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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Robesonia, Pa., USofA
    Posts
    439

    Default Colony update here in Pa

    This has been one of the strangest Winters in quite awhile.
    We've had temps in the low 50's numerous times so far and the bees have been bringing in a pale yellow pollen.

    Was checking out the three colonies my friend has and saw that one of the "stronger" colonies has finally died.
    There were many dead bees on the comb and looks like they either starved or froze to death in place.
    Recently he and I were doing an inspection on a warm day and we saw a few hundred bees and the queen in that hive along with plenty of honey stores left. Didn't look good at that point.

    What was the "weakest" colony going into Winter is now booming! Still trying to figure that one out.
    It has two deeps and a medium with lots of honey and they had eaten most of the sugar we placed on the inner cover.
    Btw, that sugar did a great job absorbing moisture.

    Earlier this Winter we removed a medium super from it that didn't have much honey stores.
    But after seeing how full the hive is, I pulled a medium super full of honey off the dead hive and placed it on the "weak" hive.
    Now they'll have a little more elbow room and more stores to chew on.

    The third colony is still alive but the population is down. Not sure if that one will make it till Spring.
    He is planning to split the "weak" hive at least once and maybe twice if things continue looking good.

    Allen

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Robesonia, Pa., USofA
    Posts
    439

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    It was in the 70's today so we decided to go into the remaining two hives.
    Winds and dark clouds started rolling through the area and we didn't go too far.

    We added a medium honey super to the colony that is booming for a total of 5 supers. Within seconds of adding it they were up in it already.
    Supposed to be in the 70's again next week so we're planning to go down into the brood chamber to see how things are doing.
    Thought I had read that bees were supposed to be reduced in population this time of year but this one already looks like the other two colonies did at the end of Summer.

    Also thought they would be getting low on honey stores but there appears to be an excess of honey.
    A local beekeeper is advising us that we can do splits between the dates of 4/15 to 6/1 in our area.

    Should we be concerned with swarming earlier than that?
    These bees are bringing in a lot of pollen too.

    How many splits can you make from the same colony in the Spring?

    thanks,
    Allen

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Lebanon.PA
    Posts
    137

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    Normal swarm season around here starts in May. Will probably start early this year if the warm weather continues. Watch for drones. I'm looking for everything to be two weeks early. Only my opinion but I'm planning on being early rather than late. Depends on the weather of course. An extended cold snap could change everything. They've been brooding all winter I believe as I've got larger than normal cluster's.

    How many splits can you make from the same colony in the Spring?
    Depends on how large a colony you have, what your goal's are ,available drawn comb and your management style. There is really no straight forward answer to that. To build each to a double deep I would say four split's of five comb's and a queen cell could easily build back to a double deep by fall with good flows. Poor flow + syrup same deal.

    My Bee's were working silver Maple today. Could be the pollen you saw coming in.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Robesonia, Pa., USofA
    Posts
    439

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    Thanks Dragonfly130.
    What we saw was one giant cluster with two of the top supers (10 frame) having the majority of frames covered in bees.
    Even saw a few cells with reddish pollen which looked like red food coloring.
    A few days earlier there was lots of activity at the entrance but yesterday with that wind picking up there was hardly anything.

    While looking through the dead hive we saw dead bees positioned head first into a number of cells.
    They went into Winter with a good population. I wonder if mites could have caused their numbers to dwindle and then not leave enough bees left to stay warm.

    Supposed to be another real warm day next week so we're going to try an inspection then.
    Will take some photos.
    Allen

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Slippery Rock PA
    Posts
    40

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    Allen,

    I'm from the other side of the state but our winter has been about the same. I went into winter with four hives, two that were decent with plenty of stores, one that has been exceptional, and one not so much. I had one hive that never really amounted to much that started from a package. I found those ones dead a week ago, I didn't really expect them to make it. I have two that seem to be okay, they are still alive with plenty of weight in the hive and a decent amount of bees, I put some sugar on the top a few weeks ago just to see if they would take it and because I'm new at this, I get a little nervous. The good hive, which is from a swarm I collected in June from a colony in a house wall that has been there for ten years, is doing great and their numbers are way higher than what I expected. I'm hoping for another swarm from that original colony in the house this spring and then the homeowners want me to try and remove it. I wish I could just leave it there and keep catching the swarms from it.

