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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Marne, MI, USA
    Posts
    22

    Default When to remove the ent reducer, ventilation, etc.

    Hey all,

    My hives are still set up for winter (entrance reducer is in, I have the monitoring tray above the screened bottom board to reduce winter winds, the winter stores are still on, the inner cover is propped up 1/4"). Btw, I did check them a month ago and they were bringing in pollen, had a couple of frames of brood, still had honey in the winter super - all in all, they seemed and still seem like they are doing well.

    So...when should I remove the reducer, winter store, inner cover prop, monitoring tray (for full ventilation) and switch the boxes (if I decide to do that - I know it's debateable)? We seem to be 4+ weeks ahead of a normal spring bloom/temps here in west Michigan, but I resisted the temptation since I didn't want to have a cold/rainy snap come through mess things up.

    I'm planning/hoping to do a walk-away split, so if you are ~local and also splitting, please let me know when you did/are planning on doing this (I know the presence of drones is a key element, but I haven't been in my hive to check).

    My own thought is that I'd do all of the above at the end of the month since May 5 is the official frost free date and I didn't feel the need to rush anything (but then again, I might be completely wrong this is only my 2nd time with a sucessfully overwintered hive).

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Brown County, IN
    Posts
    2,025

    Default Re: When to remove the ent reducer, ventilation, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by GVSUBee View Post
    We seem to be 4+ weeks ahead of a normal spring bloom/temps here in west Michigan...
    ...I haven't been in my hive to check
    Any thoughts?
    Decisions need to be made NOT based on the calendar, but on what the conditions are. I'd predict that you'll have swarming long before May 5th (we've been having swarms for a couple of weeks here in central Indiana).

    Get in your hive, find out what's going on. I don't mean to come across as snarky, but don't look for answers on the Internet when you haven't even inspected your hive yet.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,473

    Default Re: When to remove the ent reducer, ventilation, etc.

    I'll second looking in the hive before anything else. Bees follow their own schedule, not the calander. Take a look and see what they are doing and how many bees there are.

    I would definitely NOT do a split until drones are flying consistently. Easy enough to check, just watch for them at the hive entrance. They fly in the afternoon for me, usually start appearing around 1 pm and flying in and out until around 4 pm. No signs of them after that.

    Once the drones are flying, you have a good chance of a new queen properly mating, and you can do a propagation split if you want, or a cut-down split to keep your honey production while starting a new hive. You will need to have a good supply of brood in any case, at least 6-8 solid deep frames or the equivalent, else you run the risk of reducing the size of both hives to the point they won't do well. Only way to tell is to open up and take a look.

    You will also need to check to make sure they are building up properly and healthy.

    You can probably leave the entrance reducer in place forever if you want, the bees will cope just fine. However, when it's getting really crowded and the bees pile up wating to get in, you can remove it. I'd leave it in until after your last frost date, if your weather is like ours, you are still due for a near or below freezing blast of Arctic air just about that time -- we got ours last week.

    Peter

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Bay City, MI 48706
    Posts
    78

    Default Re: When to remove the ent reducer, ventilation, etc.

    I leave my ent reducers on as long as I can. Only the very strong hives will I open to 3/4 of bottom board. and only when trafic jam will not go away. The brood takes 95 deg to keep warm.
    If you have not done some type of swarm control . You will probably have swarm cells in the next week to ten days that would be a great time to split,i already have cups, but keep a close eye, you wait to long and you will lose the swarm.
    Last edited by honeyman46408; 04-16-2012 at 05:07 PM. Reason: UNQuote

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Marne, MI, USA
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: When to remove the ent reducer, ventilation, etc.

    Thanks for the info.

    Indy, I'll check my hives again re: drones/swarming/splitting - I just wanted to get an idea of when other people are doing things.

    Besides, my main question is really about ventilation and winter stores. I don't want to open the bottom prematurely and risk chilling the brood. I know at least one beek that doesn't use an entrance reducer at all (although he uses solid bottom boards). Ultimately, I'm trying to figure out the best system and when to apply it (or maybe I'm over thinking it).

    Re: winter stores, my guess is that they probably don't need them anymore since there's a lot blooming, but then again, I don't see why it hurts to keep it on for a while longer.

    I was thinking that I'd just do everything (bottom vent, split, remove stores) all at once since my basic approach is to leave the bees alone.

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