Re: Spring is coming
Hi Matt, thanks for the pm.
Before your other questions, have you heard of the Auckland beekeepers Club? It can be googled and will be a good source of local knowledge for you. Secondly, the two hives with AFB, who identified the AFB and do you know where your bees got it from? As to where I live, I'm on the North Shore and my bees are around that area.
The answer to some of your questions depends just where your bees are, if they are in an urban area they will get a lot more nectar and be fairly active all winter, if they are out of town they will be dependant on whatever flowering plants are within their range but will likely not do as well as they would in town.
To your questions
Q1 there is no best time in terms of date, you add room when the bees are ready for it. Once the box is full of bees, ie, bees on outside of outside combs and working them, you can add another box.
Q2 just adding more boxes, on it's own, is not always enough to prevent swarming. Spreading brood also helps, read up on "checkerboarding". However if your hive currently only has 3 or 4 frames of brood there is a while to go before they'll think about swarming. If they do well they will build up in time to possibly swarm around end of September, so if you add another box, spread the brood also to keep the queen busy.
Q3 I don't know.
Q4 bees will draw comb if there is nectar coming in, and they have enough bees. If either of those are absent, they will not draw comb, or hardly any.
Q5 A shallow of honey will not guarantee the queen will not lay eggs above it. A shallow of honey also weighs a whole lot more and is harder to lift than an excluder. However plastic excluders are restrictive to the bees, they will do better with a wire one. Wether or not to use an excluder is simply a management choice. It is thought that allowing the queen unrestricted access to the whole hive can reduce swarming. But this is dependant on many other factors and while sometimes true, is not always true. The main reason for using an excluder, in NZ conditions, is simply to keep your honey combs from going black and tainting the honey, and to ensure you cannot accidentally remove the queen when harvesting a box of honey.
EDIT - I've just been thinking about your Q3, some swarms won't fit into a nuc so you'd probably need to go with a full box. For that matter, some swarms won't even fit into one full box, but that's just a very few big ones.
Last edited by Oldtimer; 07-30-2011 at 12:03 AM.
Reason: more info
44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).