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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Middlesex County, MA, USA
    Posts
    16

    Default starting early package

    This year I decided to start with 1/2 of the packages at the end of March and the other half mid April. I've started mid-April packages before but never started a package at the end of March

    I have enough drawn foundation to start each pkg on 5-6 frames of drawn and the rest undrawn foundation.

    I plan to feed and provide pollen patties, but are there any other things I need to be aware of starting so early.

    What are the pros and cons and management issues that I may have not thought about with this in eastern Massachusetts?

    Thanks
    PS I won't have hurt feelings if you say this was a stupid idea!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,466

    Default Re: starting early package

    I think it foolish to start packaged bees before natural forage is available. Peter Borst might tell us what happened to all the packages that were installed at Cornell in early April. Then the weather turned horrid with cold and snow. The bees broke down with Chalkbrood and never really recovered.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Walker County, Texas
    Posts
    201

    Default Re: starting early package

    Don't do splits until the honey flow starts.
    Before man took over bees there was nature,it did a better job.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Owen, WI, USA
    Posts
    2,549

    Default Re: starting early package

    For years and years we started 2# packages first week of Wisconsin April, as soon as we could get them. If the weather was cold, which was usually, we kept the packages in a warm environment, installing them quickly while still warm and able to climb the comb quickly. It is important to place the queen in a way to assure she stays in the cluster. It is also important to have enough feed for them to access if the weather stays horrid for a couple more weeks. We necked them down to the smallest entrance reducer.
    There was a year or two when the snow was higher than the tops of the telescopes. We wouldn't have chosen to install in this environment but if the bees came in and there was 2' of snow, they had to be put in. This was on full drawn comb, with frames of honey and pollen. A couple times we filled empty comb with syrup for supplement. Installing between 400-600 every year, we never had more than about 1-2% loss, which was consistent no matter what the weather, and which we attributed to queens.
    I would listen to those local who would know your climate. Here in Wisconsin it is normal to install in very early April. While there is usually a bit of pollen coming in, sometimes the bees can't fly much to take advantage. It can be COLD! We had no chalkbrood problems. Maybe his queens got chilled?
    There is little benefit if the feed necessary and the weather being as it can be doesn't allow much growth, but most years here the earlier in April they are installed the better. There are enough warm days in between the cold to benefit them. Getting that brood going meant early bees for our early nectar flows and ultimately a better honey crop.
    Sheri

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
    Posts
    2,729

    Default Re: starting early package

    I agree with all that Sheri stated. In a panic, the moutaincamp method will work. It is however safer, but not maybe as profitable, to install packages when the dandelions start to bloom. How lucky do ya' feel?

    Roland

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Owen, WI, USA
    Posts
    2,549

    Default Re: starting early package

    Quote Originally Posted by Roland View Post
    How lucky do ya' feel?Roland
    Yeah, that is the right question, isn't it? You can do everything you can think of to prepare but the weather can just work against you. When pushing the envelope you really need to consider the worst case scenario and how much you might lose if that scenario comes about.
    Sheri

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Venango/Crawford Pennsylvania
    Posts
    1,709

    Default Re: starting early package

    In the north I would say no earlier than April 15th. What's up with that date... tax day, studs have to be off cars that day and bees can be beeeegun...lol

    Really though, I only feed them sugar water 1:1 and nothing else. Why you would want to start them in March is beyond me.

    Do ya feel lucky punk...well do ya? lol
    "Where wisdom is called for, force is of little use."
    Herodotus (circa 485-425 BC), Greek Historian

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Venango/Crawford Pennsylvania
    Posts
    1,709

    Default Re: starting early package

    Quote Originally Posted by teebee View Post
    PS I won't have hurt feelings if you say this was a stupid idea!
    It's a stupid idea...lol Hey, you might get lucky. I have known a few that have done that, but sometimes it back fires on them.
    "Where wisdom is called for, force is of little use."
    Herodotus (circa 485-425 BC), Greek Historian

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Middlesex County, MA, USA
    Posts
    16

    Default Re: starting early package

    Quote Originally Posted by Roland View Post
    How lucky do ya' feel?

    Roland
    Willing to take a chance with half my packages. I guess that's why I'm not having them ALL coming this early, but I am trying to think of all the worst case scenarios I can and be as prepared as possible for snow, freezing rain or record cold with attentive feeding and fussing and 4-wheel drive.

    Sheri, Liked the comment about making sure the queen was placed to stay in the cluster. I liked to hope that would have occurred to me, but it might not have. Thanks

    This is what the temps are at the end of March are here. Quite a range is possible!
    average high 52F low 31F
    record high 92F (1998) record low19F (1965)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Grand Rapids, Ohio
    Posts
    854

    Re: starting early package

    I'll tell you why I start them in March. They is those hobbiest that can't get package shipped from the south. So in early May I start shaking packages from my March package bees. By that time I have a lot of bees and make my money back. Avg package sell for $68-$78 + shipping if you are getting them from the south. There is more money in bees then honey, but I do like the price of honey right now too.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
    Posts
    2,729

    Default Re: starting early package

    Sheri - although this is slightly off topic, Was there not a UW Madison Prof that suggested feeding in January to stimulate brood production in overwintered colonies??? The problems associated would be applicable to this discussion.

    Roland

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