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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    East Hardwick, VT USA
    Posts
    22

    Post

    The weather finally cooperated in NE Vermont and I was able to break into my hives for the first time this spring, so I thought I would pass on some observations and maybe ask a question or two. I wintered my 7 colonies in 2 and 3 deeps with no wrapping or insulation. The bees started bringing in pollen yesterday for the first time this spring, after a brutally cold winter (several days never got above 0F and we got as low as -34F).

    I brought 7 colonies into the winter and came out with 6. I'm pretty sure the dead out was due to mites, as I saw plenty of them. One thing that blew me away was the amount of honey stores left over. One hive that I wintered in three deeps had a full deep box of honey untouched, and all the others had between 4 and 9 deep frames of uncapped honey. I figure this must be due to the extraordinarily cold winter and the bees being less active. They actually went over three months without a cleansing flight.

    I saw capped and open brood in all 6 colonies but the brood nest was small and the brood pattern was somewhat irregular. I guess my only question would be what does the brood nest typically look like right after winter when the bees first start foraging?

    Only other observation was the bees seemed a tad angrier than when I last inspected last fall. Overall though, I'm very pleased with the way they came through the winter.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,427

    Post

    >I brought 7 colonies into the winter and came out with 6. I'm pretty sure the dead out was due to mites, as I saw plenty of them. One thing that blew me away was the amount of honey stores left over. One hive that I wintered in three deeps had a full deep box of honey untouched, and all the others had between 4 and 9 deep frames of uncapped honey. I figure this must be due to the extraordinarily cold winter and the bees being less active. They actually went over three months without a cleansing flight.

    How much stores they use is related to weather but also the timing of the weather. If they start rearing brood early they use a lot of stores quickly. Once they've started rearing they use more stores to feed the brood and to keep them warm when a cold snap hits. When I've lost hives to mites there are usually lots of stores lefte becuse there weren't enough bees to eat much.


    >I saw capped and open brood in all 6 colonies but the brood nest was small and the brood pattern was somewhat irregular. I guess my only question would be what does the brood nest typically look like right after winter when the bees first start foraging?

    Hard to say. Usually an irregular pattern is a sign of a failing queen. Sometimes it's not that she can't lay, but that she doesn't make enough pheromones to keep order and they start storing pollen and honey in an irregular pattern which leaves her laying in between in an irregular pattern. You could wait a little while and see what the bees do, but I'll bet they will supercedure soon.

    >Only other observation was the bees seemed a tad angrier than when I last inspected last fall.

    Another sign they will supercedure soon. If they don't settle down and get quiet and if the queen doesn't start laying a regular pattern, I'd requeen.

    >Overall though, I'm very pleased with the way they came through the winter.

    You should be. Many of us lost all or most of our bees to the mites.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    brown county,indiana,usa
    Posts
    571

    Post

    their tempermental behavior could be due to temperature,some of my hives are cranky about those cool drafts getting in the hive when you open it up.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Round Top, New York - Northern Catskill Mtns.
    Posts
    1,895

    Post

    I have seen the same patterns in some of my NWC hives this spring. What type of bees are yours?
    Like your hives they have just within the last week or so been able to start flying.
    My thinking is that due to the long cold spring, pollen stores avalible for brood rearing has been limited. Also, some types of bees seem to hold back until conditions are right. Once they have had a chance to bring pollen and nectar in, the queen's laying should take off. Check them again in about two weeks.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    East Hardwick, VT USA
    Posts
    22

    Post

    My bees are all Vermont bred mutts. I had one hive headed by a russian queen, but that was the one that succumbed over the winter.

    I agree, I'll wait until they really start bringing it in before making the call on my queens. It's *very* early in the season yet. Temps were back down in the teens this morning.

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