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  1. #1
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    Default questions about 2nd full year/start of 3rd year

    I got 2 NUC's in June of 2015. Spent that first year building them up to have 2 deep hive bodies. 2016 I was able to harvest some honey. I am overwintering with 2 deep hive bodies on both hives. Last year I didn't get as much honey as I would have liked because they swarmed way earlier than I thought they would (mid February - I'm in the south and have mild winters and early springs). I am pretty new to this and want to really be able to get some more honey this year.

    My plan is late January/early February I'll rotate the deep hive bodies (I was told from the guy I got these from that at the end of winter rotate the hive so the top deep is on the bottom and the bottom deep is now on the top). Both hives are pretty good sized because it doesn't get too cold here and they can forage most of the winter except for a few cold weeks here and there. So, I was going to just put my queen excluders on and put a super on. Is there anything more I need to do? Is there anything I need to do with the frames already in the hive? Should I be swapping out frames (no obviously old or dilapidated frames) with new frames or switching out foundation?

    I have one split that I made last year with a queen cell after my hive swarmed. This hive has overwintered on 1 deep hive body. My plan for this hive was starting late January/early February I would put the second deep hive body on and put a feeder on it and try to get them to build up for a few months, then take the feeder off in March/April and put my supers on.

    I've spent the winter getting more supers and deep hive bodies and frames/foundation and everything I will need possibly for splits and to have enough honey supers.

    Just curious what other people do with an established hive as winter is ending and spring is starting. I need to be prepared this year. I really helped out the wild bee population here by loosing 4 swarms last year from my 2 hives.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Massillon, Ohio
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    5,135

    Default Re: questions about 2nd full year/start of 3rd year

    My advise would be to focus this coming year on building up as many "extra" drawn frames as you can. It is extremely difficult to reduce spring swarming if you don't have extra boxes with drawn comb. Most of the time the bees end up in the trees, then 1/2 of your bees and a potential harvest are lost.

    They are most likely going to swarm anyway, so I would plan on doing early splits. Later in the season you can evaluate and keep the best queens, do some combining, and next fall be back to your original number of hives. Then you will have some extra boxes with drawn comb for the following spring. That puts you in a much better position for effective swarm control and a decent honey harvest.

    Probably not what you wanted to hear, but I've been there too. Management becomes so much easier when you have all the tools needed to be successful. Without it, it can be extremely frustrating.
    To everything there is a season....

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    York County, VA, USA
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    302

    Default Re: questions about 2nd full year/start of 3rd year

    I'm in your position, too, but with eight colonies going into their first winter. So perhaps I'm four times as hard up as you were last winter. And I have no spare comb. I am personally getting on the Nectar Management train, supplemented by the brood nest widening boat. I'm hoping to avoid some of the evils of no drawn comb by using full and partial sheets of Acorn 3x waxed plastic comb along with some foundation-less frames. It will be interesting. Look at Lauri's partial foundation pictures in one of these threads. They're quite pretty. It is said (can't say it's true) that empty foundation is often viewed by the bees as a wall rather than an opportunity. Some of the same folks say that empty frames between combs are viewed by the bees as opportunities and they draw them out more quickly than they would foundation. I'm hoping to test whether the holes in partial foundation sheets cause the bees to start filling in, and perhaps force of habit will result in their finishing the frames.

    Doing the Nectar Management (see Walt Wright and/or Matt[hew] Davey) is an interesting prospect for me. Fascinating way to spend a few weeks reading. I'm in up to my eyeballs and becoming persuaded.

    Michael

  4. #4
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    Feb 2015
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    Rosebud Missouri
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    Default Re: questions about 2nd full year/start of 3rd year

    Mike
    You are in zone 5a and I am in zone 5b and I took basic training for the army in sc which I am sure is warmer yet then even me. When you say do early splits, do you have an aproximate calender date that you would consider doing it.
    Thanks
    gww
    zone 5b

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
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    Georgetown County, South Carolina
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    Default Re: questions about 2nd full year/start of 3rd year

    Lots of great advice. It does sound like a better long term plan to get more drawn comb then worry about honey to be harvested.

    Last year I had my first swarm late February. I was just lazy and wasn't getting into the hive enough in February to notice what was going on. My plan this year was starting in late January start getting into the hive more frequently, so that I don't miss the signs the are wanting to swarm and probably sometime in February/March make a split potentially. Which I guess brings me to another question....

    When the hive is pretty full and it's only February/March, if they haven't started making queen cells yet, is putting supers on good enough to give them the feel that there is more room, in order to hopefully keep them from getting the urge to swarm, or should I just make a split or add another deep hive body?

