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Author Topic: How to Help with the Spring Build UP?  (Read 974 times)
Tucker1
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« on: February 18, 2009, 12:16:27 AM »

With most of the snow gone and the weather getting warmer .... I'm getting all froggy about getting the girls ready for spring. In eastern Washington, the local beeks usually pick up and install their package bees during the second week of April.  Looking at the average temperatures for our area, I see that March's ave. is 48 F, April's ave. is 57 F, May's is 65 F and by June the ave temp is 72 F.  Having said all that, what would be the best way to build up the # of bees in my hive, so by May the hive is ready for the pending nectar flow?

The hive is presently made up of 3 deeps, which all have comb from last year. I haven't take the hive apart to see how things look inside, but whenever I take the top off to feed them using plastic bags, the top deep seems to be pretty full. On warmer days, I usually have 3-4 dozen bees buzzing around the hive.

I'd like to do a good inspection of the hive, but with the temperature hoovering around 44 F, I'm very hesitant to even consider it. How warm should it be before I consider doing a good inspection?

The hive is comprised of Carniolans, who have been great. The only times I've gotten stung is when I've done something really really stupid. They seem to be very forgiving. I understand that Carniolans tend to do a good jod in ramping up during early spring.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Regards,
Tucker

 
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BjornBee
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« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2009, 07:38:41 AM »

Tucker,
You need to balance what the hive needs for winter, and allowing them to open up room for the queen to lay in.

By constantly feeding at this time of the year, you may be doing more harm than good. The queen will be limited in comb area as they try to expand.

The other part to this is that with three deeps, if they have too much empty comb, they will potentially fill much comb below in the three deep brood chamber before ever filling above in the supers. (especially in cases where you have foundation above.

If you absolutely need three deeps through winter, I would be using techniques to compress the three deeps down to two in the spring, keep brood production in two deeps, and force the bees to store nectar in thew supers. If you wait for the bees to fill everything below with brood or nectar in a three deep configuration, you might miss some of the flow.

I'd take off the filled third deep once your past the need for it, and nectar and pollen is constant.

My own opinion also is that a filled third deep never touched, with that much comb above, and the bees never actually getting to utilize trapped heat, is a waste and a detriment to the colony as a whole.
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2009, 08:29:22 PM »

Tucker,

As I've stated more times than I can remember (short memory), there is no place within the USA, including Alaska that requires more than 2 deeps to overwinter.  That 3rd deep is just cold air space that is detrimental to the bees, regardless of how much honey it has in it.  Your bees will actually do better reduced down to 2 deeps that have been backfilled in the brood chamber going into winter.  I feed my bees until they start building burr comb as that is a good indication of backfilling having occurred.  Even at that you'll still have some brood space left on several of the frames.  Bees normally cluster in the upper portion of the brood chamber (2nd deep) and pull honey stores from the outer reaches of the hive into the cluster area as weather allows them to break cluster.

I would pull the top super and place place 2-3 full frames of honey on each side of both boxes.  That's 8-12 full frames of honey for the entire hive which is more than what is needed at this time of year.  The remaining 4-6 frames will serve as brood chambers as the weather warms up.  You will have sufficient to allow the bees to build strength as they will already be foraging for pollen and some nectar as willows, hazelnuts, birch, and alder are currently blooming here in Washington.
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Tucker1
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« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2009, 01:27:15 AM »

Both of you indicated that I should take out one of the deeps resulting in a 2 deep hive. I'm assuming I should sort thru the entire hive (all 3 deeps) and remove any empty frames and recompile the remain 2 deeps with frames of honey or brood (if found). Brood frames would be placed towards the center of the top deep and honey frames on the outer perimeter of the top deep and center of the lower of the two deepss.

If I can not find enough frames with honey or brood to fill the 2 deeps, should I place frames with empty comb in the upper deep for the Queen to lay eggs?

(This would bring the hive down to just two deeps with ~ 20 frames.)

Should I do that immediately or wait until May, when the average temperature is in the high 40's?
I don't feel comfortable taking the hive apart in this cooler weather.

Note: In preparation for winter, I wrapped the hive with 1" of black soft rubber foam. The hive is naturally hidden from the wind, by several small pine trees.

The hive is comprized of only 3 deeps and does not include any supers.

I want to make sure I do this right, but I'm not sure I know exactly what you mean.

Thanks in advance for the help.

Regards,
Tucker
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2009, 10:18:19 PM »

One thing to remember when assessing stores for overwintering, bees fill the combs from the top down but use it from the bottom up during cluster periods.  They also tend to cluster at the top of the brood box, so if a 3rd super is used and it never had brood it it the bees will cluster below it.  I have one hive I fed to bring it up to proper winter stores that is like that no cluster above the 2nd medium, the other one had brood in all 3 medium boxes and cluster right under the top.

Both of you indicated that I should take out one of the deeps resulting in a 2 deep hive. I'm assuming I should sort thru the entire hive (all 3 deeps) and remove any empty frames and recompile the remain 2 deeps with frames of honey or brood (if found). Brood frames would be placed towards the center of the top deep and honey frames on the outer perimeter of the top deep and center of the lower of the two deepss.

If I can not find enough frames with honey or brood to fill the 2 deeps, should I place frames with empty comb in the upper deep for the Queen to lay eggs?

Regards,
Tucker

You understood correctly, you want to have at least 1-2 frames of empty comb or par stores part open comb in the bottom super for the queen to begin laying for spring build up.
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Tucker1
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« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2009, 09:24:24 PM »

Thanks for the help. I appreciate it.

It's so nice to see the girls zipping around the hive. Even if they do it for just two or three hours.

Regards,
Rich
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