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!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Few Summer Thoughts

So its been a long while since I posted anything bee related. Been far too busy with both bees and moving into a new house to discuss much… But so far this has been one of the best seasons I can remember even before I had bees. So far there seems to still be a little nectar coming in from clover and misc wild flowers so that’s good as usually our flow has pretty much stopped by mid june. I am going to be extracting honey this weekend and hope to have plenty to sale, but we shall see… Most of my thoughts recently have been around building hives up and how to control late season swarming as I plan to overwinter mostly single deep and double medium hives. I also want to max out my equipment and basically go into winter with nothing in storage. So we shall see how this goes. For those of you who may have been wondering, this year I don’t plan to start pollen patty feeding until the first of August and stop about mid September, in years past I have fed until they stop taking it, but have found the hives to be slightly larger than I would want and harder to keep food in front of them, however in singles I will have to feed anyway and they should minimize their population much like fish grow to their tank size, I see this in my overwintering nucs… they grow to the size they need in the space they have… Also i have a few new breeders I am going to be grafting from this year as well for fall queens, several have 4-6 honey supers on them at the moment so working them is not easy so I have not grafted from them yet… However, I have been grafting from others and now have 2 new Inseminated breeders from Glen Apiaries to try which are a pure Carni and the new Pol-Line from the USDA. The Pol-Line may be more Italian than I want, but breeding with my Carnis and other mutts I have should provide a good continual mix of both wintering ability and honey production as well as gentleness. So I hope it works out.. only time will tell. The other things I havnt discussed is next years nuc plans, Nuc sales were great this year and I could have sold more, but the one thing I learned was I sold too many different types, 4 types in total. In 2013 I will sell only 1 type and that will be spring made deep 5 frame nucs. What happened was with 4 types it turned into a management issue and was a royal pain for me to manage. I know this may disappoint some as I will not be selling medium nucs, but time may change that who knows. What I may do with those is increase the price and include a bottom board, wooden 10 frame box, and additional 2 foundation frames. This way I can still sell medium nucs to those few that want them. So I hope all is well and remember you need to be preparing NOW for any fall treatments or feeding that you may need.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Any thoughts?

I know its been a while since i posted something bee related... been so busy with a new house (closing today), selling nucs, and recently severe arm pain... Here is one image from my MRI i think is odd and might be the problem... see that shaded area on my spinal cord?
Any thoughts?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Monday, February 13, 2012

Better Weather Ahead?

So we have finally gotten some cold weather, actually we even got some snow! I went east this weekend to my parents house in New Kent and noticed the maples seem to be about a week ahead of my house in Buckingham… Not unusual, they seem to be a week ahead of me anyway with the blooms…

Looking forward I noticed the temps are pretty stable around 30’s at night and 50’s in the day over the next 2 weeks. That’s not bad, especially when you look at the average temperature being 42 deg over that 2 week period and the fact that bees are at their most efficient between about 40-45 deg F. So that means (or should mean) that my bees should stay pretty efficient during the majority of the 24 hours , but have the ability when temps reach near or above 50 for those few hours in the day to move around and shift food around as needed…

Of course this all assumes the bees don’t have too much brood and freeze themselves to death trying to keep the brood warm…

So in the end, things seem on track this year, maple bloom around mid February, mild near seasonal temps, and hives so far still living…

Could things change? Yes, of course its mother nature and VA Feb/March anything is possible. But IMO if we get through the end of Feb with mild/good temps and I keep an eye on the feed in the hives everything should be just fine.

I have already placed pollen patties on the hives to help feed brood and most still have (or did have) fondant on them. Honestly they could use another 5 lb round of fondant, but instead of ordering that I believe I am going to open feed with buckets using a new method a friend of mine in Mass. shared with me. OPEN FEEDING VIDEO
Many folks are against open feeding, for good reasons. For example, fighting can occur, drowning, transfer of disease (another argument sometime), and could start robbing.

I have open fed before but not to my satisfaction due to high levels (maybe not that high) of dead bees. But this is all putting a “float” in an open bucket… I also was over crowding the feeding space. Allen Dick in Alberta once told me 10 hives per 55 gallon drum, what your looking for is the feeding area. So I figured it up to be 2.5 hives per 5 gallon bucket… I like the idea and it would mimic the foraging for nectar just fine. But I would need 24 buckets to feed my 60 hives… Maybe it would be easier to feed individually? Maybe not? I haven’t decided yet…

So anyway, keep checking those hives and feeding them if needed, in my case I am feeding to stimulate growth, health, as well as keep them alive just in case they run out. Remember Late Feb and March is when most beehives starve!!!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Early Spring or Winter NEVER-land?

Early Spring or Winter NEVER-land?

So as many folks on the east coast can attest to we have had a VERY mild winter thus far… Based on my count the maples have bloomed now 3 times since November alone and I now see the elms budding slightly.
The hives seem to be very healthy. I have been keeping fondant on them since they are using a lot of stores during this warm but nectar-less time. However, they have slowed greatly, but I anticipate brood rearing will really get going now since this week will be in the 60’s all week and pollen is coming in.

I will continue to feed fondant as needed since as they hatch more and more brood they will consume more and more honey… after all most starvation cases occur during the months of February and March…
I have heard a number of folks report “healthy” looking hives with great populations. I am glad folks are actually looking and not assuming, many of those same folks are also watchful of light hives and have mentioned they will feed fondant if needed.

On Saturday I watched a number of hives flying strong collecting water and maple pollen, although it seemed more were carrying water than pollen…
I have yet to break apart frames, I normally don’t do this until mid feb on warm days, but it’s been so warm I could have.
So what are you seeing?

Email me at “DougLadd at gmail dot com”