    Two hives have been bringing in pollen, from maples I'm guessing, since February 22nd and one just started, I'm interested to see what the good weather next week brings. I'm going to try and split my strongest hive into four around mid may unless I need to do it sooner. The other ones I'm waiting to see how they take off. I'm interested in hearing your results and looking forward to what you decide to do.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Lancaster County, Pa, USA
    Posts
    48

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    Same thing here. After a very rough fall with all the flooding and the hive floating in the water. It was quite a learning curve. I've been able to pop the top many times this year to check stores (alot of 2:1 feeding in the fall and hoping for the best). They have been very active recently. During my last quick look last week it appeared the population doubled and they have taken about half the sugar I placed on the top bars. Hoping to rotate the hive bodies next week and start light feeding but, knowing Pa weather and the way this winter has gone we'll get a foot of snow in April.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Franklin Co, PA, USA
    Posts
    170

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    Ours are busy - some skunk cabbage and other pollen sources available. I started sugar water feeding (under the top cover) 2 weeks ago and most of the hives have taken a couple quarts. Even our nucs have survived this far. Last year we saw swarming about third week of May if that helps. I'll probably go through boxes on Sunday if the warm weather arrives as predicted and add supers or at least reverse boxes on the stronger hives. Great to be seeing warm weather and pollen. Next thing you know we'll have dandelions. Good luck.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    SNOW SHOE PA USA
    Posts
    1,268

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    This is my seconed year as a beekeeper and am happy to say my 3 hives all are doing well and i even seen the queen in one i was adding honey frames to i was pretty happy it was my first time ever finding a queen.
    She was easy to see thats for sure she was bright and alittle longer then the workers i'm so happy.
    My first year i failed by jan.{2 hives}
    I put some BEEPRO out dry and they are taking that in big time and i'm going to put some suryp out this coming week can't wait. I don't think any thing is out yet here. I have sugar on the top of the frames and there taking it plus they still have honey one is light. My garlic is like 3in high thats early up here i hope we have a good year .

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Downingtown, PA
    Posts
    247

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    I got into my 2 hives on thursday when it was about 70 degrees out. Both were started from packages last spring. I had put candy boards on both in the fall for insurance. Both hives had eaten most all of the candy and drew comb from the top of the candy board down and attached to the frames below. When I lifted the board off, I tore the comb, which was stuffed full of early nectar. I pulled some dry comb from below, replaced with foundationless frames and did my best at checkerboarding the hives. I found it interesting that one of the hives was festooning within a couple minutes on the new frame. With all the warm weather coming this next week and the maples kicking in, I wonder if they'll draw any comb into the new foundationless frames.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Tyrone, Pennsylvania,USA
    Posts
    353

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    Hey there fellow Pa beeks,It's nice to see so many on here.Glock you are only a stones throw away from me,you should be seeing silver maples blooming soon they are in full bloom here and willows are on the way.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Robesonia, Pa., USofA
    Posts
    439

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    Awesome to hear from some other Pa beekeepers!

    That flood from Tropical Storm Lee was awful.
    Our creek jumped the banks and two feet of water was flowing against my Smithy.

    I live next door to where I grew up and the last time I saw so much water was when Hurricane Agnes hit here (twice).
    Would have hated to see hives in those floodwaters.

    I've read that feeding syrup to an established hive in Spring may cause them to think about swarming.
    Is that a concern?
    We have dry suger on top of the inner cover which is slightly moistened from the moisture in the hive.
    With all the capped honey that is left they are still chewing on the sugar.

    The colony which has the big population was like that since December.
    Weather is looking good for the next two weeks. Going to be in the 60's most days.

    Am going to be placing an order for foundationless frames soon. I've got a package of bees coming to Keeney and Ziegler early next month and three nucs in May.

    Pahunter: did you just start with foundationless frames? I'd like to know how that works for you.

    Oh yeah, gotta start thinking about what to plant in the veggie garden too.

    Allen

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Franklin County, PA
    Posts
    493

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    Alright! ... PA Beekeepers Hi Allen, Dragonfly130, TriJim, Glock, DCBees, PAHunter, MJFish1975, DPLONG, I am somewhere in between wanting to do something and wanting to leave them alone for another week or two. Last year I reversed a hive about this same time and then it froze for a month so it was too soon. I guess this year may stay more consistent. I put out an open feeder of 1 to 1 sugar syrup about 20 feet from the hive of and they are enjoying it. Last year I had one established colony and 3 packages. I split them into ten hives using queens I bought and or reared in nucs. It was a bit late before some of the queens I bought arrived and the fall flow effect wasnt very beneficial so I made candy and bought some sugar bricks for above the hives. I tried but I still lost 3 of them to starving. I don't know what I could have aside from given them more syrup in the fall. I will do that this fall if they are light. One had a bad mite problem and it didn't make it either. The remaining 6 are doing well. In a few days I will dig around a bit and see what is going on. Part of me is in twilight zone from this warm weather. To prevent swarming .... When I am a bit more certain it will stay warm I am going to get them back into a single deep give them some empty combs and let them begin to work up again but I don't want to jump the gun. Pollen seems abundant enough but I will probably put some pollen in soon. Guess they won't eat it if they can get the fresh stuff. If one of the colonies swarms I will hopefully be on top of that and take a few swarm cells to make splits with. I wouldn't expect swarming normally until May but I was told by some more experienced beekeepers it may come a few weeks early depending on your colony. Something I learned from bee class was that it is better to get a super on earlier rather than later so if the flow starts they have room. Apparently here close to Hagerstown Maryland Chambersburg P.A. that will be April /May. Until then I'll feed them. This open feeding seems O.K. but apparently it promotes robbing and I have seen some of the bees fighting at the feeder. I am Looking forward to hearing more from The Pennsylvanian's Best Wishes to you all VW
    smallest.jpg

