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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Mankato, Minnesota, USA
    Posts
    48

    Default Questions for the pros.

    I am new beekeeper as of this spring and have some questions I'am having a hard time finding answers to. I have four hives all started from 5 frame nucs late this spring located in southern Minnesota. I feed them 1:1 until they had seven of the ten frames in the second deep drawn out. This was over a month ago. At first they work hard on the supers until about two weeks ago progress seemed to slow with much less activity in the supers. I figured this was a dearth but found that hard to believe with all the clover blooming in the ditch. After checking my hives yesterday I found out that thing were not at a standstill. The second deeps were almost completely filled with capped honey. Only a very small portion of the center most frames were being used to raise brood. Another thing I noticed was the honey is very light in color, it looked similar to when i was feeding 1:1 but with a slight tint of yellow.

    My questions are as fallows:

    What conclusions can I draw about the seasonal progression of my bees? Is there focus now storing for winter? If this is the case at what point will they shift focus back to the honey supers? We have another full month or so of weather in the 70s and 80s, is it bad they decreased the size of the brood nest so early?

    Is having light colored honey desirable? What plants are capable of producing the nectar required to make such honey? Tall white clover is blooming now, could this be it?

    Any input would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
    Posts
    3,025

    Default

    Until the pros step in I'll opine . Any honey is great whatever color, and clover is a light-colored honey. The first thing to be sure of is that this isn't stored syrup! It's very easy to do especially when feeding to draw out foundation on a new colony, and it's common for the broodnest of a new beek's fed colony to become syrup-bound. Bees are ALWAYS looking towards the winter. They evolved to store store and store, and they don't really understand that we want the stuff over that upper deep.

    If it is honey, you could scratch it open and see if they'll move it upwards. Or save those deep frames; put in foundation for them to keep drawing and give them back those full deep frames for overwintering on.

    As great as a first-season harvest is, sometimes it's a better choice to let the girls keep their first year's efforts for overwintering. Your goal right now (with fall a couple brood cycles away) should be with an eye towards strong broodrearing. The bees that are being raised now will be the first of the nurse bees for your overwintering bees, and those bees need to be raised by lots of strong nurse bees with good brood food glands. The winter bees need to survive for months with strength to rear spring bees at the end of the race, and how they're fed as larvae is a big part of that equation.

    I'd try to open up that broodnest and get her laying well again. Scratch those stores open and see if they'll move it upstairs, or even better extract some of those deep frames and feed it back come fall.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    OKC, OK USA
    Posts
    2,869

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew C View Post
    Is having light colored honey desirable? What plants are capable of producing the nectar required to make such honey?

    A very subjective question....in my experience, to most consumers light honey is prized however to me the lighter the honey the "milder" the flavor...in other words we prefer darker honey for personal use like alfalfa .
    The lightest honey I ever pulled was Black Locust honey which is rare indeed in Okla.
    Mike Forbes
    Red Dirt Apiaries

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    McGraw,NY,USA
    Posts
    580

    Default

    Andrew Are all four hives doing the same thing ? It may be possible that the hives are in the process of superceding the queens ? Although I am not sure if all four of them would do so at the same time. You said that there was brood in the second super,m is it capped ? Do you find swarm cells located at the bottoms of the frames ? If so dont remove them or you could have them swarm and end up with queenless hives. When hives prepare to swarm they tend to back fill the cells so the queen stops laying. Do you hive supers on the hives ?
    At some point in the season the queen should start focusing on raisng brood for winter as well as storing honey for winter.
    As for the honey depending on how long you fed them sugar water some of it could be sugar water but having a yellowish tint makes me believe that they have found some sumack nectar. If it was basswood it would be lighter in color.
    Also goldenrod is yellow but i dont think there is any in bloom at least not in my part of NY too early.
    Not sure I have answered any of your questions with my questions but I would check for swarm cells and if you dont have supers on put some on ...Rick
    Turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Mankato, Minnesota, USA
    Posts
    48

    Default

    Since I don't have any more large frames to replace some of the honey bound frames I was wondering if I could place a small super with new undrawn foundations between the two brood boxes. This would give them additional room to expand brood without the mess of extracting, feeding back etc. I don't think this would break up the brood nest much considering it is nearly nonexistent in the upper deeps. I would then leave them in this arrangement throughout the winter. I have a feeling if I replaced the frames as you suggested they would just refill them with honey. They seem pretty hell bent on doing that, since all four of my hives are acting in the same manner. I really want to do what’s best for my bees but spending more money on equipment this year is not in the cards. What is my best option?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Mankato, Minnesota, USA
    Posts
    48

