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Thread: My First Spring

  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
    88

    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
    3,472

    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
    1,752

    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
    1,752

    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.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Pensacola, FL
    Posts
    140

    Default Re: My First Spring

    So I got into the hives and didn't find nearly as much honey as I expected. There are a couple frames in each hive and that's it. But both are raising brood like crazy, which seems to make sense in anticipation of the main flow starting in a few weeks. Looks like I'll be adding a fourth box to each hive this weekend to make sure they have room to work. And I should probably think about ordering a fifth box for each hive.

    Brian
    Hobby Beekeeper - Second Year - Two Hives

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Myrtle Beach, SC, USA
    Posts
    876

    Default Re: My First Spring

    And a sixth
    https://www.facebook.com/stevesbees99
    Please visit my page, Thanks

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Pensacola, FL
    Posts
    140

    Default Re: My First Spring

    Quote Originally Posted by sfisher View Post
    And a sixth
    You think? This is my first go-round and I have no idea how fast things will take off when the flow hits.

    Brian
    Hobby Beekeeper - Second Year - Two Hives

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    3,472

    Default Re: My First Spring

    I agree, it's best to be over prepared. One of your colonies may prepare to swarm in spite of all you efforts and you may need to do a split. Have more equipment ready to go than you think you might need.
    And that will probably still not be enough.
    To everything there is a season....

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,938

    Default Re: My First Spring

    all very good advice given here so far.

    another option might be to add some foundationless frames here and there once the population starts booming and they begin drawing new wax. you can read about it on bushfarms.com.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Pensacola, FL
    Posts
    140

    Default Re: My First Spring

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    all very good advice given here so far.

    another option might be to add some foundationless frames here and there once the population starts booming and they begin drawing new wax. you can read about it on bushfarms.com.
    This is exactly my plan. I've got an additional 8-frame box ready to go for each hive. It's a bit cold to open the hives today, but it's supposed to be nearly 70 on Friday so I'll add them then. My plan is to alternate drawn & new frames in two boxes (which would be checkerboarding...right?) so they'll have room to build. And, as advised, I've got parts for two more boxes per hive on the way as well. The bees have been flying a lot lately so whatever they're doing...they're hard at it.

    Brian
    Hobby Beekeeper - Second Year - Two Hives

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