  6. #6
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    Feb 2006
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    Massillon, Ohio
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    Default Re: questions about 2nd full year/start of 3rd year

    Quote Originally Posted by gww View Post
    When you say do early splits, do you have an aproximate calender date that you would consider doing it.
    Every zone will have different target dates. When you do a split, conditions have to be right for the queenless half to successfully raise a new queen.

    In my area, the colonies usually will start backfilling and early swarm prep a few weeks before apple blossom. I need to time a split during this period. After dandelion bloom but before apple. There needs to be drones in the hives when you do a split so they will be mature and flying for mating within a couple of weeks. Rather than a specific date I look for bloom timing and the colony development. Every year seems to vary a bit on the calendar, earlier or later.
    To everything there is a season....

  7. #7
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    Default Re: questions about 2nd full year/start of 3rd year

    Quote Originally Posted by kaywould View Post

    When the hive is pretty full and it's only February/March, if they haven't started making queen cells yet, is putting supers on good enough to give them the feel that there is more room, in order to hopefully keep them from getting the urge to swarm, or should I just make a split or add another deep hive body?
    This is why it's so important to have extra drawn comb, at least for me. If you add a box with foundation they may not be ready to begin drawing out comb yet, and they will instead start to backfill the broodnest cells. If it's drawn comb they will move right up.

    Walt Wright's management strategy is built around having extra boxes of drawn comb to checkerboard and add to the stack in late winter well before swarming ever gets started.

    Matt Davey has had success with adding empty frames on the sides of the broodnest. It works for him, and for others as well, so it may be something to consider. I've never been able to use his method because our build up period is so rapid that there is not enough time to slow down swarm prep. Colonies seem to switch from build up to swarming within 2 or 3 weeks. Not enough time for them to reach the point where they are drawing out enough comb to suppress swarming.
    To everything there is a season....

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    York County, VA, USA
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    302

    Default Re: questions about 2nd full year/start of 3rd year

    I'm looking forward to the start of my second (real) year of beekeeping as well, next spring.

    Lauri has a recently activated thread in which she posts images of partial foundation sheets built out in interesting ways. If open spaces induces bees to start wax production, they may continue across the plastic surface with its defined cell size and so not produce full combs of drone cells.

    I'm studying and learning and hoping that I can understand. I'm in S.E. VA, somewhat north of the S.C. participants in this thread, but still relatively mild wintered. We do have a little 20s F weather forecast mid-month.

    Michael

    Wow. It's easy to forget that you already wrote what you're writing. I should look up a few posts to see what I said a few minutes ago. Edited to reduce repetition.

    So, OK, let's edit to add some non-repetition. I know that full-cell plastic comb is available. Is it possible to use some of that as the otherwise not-in-my-possession feed comb (after stuffing with syrup in the way that Honey Householder starts his year with package bees) alternating with <whatever> as a checkerboard alternate while one is trying to generate more comb? It seems that this might be something arguably useful.
    Last edited by DerTiefster; 12-13-2016 at 07:21 PM.

  9. #9
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    Massillon, Ohio
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    Default Re: questions about 2nd full year/start of 3rd year

    Quote Originally Posted by DerTiefster View Post
    If open spaces induces bees to start wax production, they may continue across the plastic surface with its defined cell size and so not produce full combs of drone cells.
    I'm not sure if "open spaces" actually induces wax production in the intensity you would need. When a colony has a high population of bees at the right age for maximum wax production, yes, I've found they draw comb in empty frames quicker than they would with foundation.

    The trick is knowing when the colony is at the peak wax making stage in their development. If you think about it, in spring a colony by nature is programmed to swarm, reproduce. If the swarm is going to set out and start over from scratch in a hollow tree or some other empty cavity they will need to build a tremendous amount of comb, and quickly.

    Unfortunately, that peak period when workers are prolific at producing wax is when they have already swarmed. For the beekeeper, we need to halt that process a few weeks earlier. In my area at least, the bees are not yet at their peak wax making capabilities as they begin swarm prep. Then after backfilling and swarm prep is under way they do not seem to want to devote any wax to filling in holes I might open up in the hive. It's almost as if they are saving it for swarming.
    To everything there is a season....

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Rosebud Missouri
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    Default Re: questions about 2nd full year/start of 3rd year

    Mike
    Thanks for a very clear answer that gives me enough guidence to follow. I had almost thought that the dandilions and apples came about the same time last year. It was very warm and in truth it was pear and peach cause a very early april freeze stopped the apple bloom. But I think your answer gets me close.