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Pittsburgh PA
    Posts
    399

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    Hello everybody!
    Another PA beek here. so nice to see everybody is doing well.
    Mine are doing well too 10 out of 11 made it so far. Now if only these maples/crocus start blooming...
    There is no greater satisfaction than the satisfaction of a job well done.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Coatesville, Pa, USA
    Posts
    838

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    Well I'm also a fellow Pa beekeeper. I was just in all 3 of my hives on Thursday afternoon and all are doing well. I put dry sugar on top of all of them just as "insurance" because they're all small. One has only taken / used about half of it, but the other 2 have mostly used it up. While I was out I was surprised to see a red bee coming in. I had to do a double take. I think it's the maple. I think it's on. The one hive that I could get to had 3 solid brood frames, and still 2-1/2 of stores in a 10 frame deep. The other one is a 5 frame deep and the other had sugar on top so I couldn't get in and see. Bottom line I think the maples are on. Every time I've been to see them this winter I've been shocked to see them bringing in polen. Even the first week of January!!! Seeing that, I'm not even thinking of putting any polen sub in there because even Thursday there were plenty of "buckets full". Also another thought is if you start w/ syrup then you can't stop until the flow starts. I'm going to wait on that until I see they're light on stores. (AKA in my small hives under a frame capped) I am thankfull to report that I have not had a hive die out this year.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Lititz, PA, USA
    Posts
    710

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    The red pollen coming in is deadnettle. Maple pollen is yellow, but that's coming in too. Pollen def. available, but I don't think there's really any nectar yet. They're going to be using a lot of stores to raise brood now, if the warm days last week didn't kick them into high gear, this week will. Make sure you stay on top of your stores and feed if they're light. Many hives die in this part of spring when they need to feed brood and then keep them warm at night.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Coatesville, Pa, USA
    Posts
    838

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    Thanks for the info Libhart. I thought maple would be red simply because the flowers that I've seen were red.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Slippery Rock PA
    Posts
    40

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    Checked on the hives yesterday, sunny and high 60s here in western PA. Everything is looking good, all were bringing in pollen. I had do get into my one top bar hive and do a little work, a rat chewed through the side and took out a lot of comb and honey but didn't touch the sugar on top. I cleaned it all up in there and it was a mess. The bees were taking honey from all the destroyed comb back into the hive and they still have some stores left. The numbers still look good and I found the queen, laying away. I've got workers hatching out but no drones yet. I got to watch a few chew their way out, always cool to watch. The top bar hive was definitely finding some nectar somewhere, not sure where. I did see a lot of bees on the crocuses in the flower bed and they weren't taking pollen. It was rainy here all day today but it looks like they should get some flight time the next three days. I'm going to try and get out for a walk tomorrow and see what's blooming. There's a lot of things starting to turn green here.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Posts
    151

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    wow - its a PA beekeeper thread!! glad to hear all the hives are doing well! My hives are much like eveyone elses... bringing in pollen from the crocus, maples, some deadnettle and some willow - all f my hives (30 ) are doing well and in varying degrees of populations - some of my strongest have two frames of brood but most are about 2/3 to a full frame of brood. Only lost 1 out of 9 overwintered nucs to a condensation problem and I saw that one coming. This coming week I expect things to go full force here in Pittsburgh - 3-4 types of pollen coming in and we are just getting started! Will probably start feeding some pollen patties and 1:1 this week to really build up some of my colonies so I can split in another month - Its Bee Time!! Good to see all the Pa folks chiming in!

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    9,783

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    I am watching you guys because I think you are two weeks maybe three ahead of me. If anybody has a crystal ball they will make big bucks. I am keying in on the pollen intake... it is much more than I have seen in my 2 1/2 years experience.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Tyrone, Pennsylvania,USA
    Posts
    353

    Default Re: Colony update here in Pa

    Got my first sting of the year yesterday.I got it right between my fingers in the tender area ,ouch that one hurt!Also had one of my very dark queens fly away,not to happy about that.I leaned the frame with the queen against the hive and walked away to grab the queen excluder and when i got back she was gone.All i wanted to do was move her down out of the honey super.One more lesson in beekeeping!

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