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Thread: My First Spring

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Pensacola, FL
    Posts
    140

    Default My First Spring

    All,

    I'm coming through my first winter as a beekeeper and, based on the activity I see at the entrances, both of my hives have made it so far. I'm in Pensacola, FL so our winters are fairly mild here. It's going to be nearly 70 today. My hives are eight frame medium equipment, and each hive is three boxes tall at the moment. While I realize that it's still January, if I understand correctly, much of our honey flow is about to get underway. So I'm starting to think of how best to prepare my two colonies.


    I believe that I need to remove any leftover stores from winter and give them plenty of room work for the flow. So it was my thought to remove one box and process the honey, which would reduce each hive to two boxes. Then as we approach late February/early March when the flow takes off in earnest I can monitor their progress and start adding back boxes as necessary.


    Does that sound about right? Am I jumping the gun by removing excess stores in January? Should I wait until February for that? Your input is appreciated as this is my first time at this.


    Thanks in advance,
    Brian
    Hobby Beekeeper - Second Year - Two Hives

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Rupert, Idaho, USA
    Posts
    86

    Default Re: My First Spring

    I would suggest you check with a local beekeeper, or your local supplier of beekeeping equipment, for that kind of info. I could offer all kinds of suggestions, but since I am sitting at minus 15 F this AM with a foot of snow on the ground my advice would be pretty much useless to you. There are some good Florida beekeepers often on these forums, maybe one of them will chip in some advice. Just thinking about your 70 degree temps today may send me into a bout of depression for a while.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    3,380

    Default Re: My First Spring

    Hopefully some local Floridians will chime in with their advice for you.

    If your flow begins in Feb/March then I would assume that the colony is beginning, or is already in, brood expansion. If that's the case I don't think you want to downsize to 16 medium frames right now. They need room to expand. If at this point all the frames are either brood or capped honey you need to give them some room to grow ahead of the flow.

    If it's your first winter then I will assume that you don't have any extra boxes with drawn comb. If that's your position, and the hive looks crowded, then pull out some frames of capped honey and extract them. Then put them right back in as soon as possible. Make sure you leave some honey for them to drawn from as they expand the brood nest. You could always feed syrup if necessary to get them to your nectar flow.

    If you do have boxes with drawn comb then I would think that right now you would want to "add" another box above the brood nest. Move the capped honey frames up into this box and alternate them with empty frames. As the colony grows they will move up into the extra box and consume the capped honey as they expand the brood nest.
    To everything there is a season....

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Posts
    1,620

    Default Re: My First Spring

    Don't jump the gun just yet. Feb. can be one of our coldest months. We have had some very mild weather so far but, it is still winter time. I am east of you but, here March can have a little bit of a dearth before the main flow kicks in. The bees will use a lot of honey between now and the main flow making more bees. I would wait until middle to late Feb. and see where the hives are at, if there is still a lot of capped honey harvest about half of it and checker board the empty frames back in the hives and then super with drawn comb. If you have some spring TiTi you may not get the dearth in March we get, in that case you may have to take some honey earlier in Feb. to make some room.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Pensacola, FL
    Posts
    140

    Default Re: My First Spring

    Thanks for the advice guys. I haven't been in the hives since early December, but they had a lot of capped honey at that time and both had laying queens. I'll get in this weekend and see what I can find.

    As Mike surmised, I do not have frames of empty comb. I also don't have an extractor, so anything I take is going to have to be crushed and strained. I think when I do my inspection, if things are crowded, I may pull out a frame or two from each hive to give them a bit of space. But I hesitate to take a full box and checkerboard at this point in case we get an additional cold snap, as John suggested. I don't want to interfere with their ability to cluster.

    Thanks again,

    Brian
    Hobby Beekeeper - Second Year - Two Hives

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Posts
    1,620

    Default Re: My First Spring

    Is there a local club in Pensacola? Most clubs have extractors they rent out. Our club has two and they only charge members $10 so it is very reasonable. That drawn comb would be very helpful if you can find an extractor.

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