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Author Topic: Managing for Spring's Varying Temperatures  (Read 627 times)
PeskySquirrel
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« on: March 11, 2009, 03:00:07 PM »

I'm first year beekeeper with a few questions about managing for highly variable spring temps. As an example: a week ago it was close to 60 degrees here in Wisconsin; today it's 19 degrees. For the rest of March and for a good portion of April, I think I can expect these types of temperature swings.

I haven't cracked open my hive to inspect for brood, eggs, queen, etc. Around here, I think that would be premature. But the bees are still alive and the super of honey I left on for overwintering seems relatively full (at least based on a quick look under the inner cover). Later in the month, or in early April, my hope is to do my first comprehensive inspection, weather cooperating. I know there's debate about whether it's a good idea or not, but I plan to reverse the two brood chambers (assuming the queen is currently laying in the top one). My concern in doing this is cutting off the bees from the super of honey (since the brood will be in the bottom, with a deep between the bees and the honey). My questions are: 1) is this a valid concern?; 2) how frequently do bees need to eat? can they go a few days "away" from the honey?; and 3) at what outside temperature is the cluster "loose" enough that the bees can move relatively freely and thus access the honey above?

I'd love to hear your all's thoughts. Thanks for your time.
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kathyp
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« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2009, 03:05:56 PM »

i have the same problem with  my temps.  if you have a warm day in april, there is no reason not to do a good check.  the sooner you find problems, the sooner you can fix them.  as to your other questions, most would be resolved by not reversing your boxes.  there are a few valid reasons for reversing, but short of those few reasons, it's probably better to leave them alone.  they don't reverse themselves in a tree trunk or barn wall, why should you do it with your supers?
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bassman1977
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« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2009, 03:41:07 PM »

Quote
as to your other questions, most would be resolved by not reversing your boxes.  there are a few valid reasons for reversing, but short of those few reasons, it's probably better to leave them alone.  they don't reverse themselves in a tree trunk or barn wall, why should you do it with your supers?

I agree with all of the above.  Don't bother reversing the boxes.  It is also excess work you don't need.  Regardless of where the queen is currently laying, she'll get around her brood nest just fine without you "helping".
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PeskySquirrel
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« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2009, 03:46:50 PM »

Great. Thanks for the advice. If she'll move down on her own (or with some encouragement from the gals) and use the bottom deep, I'm content to leave the brood chamber as-is. If there's one thing I learned from my first year, it's that the less futzing with the hive, the better.
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2009, 11:30:05 PM »

Sometimes Spring is the time a beekeeper plys his trade from outside observations instead of inside inspections.  A few minutes spent watching the foragers coming and going, noting time between take off's and landings, pollen laden verses nonpollen.  On days it's too cold to do an inspection observation is our only tool.   As I watched my hives today I noted that about 50% of the bees were comings back with pollen the others with clean legs.  The coming and going was about 4 each minute each way and the temps were 49 F and partly sunny.  Race was OWC and Russian, I don't think Italians would have been as active.  Deductions: the hives survived, maybe small clusters, but active at lower temps and finding foraging.  That means the stores on the top arches of the frames should be filling up with pollen and nectar and the brood chamber expanding.  All-in-all things are progressing normally, and I don't see that feeding is necessary as long as the bees can get out and forage a little every day or every other day.  If the weather forecasts predicts a week or longer cold spell I might want to feed a gallon or 2 of syrup but only if the weather turns for the worse.
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