different population strength almost side by side in the same apiary. The very genetic nature of the worker bee dictates that she collects honey ANY place she can find it and bring it home to provide winter stores for her colony. She does not recognize privacy or "stealing" something that has been gathered and kept by others as "wrong", but rather she is genetically trained to TAKE what ever she can get for the good of her colony, and if TAKING causes a fight with the bees of another colony, then she is going to FIGHT, KILL or BE KILLED in the struggle to gain that property.

Surely, it does not require rocket science knowledge to understand that it is fairly easy for a large established colony of perhaps 30,000 bees to overwhelm and kill a new colony of perhaps only 10,000 bees, "robbing out" all the nectar and honey stored in the small colony and storing it away in the big colony.

Like so many other mistakes, generally robbing is caused by the BEEKEEPER who does something STUPID, like leaving honey exposed to all the bees in the neighborhood, setting a frame on the ground and letting it drip honey in the grass, feeding sugar syrup improperly so it leaks and runs outside the hive, or using damaged hive bodies so that there are cracks between bodies large enough to allow bee entry and hence the guard bees have too any places to defend.

Being simplistic, when there is a natural dearth of honey (like July and August in Maryland), the beekeeper meticulously cleans up any spills of honey, and certainly never leaves a super or brood body OPEN where it can be easily entered by any number of bees from any place in the neighborhood. You just be a GOOD HOUSEKEEPER, and quickly clean up anything out of place that even smells like honey. Once you have witnessed a bad robbing foray, you will never forget it. NOR WILL YOUR NEIGHBORS. NOR WILL THE POLICE. NOR WILL THE ZONING BOARD. NOR WILL THE LAWYERS.

I don't think that these things are exactly "your cup of tea".