Monday, July 23, 2012

Summer Dearth and Brood Break

Things are finally settling down around my house… I have been busy, but at a slower pace. Its been nice… I was able to get some hive inspections done yesterday. Its been a while since I could methodically work down a row of hives with nothing but inspections to do. Usually I have to make splits etc so its always something to do other than inspect. In doing so my purpose for this round was to see “where we are” in relation to brood rearing etc… Just as I expected brood rearing is slowing down and in one case (1 out of 21) the hive has completely shut down. This is exactly what I want to see in my operation. Also I have ZERO drones being raised… which is not good for fall supercedures which occur. The reason why they slow down is related to the pollen and nectar flow. As feed comes in, in lesser amounts the queen slows down producing brood. Makes sense, less feed = less brood. This all said, a solid brood break combined with a solid fall flow is fine, however IF we don’t have a solid fall flow the hives can be in danger as they will have reduced in population size and will not have the pollen stores to produce healthy winter bees. Personally I never bet my hives on the fall flow… I spend an estimated $30 per hive per year on feed. Not a whole lot considering what a hive cost. Also with extended forecast showing extended drought and high temps into late October its not looking good for a fall flow, especially when a flow is typically related to ground moisture levels and not overhead rain… in the Midwest there is a good chance they will exceed the “Dust Bowl” drought levels in just a week or so!!! As many of you know I am a firm believer in feeding and practice what I preach when it comes to feeding. I budget for 6-8 lbs of pollen patty per hive per fall at a MINIMUM. I will typically start anywhere from Mid July to the first of August and continue feeding until mid to late September at a rate of one lb (one patty) per week per hive. I want my hives to have ATLEAST 3 rounds of HEALTHY well fed brood reared before winter. This is an industry “rule of thumb” for many and I find it to work well for me. I have used several commercial products and some homemade recipes, but find it’s not worth my time to make my own for my operation. I have used MegaBee, Bee Pro, and Ultra Bee with great success. One concern with feeding patty’s is IF you have high levels of small hive beetles AND the hive doesn’t consume it fast enough, the small hive beetles will reproduce in it… However a hive that doesn’t consume 1lb in 5-7 days “paper and all” is either a small starter hive or something is wrong… Many folks place the patty’s in the incorrect location for fast consumption. NURSE bees are the only ones that consume pollen patty’s and they use it to produce royal/worker jelly. So put it where the nurse bees are… in between the bottom and top brood boxes (between the 2nd and 3rd medium if you use mediums for brood chambers) (NOT on top under the inner cover!!!). Well I hope this finds you all well and enjoy this break in the heat we are having and inspect those hives. Have a good one!