Swarm Prevention – Cut down Splits

If you have looked into your hives in the last few days it is very likely that you have seen signs of swarm preparation - rows of queen cups on the bottom of frames, dense populations, nectar choked hives with little room for the queen to lay in - maybe even swarm cells.

If you have looked into your hives in the last few days it is very likely that you have seen signs of swarm preparation - rows of queen cups on the bottom of frames, dense populations, nectar choked hives with little room for the queen to lay in - maybe even swarm cells.

The Home Stretch – Don’t let them starve!

If you have checked your hives already during the recent spring like weather you may have found as I did that some of your hives are light on stores.  You may also have seen that there is some nectar and a good bit of pollen coming in  from the Maple bloom.

Don’t count on your bees being able to feed themselves on the natural forage which is available if they are light.  They may be able to provide for their needs as long as the weather stays mild, but just a few days of wet or cold weather could result in starvation and colony death because of the amount of brood they have to feed.

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Swarm Management for new Beekeepers

New Beekeepers who are successfully over wintering hives for the first time are likely to see their overwintered colonies build up strongly on the early spring nectar flows.

Unfortunately strong overwintered colonies have a natural tendency to reproduce by swarming.

A new honey bee colony is formed when the queen bee leaves the colony with a large group of worker bees, a process called swarming. In the primeswarm, about 60% of the worker bees leave the original hive location with the old queen.
Swarming (honey bee) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Things to Do with a Queen Excluder – Harvesting Nurse Bees

There are several reasons why you might want to separate the queen or move brood or nurse bees from one hive to another:

  • To strengthen a weak hive
  • To weaken a hive to try to keep it from swarming
  • To make up nucleus hives – either for direct increase or as mating nucs
  • To make a cell builder for queen rearing
  • Making queenless packages of bulk bees

The thing is, when you move a frame covered with bees there is always the chance that the queen is hiding among them – unless you find her first  it’s really hard to be 100% sure.  But finding the queen when you want to is often very time consuming – when you are not looking for her she often comes out and poses for a picture, but when you really want to find her it seems she is having a shy day.

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Beekeeping in Mid November – time for action!

The so called “Mountain Camp method” Dry sugar right on top or the top bars is an easy effective way to help insure that your hives will not starve over the winter – also helps to control hive moisture. Lay damp newspaper right on the top bars leaving space for bees to climb over it. Pour dry sugar on the paper and spread it to 1/2″ thickness more or less then spray it with water to completely wet the surface. Continue adding layers and wetting them until finished. Use a shim or empty super as a spacer for the sugar. If you put a piece of wire mesh – any size large enough for bees to go through 3/8″ and up – under the newspaper then you will easily be able to remove and replace the (hard by then) sugar for early inspections or hive manipulations later.

It’s almost Thanksgiving and right on time the weather has confirmed that winter is arriving soon.

A few reminders and tips for this time of year:

  • You will be able to order package bees at our December 5 meeting.
  • If you have not already installed mouse guards – it’s time. Entrance reducers with 3/8″ slots – 3/8″ wire mesh – smaller mesh such as #8 or window screen wire with some holes enlarged with a pencil – store bought mouse guards. All will work, but it’s time to do it if you haven’t already.
  • If you have solid bottom boards make sure that rain will drain out of hives and not puddle inside.
  • Make sure your roofs don’t leak!
  • A hive strap or heavy rock on top of each hive will ease your mind when you wake up at night and  hear the wind blowing.
  • The time for feeding syrup is pretty much past – if you have hives that are light you need to plan to install feed in the form of Mt. Camp Sugar, candy, sugar bricks or something before your hives actually need it.  Now isn’t too soon.
  • Top ventilation – your hives are likely to perish without it because excessive condensation will drip cold water on your bees. They will be fine with a lot more ventilation than you probably think, but too little will kill them.
  • After Thanksgiving virtually all hives in our area will be broodless until sometime in January when queens will start laying a few eggs again to start the next season. This broodless period is a good time to treat hives for varroa mites – any treatment is most effective on a broodless hive – and usually there are a few nice days in December when you can get out and do it. If you plan to take advantage of this then you must have treatment materials on hand when the opportunity occurs.

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My Favorite way to Split

This article is similar to a forum thread that I started on BeeSource

Splitting always comes up a a lot this time of year and like all things bee keeping everyone has their opinion – hopefully most of them are based on actual experience, and even trying different things. Making increase is one of my favorite parts of bee keeping, and I have tried a lot of different ways – I love to see things grow.

I have all 8 frame mediums – a single box hive is about equivalent to a 5 frame deep, and in our area will winter just fine (with sugar on top) and build up to a productive hive in the spring if all goes well. My opinion is that I would rather go into winter with two such small (but strong) hives than one big hive of any size – simply because you are twice as likely to have live bees in the spring. Also, remember that hives can (and often should)  be combined in either fall or spring if it seems like a good idea at the time.

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February 2013 Bee Keeping Update

Package Bee Orders – If you have not already ordered bees or paid in full for the bees that you have reserved  Please send a Check ($85/order total)  to the following address – you can still order package bees.  Make checks payable to Cookeville Bee Keepers and mail to:

  • Cookeville Bee Keepers
  • 453 E. Whitehall rd.
  • Cookeville TN
  • 38501

I will be finalizing our order soon and any orders which are not paid in full will not be placed.

From the TBA – I represented our club at  the Tennessee Bee Keepers Association Executive meeting yesterday, and I made a few notes of things that I thought you might find interesting:

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