    I should know some of this but have to keep asking to reassure myself.
    Thanks
    gww

    Ps It may sound stupid but I still can not tell the differrance in the look of a drone and a worker by just looking. I can tell the differrance in the capped brood though. One time a swarm was filling one of my traps and I was really close and looking for the queen and I reached out and picked up what looked like a bigger bee and I didn't get stung but even being that close I was not sure if it was a drone or just a bee.
    zone 5b

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Georgetown County, South Carolina
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    8

    Default Re: questions about 2nd full year/start of 3rd year

    Definitely learning a lot here. I need to be attending my local beekeepers society meetings it appears so i can be asking some questions face to face and having conversations face to face with some "old timers".

    How exactly should I go about getting more drawn out comb to store for times when I'll need it? Instead of putting supers on should I instead put on a queen excluder so I don't have any brood in it, then put a deep hive body on top and let them draw out comb then remove the frames before it's really filled with honey/nector/pollen? Or is there some other way to go about getting frames of drawn out comb to store for future needs?

    I have no drawn comb just hanging around. A big problem I had last year was I didn't have enough materials to make splits or catch swarms (they were so high in the pine trees I couldn't get to them anyway and trying to lure them into a swarm trap didn't work either). So, I've bought a lot of Mann Lake rite-cell and have plenty of deeps and supers and other hive components to make splits, but it appears that one thing I am lacking is real drawn comb. I will definitely work on that this year!

  12. #12
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    Rosebud Missouri
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    Default Re: questions about 2nd full year/start of 3rd year

    kay...
    The best answer to your last question is the one mike gillmore gave:
    They are most likely going to swarm anyway, so I would plan on doing early splits. Later in the season you can evaluate and keep the best queens, do some combining, and next fall be back to your original number of hives. Then you will have some extra boxes with drawn comb for the following spring. That puts you in a much better position for effective swarm control and a decent honey harvest.
    In my opinion. It seems as me, you and dar are in the same boat of needing to get some comb. Thanks for starting this thread.
    gww
    zone 5b

  13. #13
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    Aug 2015
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    Georgetown County, South Carolina
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    Default Re: questions about 2nd full year/start of 3rd year

    Thanks for the input and answers. I greatly appreciate it. Gives me a good idea on stuff to work on this coming year.

  14. #14
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    Feb 2006
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    Massillon, Ohio
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    Default Re: questions about 2nd full year/start of 3rd year

    Kay, what I would do in your shoes is stick with working on extra "deeps" this year.

    Do some 5 frame splits this spring. Take a couple frames of brood with plenty of bees and the queen, a couple frames of honey and pollen, and another frame that may be empty drawn comb, and put them in a deep box with another 5 frames with foundation. Shake in some extra bees from the parent hive. Center the split frames in the box and fill in the 5 foundation frames on each side. As times goes by they will start to work their way outward and fill out those frames.

    At the original hive, replace the frames you removed with frames of foundation and put them on the outsides of the boxes. They will produce a new queen to replace the queen that left with the "artificial swarm" you created in the split.

    As the split with the queen continues to grow add another deep box and you could always add a frame or two from the parent hive to help them out. By the time the spring/early summer flow is winding down you will have another double deep with drawn comb.

    Evaluate them through the summer and determine which of the two queens you would like to keep. Preferably the younger new queen if she is producing well. When you get into your dry period later in the summer you will probably have a lot of frames that are now empty of stores. Eliminate one of the queens and combine the two colonies with a newspaper combine. At that point you should be able to reduce them down to 3 deeps. That gives you one extra box of empty drawn comb for storage.

    As fall approaches and the brood nest contracts you will probably be able to again remove empty frames and reduce them down to a 2 deep winter configuration. Now you have 2 extra deeps with empty drawn comb to store for next spring.
    To everything there is a season....

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    York County, VA, USA
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    302

    Default Re: questions about 2nd full year/start of 3rd year

    From walt wright's "nectar management 101" in point of view:

    "Providing nectar storage space very early in the season is a key ingredient to success of this system. In my part of Tennessee the swarm issue season is early April and the prime swarm preparation period is late March. To precede the bee’s schedule, we often perform the manipulation in late February on stronger colonies. The appearance of new, white wax at the beginning of the main flow is the timing reference for the bees’ schedule at your location. The manipulation should be performed two full months before white wax."

    This might mean that one could potentially use some of the plastic full-cell material to get the bees to start expanding the brood nest upward. It might also not mean that. But the white wax mention occurs in others of the point of view articles by wright, and one that I was reading earlier today spoke of the bees being able to start wax generation earlier than white wax time, particularly for 2nd year colonies still in "establishment" mode. I'll look for that and see whether I can find some other information (either reinforcing or otherwise) about this prospect.

    It looked interesting for me.