    Default

    Yes all four hives are behaving in the same manner. I have not thoroughly inspected the bottom boxes because I in all hives the bees became extremely mad when I started pulling frames from these boxes. However, the frames I did pull seemed to be normal with no queen cells. Should I due a full suit inspection to see what’s going on down there. I am hesitant; I am still enjoying the fact that I haven't been stung yet. Normally very gentile bees can work them in shorts and a T-shirt with no problems.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Crescent City, FL USA
    Posts
    76

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew C View Post
    I am still enjoying the fact that I haven't been stung yet.
    Famous last words of a newbee

    Richard
    6 Hives
    Crescent City, FL

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    OKC, OK USA
    Posts
    2,869

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by akaneo View Post
    Famous last words of a newbee

    Richard
    Mike Forbes
    Red Dirt Apiaries

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Yarmouth co. n.s. Canada
    Posts
    9

    Default

    [QUOTE=Andrew C; I haven't been stung yet. [/QUOTE]
    Does this really happen.
    Mac
    Don't worry Bee happy

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Mankato, Minnesota, USA
    Posts
    48

    Default

    Thanks for the hard time guys. I'm sure I will be stung multiple times when I go investigate the lower deeps today. What should I do to free up room for brood? I really want my hives to survie the winter. Will my plan to add a med super between the deeps work or not?

    Thanks for the help!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Mason, MI, USA
    Posts
    1,015

    Default

    The answer from Ben Brewcat is very sound advice. I would not add a supper between brood boxes as this will split the brood nest and cause much confusion with the bees.
    Clint
    Clinton Bemrose<br />just South of Lansing Michigan<br />Beekeeping since 1964

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    McGraw,NY,USA
    Posts
    580

    Default

    I wouldnt do a frame by frame inspection rather just separate the upper from the lower and slide it backwards an inch or so and tip it up to look at all the bottoms of the top hive frames. Use some smoke and a jacket if ya got one. Also it lets ya see how much brood is there from the bottom of the top hive...Rick
    Turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Mankato, Minnesota, USA
    Posts
    48

    Default

    In the top brood boxes there is very little capped brood (15% of the inner two to three frames), no eggs, some nectar, and the rest of the box is capped honey. Same story in all four hives. I guess my only option at this time is to scrape open thier reserves in the top deep in hopes they will move it up as earlier suggested. Any suggestions on how to do this as I don't have the proper tool for the job. Thank you all for helping me in my time of need. Next year I will be far better prepared for events such as this!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
    Posts
    3,025

    Default

    Without a cappings scratcher table fork, dragged lightly over the cappings, should work.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Mankato, Minnesota, USA
    Posts
    48

    Default

    Thanks. If the sun ever comes out today I will give it a try. How many frames should I scrape? And how much of each frame? How long will it take to move this honey being they only build comb in the honey supers as they need it? Should I be adding more supers as well?

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Fresno California USA
    Posts
    2,479

    Default Bees are smarter than you

    Just leave those bees alone. They know quite well what they are doing.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Mankato, Minnesota, USA
    Posts
    48

    Default

    That was kinda what I was thinking. Scraping open comb seems counter productive. Not to mention angry bees and a mess. Since all four hives are behaving in the same manner I figure they must know what they are doing. Even though it may be a mistake, I will let them do their thing. If they don't survive the winter I will consider it a lesson learned.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Fresno California USA
    Posts
    2,479

    Default Andrew

    Great! Now you're getting smarter!

    From your description your bees are doing very very well.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Heavener Oklahoma
    Posts
    919

    Default super use

    I have seen bees not us the top super very much if you have a cover that is not very thick it gets to hot up in the top if they are in full sun.

    just a thought may not be the problem also I have seen a honey flow so heavy as the brood hatches they place nectar in the cells

    one year check my hives and found no larva or eggs and very little sealed brood

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Mankato, Minnesota, USA
    Posts
    48

    Default

    I do have a thick cover, coated with galvanized steel. The hives are in full sun all day. However, I don't have any ventilation holes in any of my supers. The temperature has been in the mid to upper 80s for some time now. Would you suggest giving them some added ventilation? What is the best way to do this?

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