I knew everybody was good because they've been flying and bringing in lots & lots of pollen, but went in to see how good and if I had to reverse the hive bodies. "Dowty's Dames," the hive given to me in September, consisted of one brood box and one Illinois super and was very light when I brought it home, so I immediately removed the Apistan strips, used FGMO weather permitting and fed them 2:1 throughout the winter season. Today there were lots of bees in both boxes. 8 of the 10 frames in the Illinois super were full of honey. The brood box was full of honey, pollen & brood. So I added another Illinois super & fed them 1:1 with Honey Bee Healthy, leaving the entrance reducer in place. The second hive, which I call "The Apis Amazons" were brimming over in two brood boxes. I had fed them throughout the winter as well and there was honey and comb everywhere! The top box was so heavy, I couldn't lift it (as an afterthought, it may have been "glued down like hive #3--see below), so I pulled some frames and looked into the bottom box and could see it was full of bees, honey, brood & pollen. Since the boxes are so crowded and I really don't want to split the hive (I don't want four hives!!), I added an Illinois super. Since it looks to me like I've overfed them, I took off the hive top feeder, removed the entrance reducer and left them to redistribute what they already have. The third hive which I call "The Comeback Kids" (they went queenless last year and developed laying workers but went into the fall & winter looking good) was similar to my Amazons--lots of very white honey and they had drawn out last year's new foundation with the most beautiful white wax! They too had burr comb everywhere--the frames of the top brood box were glued to the frames in the bottom brood box! It was only by removing every frame that I was able to remove the top box to look into the lower one which was perfect--full of brood pollen & honey. Since it seemed to me that I probably overfed them as well, I did not put the hive top feeder back on them and removed the entrance reducer. Then I fogged all three hives. I thought feeding them throughout the winter could cause no harm, but what a mess I had to clean up! It took me over two hours to tend to three hives!
My question is: Did I take the right steps to take care of them? Opinions please.
As an aside: I've been fogging my bees every 5 days, weather permitting, since I got them--no cords; no thymol. Several drone larva which were in the burr comb between the boxes were broken during manipulations. Inspection revealed no varroa. Yay!
I don't know what the weather is like there, but apparently it's "spring". Is there a nectar flow? If there is even a light one they will fill up the space in that medium in anywhere from one day to a week. If you think winter is pretty much over and there is nectar around I'd add more supers.
Also if it's that full of honey the queen may need more room to lay. More supers will give them a chance to rearrange things. But you could also break into the brood nest (if the temps are in the upper 60's or 70's) and pull some honey off the sides and add some empty combs in the middle so the queen has room and they don't swarm.
[This message has been edited by Michael Bush (edited February 29, 2004).]
Michael, thanks for the quick response:
"I don't know what the weather is like there, but apparently it's 'spring'". Is there a nectar flow? If there is even a light one they will fill up the space in that medium in anywhere from one day to a week. If you think winter is pretty much over and there is nectar around I'd add more supers.
The nectar flow hasn't really begun--only dandelions and such; from what I understand the nectar flow is 2-3 weeks away. I'm sure the reason they have such large food stores is that I fed them all winter and it's sugar water honey rather than nectar honey. Last year I had to put supers on around mid-March.
"Also if it's that full of honey the queen may need more room to lay. More supers will give them a chance to rearrange things. But you could also break into the brood nest (if the temps are in the upper 60's or 70's) and pull some honey off the sides and add some empty combs in the middle so the queen has room and they don't swarm."
Yes, temps have finally made it to the upper sixties/lower seventies. You've expressed my worry; that the hive will become "honey bound" with nowhere for the queen to lay; that's why I figured I should lay off feeding for the present time and give them another super. I like your idea of pulling honey off the sides & adding empty comb in the middle for the queen, but I have no drawn comb--this wouldn't work with undrawn foundation, would it?
It may be that taking the feed off will lighten up the honey load in the brood chamber or that simply having a super may give them a place to rearrange the stores to make room for the queen to lay.
I hesitate to split a brood chamber on anything but a really strong hive because it makes it harder for the bees to heat etc. but if you put undrawn foundation in the middle of the brood nest of a strong colony they will draw it quite quickly. And the queen will lay it up quit quickly too.
That's good to know. Thanks, Michael.