    Michael

    Ah. May have found the (long) thread with speculation about that. It's

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...+establishment

    and I haven't pored over the whole thing to see what it says. Post #30 has some of the very relevant bits. Sometimes just reading such things is interesting, though. So, Dear Reader, I hope you have time to read it and can enjoy it as I intend to.
    Last edited by DerTiefster; 12-14-2016 at 07:29 PM. Reason: added punctuation (quotation marks) to clarify sources

  16. #16
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    Jan 2014
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    Roxboro, North Carolina
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    136

    Default Re: questions about 2nd full year/start of 3rd year

    Kaywould, be careful not to split the broodnest if you rotate hive bodies in the spring. Do not just blindly rotate the hive bodies. As far as swarms go, well, if they want to swarm they will no matter what. Even doing an early split you may end up with TWO swarms instead of one. Been there, done that, more times than I like. I do not have any use for a queen excluder. They have never worked for me. Hope this helps and good luck with your bees.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: questions about 2nd full year/start of 3rd year

    Quote Originally Posted by DerTiefster View Post
    The manipulation should be performed two full months before white wax......

    But the white wax mention occurs in others of the point of view articles by wright, and one that I was reading earlier today spoke of the bees being able to start wax generation earlier than white wax time, particularly for 2nd year colonies still in "establishment" mode.
    Just remember, the manipulation he's referring to involves "drawn" empty comb, checker-boarded with frames of capped honey.

    In my area, white wax usually shows up before June 1st (Blackberry bloom).
    So the manipulations should be done by April 1st (Cherry blossom).
    I'll typically start to see backfilling and early swarm prep start about mid April (Dandelion bloom).
    Swarms usually start to issue on May 1st (Apple Blossom).

    These are pretty predictable benchmarks in my area, probably in many other areas of the country too. I like to schedule my beekeeping chores based on bloom dates, rather than fixed dates on a calendar.

    I know Walt spoke of different developmental schedules in 2nd and 3rd year colonies. I've not seen enough of a difference where it's obvious. They all seem to develop simultaneously regardless of colony age. I'm sure he had a much keener eye than I have for these things. If there is some difference, I think it boils down to just days. What I've observed here anyway.
    To everything there is a season....

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    York County, VA, USA
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    302

    Default Re: questions about 2nd full year/start of 3rd year

    Having neither drawn empty comb nor being particularly flush with capped honey, I was considering substitutes:
    1) One would be open frames with or without some foundation in them (possibly partial sheets)

    2) Another would be plastic comb backfilled with sugar syrup (reminiscent of Honey Householder's feed mechanism for the start of his season with packages.

    Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say.

    Check out squarepeg's post #48 of the above-mentioned thread
    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...57#post1035957

    There's also the possibility I have started considering of peeling off a nuc split from one hive to preserve the queen and using the resources of both to make one of the larger 3-deep hives with adequate comb to do something like WW checkerboarding. With eight colonies, I could do that. I expect to have supplementary brood and comb available later in the spring/summer from nucleus colonies and/or managing some of the other colonies as resource factories.

    It's no longer clear to me whether I want to do a multi-bee-race comparison or a honey production free-for-all. All things considered, I don't live in a bee-hostile area and should be able to succeed with bees from most sources. Perhaps what I want most is to learn how to obtain 100# of honey per hive in the middle of a state average about 1/3 of that. Could be satisfying. Could be futile.

  19. #19
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    Feb 2015
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    Rosebud Missouri
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    Default Re: questions about 2nd full year/start of 3rd year

    MikeI caught one swarm may 6 and one may 7 last year. I am thinking you putting your aproxomate bloom dates are going to be pretty close for my area. I thank you for the extra info. Never tried hard to pay attention to bloom till last year and found I am not good at it.Cheersgww
    zone 5b

  20. #20
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    Feb 2006
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    Massillon, Ohio
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    Default Re: questions about 2nd full year/start of 3rd year

    Another would be plastic comb backfilled with sugar syrup (reminiscent of Honey Householder's feed mechanism for the start of his season with packages.
    The possibilities are endless. There are so many variables due to bee race, region, forage availability, weather, etc. Try different things and figure out what works best for you.

    I've learned so much from some of the guys here over the years, like Michael Bush and Walt Wright. I've read MB's website and have Walt's manuscript in my library. I've tried many different methods and beekeeping strategies based on information picked up on this site and from it's members. Some worked very well, some not so much. Eventually you'll whittle it down and find successful stability in your beekeeping practices and be comfortable with it. Then there are always new tidbits to pick up and try out.

    Your idea of using full cell plastic foundation sounds interesting. Might be worth experimenting with.
    To everything there is a season....

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