Glad you are doing better. Thank you for the feedback. We can easily have temperatures reaching 50s on some of our November days. I am also curious about what I can do with checkerboarding in late fall/early winter if temps are right. I guess it's possible that the bees could try to rearange the honey if it's done to early.
My other question is on the other side of the spectrum- How late in the build-up timeline can checkerboarding be done and still be affective?
Havn't done it in the fall and declline to speculate. Had one case that surprised me. When CBing, one colony had a medium at the top with capped honey all the way across, except for two empty frames on one side. Didn't have a med of empty comb on the truck. Got back about two weeks later with a medium of empty comb and found them making an end run around their capped honey by way of the 2 empty outside frames.
Often, when the box above the broodnest is only partially filled, they have left their honey barrier perforated and don't need CB. Any open-celled honey is generally moved to the brood nest or consumed in the fall. Generally, the colony is very reluctant to open capped honey except in a dire emergency. In build up,its part of the format.
As for how late to be effective: It needs to be done before they start backfilling the broodnest. The first step of swarm preps. Can't provide a calandar date for areas where am not familiar field forage patterns.
Walt, how early does backfilling start in your area?
Typically mid to late March, but we did have one mild late winter where the vegetation and the bees were more than two weeks ahead of schedule.
I am planning to overwinter some of my hives in four mediums. I am wondering about the idea of checker boarding two boxes on top and one on the bottom when the time comes. Do you think that doing one box CB on the bottom could be of benefit? Any thoughts or experience with this?
>Do you think that doing one box CB on the bottom could be of benefit?
No. I think it's the overhead honey that gives them the impression they shouldn't swarm because they may not have enough stores.
Check. Thenks MB.
I got back into beekeeping March of 2009 after a logging accident.
When I kept bees back in the late 70s mid 80s [Midnites], late winter [mid February][what we actually call early spring here], I would reverse brood boxes, by scraping the sealed honey in the top box, then moving the box below. Hence no honey above the brood nest. All my queens [70s-80s] were marked and I requeened every fall with new Midnite queens [which was probably not a good idea]. I never had a swarm problem and can only remember 1, in 7-8 years of beekeeping, in which I ran 12 to 15 colonies.
I had both medium and deep brood boxes during 2010 [have now converted to all mediums], consequently I experimented by reversing brood boxes where I had a deep and medium on a colony for brood and checkerboarded, where I had all medium brood boxes [which was about equal]. I did this swarm prevention mid february. I only had 1 colony that did not swarm. Very frustrating.
But in hindsight, let me say this, at the time I wasn't worried about swarming as swarming had never been a problem for me before. So I did the recommended management procedures, and didn't worry about swarming. After I get everything set in a colony, I try not to disrupt the broodnest. I would only occassionally pull frames from the middle of the brood area until I find eggs and/or young grubs, and then close it up with as little disturbance as possible. This was probably my mistake as I had horrific swarming problems. This year I would often go through the whole brood nest looking for swarm cells; although I don't like doing this because of the greater chance of accidently killing the queen.
I attribute the swarming primarily as a carniolian/russian breed character problem. I have gone now to primary yellow queens and have had no swarm problems this year, both reversing brood boxes and checkerboarding. That being said, we are in a severe drought which I am sure makes a difference.
My queens are now primarily yellow colored survivor queens, Minn. Hyg., and yellow colored VSH queens. I might try some of the dark Caucasions, but otherwise I don't want the darker carniolian and/or russian type queens.
"I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." Nathan Hale, 1776
>so I am wondering what it would do if I CB one of the three underneath?
In my climate it would get left behind and not get consumed and would contribute nothing as far as swarm prevention and as far as winter stores. Overhead, on the other hand would get consumed and contribute to swarm prevention. Assuming they don't starve, IMO it would do nothing. If you are considering that as part of their winter stores, they may starve in a very cold climate. In a more moderate climate it probably wouldn't matter at all as they could move to get to it.
Is there a good, easy way (if there is an easy way) to figure out what the swarm reproductive cutoff approximate date is for my area by just hive observations as a reference, without using the plant bloom schedule, in case it's a little different in my area?
There isn't any in-hive indication of repro c/o approaching. But there are several delayed indications that mean it's passed. One is: the colony starts consumption of the overhead capped honey reserve. 2nd is that second year colonies start supersedure cells. A 3rd is that broodnest reduction starts (backfilling.) These indications may start promptly, but it is a week or two before they are obvious on inspection.
One that is prominent and prompt is the appearence of new wax. The new wax only lasts for a few days and is the result of wax makers purging their holdings - developed to support a swarm. When swarm ambition is canceled, those wax makers have an imminent job change. I suspect that the temporary wax purging gave rise to literature derivation of the term "early flow." After the three week lull new wax makers are available on a sustained basis for the "main flow."
Note that the lull in overhead storage of nectar, itself is a prominent indication that c/o has passed. If you have been successful in getting the colony started in overhead nectar storage, and field nectar is still available, but nectar accumulation in the supers slows to a stop, you are in the lull past repro c/o. This is only relevant to established colonies. 2nd year colonies will often store through the lull.
I suggest you burn 10 bucks and order a manuscript. This stuff is explained in some detail. W. W, Box 10, Elkton, TN, 38455.
Good info. Thank you so much, Walt.
There is a lot of garbage out there that costs $10 or more. The manuscript is easily worth the price and has significant value if followed.
Walt should open a thread in the For Sale Forum listing the manuscript. In the past many have had difficulty finding out how to obtain a copy.
Merry Christmas to all -- Fuzzy
I bought the manuscript. It is some of the best bee knowledge for the money you can buy. Walt has made detailed observations on the sequence of events that leads up to a swarm.
I suspect this is the aforementioned "white wax" The picture was taken on March 4 2011. The hive was strong having over wintered in 2 8 frame medium boxes with "mountain camp" sugar on top. I also started feeding pollen sub in the form of candy about the middle of January.
This hive did later swarm - despite having been weakened by removing frames of bees/brood from it, and opening the brood area with foundationless frames.
As you can see, they built the comb - drone sized - up from the frames into the feed shim. I didn't have any extra comb at the time - and even though I knew that swarming was likely I really had no idea what else I could do . Simply adding a super of foundation is somewhat complicated by this method of feeding.
I am trying to get my hives geared up for effective checker-boarding for the future seasons. I am looking around for shallow size plastic foundation. Do you use plastic foundation for your shallows? If yes, could you share where I could buy some?