Spring Management question

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Tyro, Mar 6, 2012.

  1. Tyro

    Tyro Member

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    The weather up here in ND has been incredibly warm. This Saturday is supposed to be over 60F. In fact, the long range forecast has temps over 50F and mild weather for the next two weeks.

    This is not typical. Generally, we have temps below or at freezing through March, topped off by a mid-April or early-May blizzard. Because winter here is so harsh (normally), I generally don't have to checkerboard or really even reverse hive bodies. This is because, by the time I can do an inspection in the spring (typically in mid-April or early May - usually right before the blizzard hits), the clusters are small enough that they fit in a single box. So, I reduce to one deep hive body to give them less space to manage. When they build up, I put the other hive body back on top.

    With an apparent early spring - I am torn between continuing what has become an incredibly conservative managment strategy (designed to ensure that I have at least some bees in the spring) and being more aggressive in order that my bees get a BIG jump on the honey season.

    Now - I am not inclined to start feeding liquid feed yet. If the weather turns on me and becomes more 'normal', that will be a death sentence for my hives. I am going to keep sugar bricks on them as feed.

    But I am starting to think that it might be time to give them pollen patties. I am also trying to decide if I should reduce them now to a single box (the weather Saturday will be plenty warm to do full inspections).

    If I do these two things - how bad will the result be if the good weather doesn't hold and the snow and cold returns?

    thanks for any advice

    Mike
     
  2. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    If it were me, I think that if you have been giving them sugar bricks, I would just slide a pollen patty alongside after your inspection and leave things be. The bees are where they want to be in the hive configuration you have now and have survived to this point, why disrupt it? I realize that the temptation to dive in with the warmth you are experiencing now is hard to fight, but if you normally don't go in until mid April or early May, that's still a long way off and any sudden change could be trouble.
    There may be others who might disagree and feel that reducing the hive may help conserve heat (and they may be right) but for me the bees know best. (besides, them's "Tundra Bees" you got there)
    How's that for a typical beekeeper answer? Probably more confused than ever after that rambling! :lol:
     

  3. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    first I would suggest any approach to a totally abnormal year is fraught with possible error and miscalculation.

    is there existing pollen in the hive?

    here feeding pollen patties with pollen in the hive is fairly limited in it's benefit. I also tend to believe (could be more applicable to here than there) that 1) pollen patties and feeding syrup go hand in hand and 2) once started you just never stop.

    sounds like the 'brick' thing is working for you... why not ply along on this course which then gets you into April. then see how things look and do any course corrections you think necessary and prudent. at that point you still likely have 30 days to boost population via feeding, but not so much time that you have ramped up the adult population too much and too early.
     
  4. 2Tall

    2Tall New Member

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    Next year you might try and add a patty to the top of the brick,works well for me.By the time they eat to the top of the brick spring is near and they can make use of it.I try not to let the patty get too hot ,pack some dry sugar around with a small pour first.
    I would not be in a rush to do things before normal time in your area.
     
  5. Tyro

    Tyro Member

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    2Tall - I read your suggestion about the patty in another thread (mine I think) and have already decided to try it! Thanks again.

    I have pretty much decided NOT to start liquid feeding early. tec's 'fraught with possible error and miscalculation' was a powerful phrase in support of caution! Additionally, a saying that my father had - 'act in haste, repent at leisure' keeps running through my brain.

    I am toying with Perry's idea to just slide the pollen patties in. According to Mel Disselkoen (from his site) - bees utilize the sugar bricks in much the same way that they use liquid feed - so, if true, the sugar should be available to any brood that the pollen patties stimulate.

    I am still trying to decide if reducing them to a single box is wise or not, although I am leaning toward not doing that either. Will reducing them to a single help them to manage what is certainly a small brood nest and make it easier for them to regulate temperature and moisture in the hive - or will it only disrupt them and make it harder to finish the year strong?

    Mike
     
  6. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    most especially if weather is subject to sudden and dramatic change doing nothing does have it's merits.

    it would seem to me the sugar brick and pollen would be about the same as feeding without the possible downside that thin liquid feed might entail. for your location (and basically anyone very far north) this would sound like a good combination. of course water is essential for the bees to utilize the sugar brick, but I would suspect hive respiration produced water would cover you there.
     
  7. Barbarian

    Barbarian New Member

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    Way out of my area but the following experience may be of interest.

    In 2011, my area had a warm early Spring. The bees and the plants were weeks ahead of normal. The colonies expanded, swarming was early and above normal, and the nectar flow good so that supers were filled. The weather then changed to cooler and drier. The nectar flow reduced and the colonies just marked time. We then moved into a "June Gap". The supers emptied and some colonies needed feeding. "June Gap" is a period when the Spring flowers have finished and the Summer flowers have not started. The 2011 June Gap was fierce. My hopes were high after the gap. The colonies were strong, ready to go, the flowering plants had plenty of growth and the ground water table was good. Hopes did not work out. The temps were below normal and although some crop came in, it could have been much, much more.

    It doesn't look like we are in for a repeat this year. The temps are holding down and the beekeepers are trying to be patient. :roll: