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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default a day in the beeyard

    yesterday was picture perfect here in northeast alabama with clear blue skies, 60 degrees, and light wind.

    the foraging was strong with lots of pollen and nectar coming in, most likely from maple, elm, and juniper.

    i couldn't resist fueling up the smoker and taking the first in depth look of the season into a handful of my hives.

    what made the day even more special was that i was accompanied by beesource contributors sonnypemberton and wcubed, (walt wright).

    many thanks walt for helping to expand my understanding of what i'm looking at in the beehive!

    and to you sonny for providing an extra pair of hands!

    sharing the experience with others is an awesome thing, and i highly recommend it.

    we did a full inspection on four hives and found three of them to be brooding in earnest with great patterns. it was obvious that they were expanded their broodnest through the last of the winter stores.

    the manipulation consisted primarily of checkerboarding medium supers over the single deep brood chamber.

    the fourth hive was a disappointment, as there was no worker brood but rather only spotty drone brood. some was in drone cells and some was in worker cells. there were multiple eggs laid in some cells. no queen was found, we assumed laying workers, and the bees were shook out to 'work out their own salavation'.

    i experienced a high percentage of queen loss this winter, 5 out of 18 hives.

    2 hives were laying workers and were shook out. one hive had been robbed (i am assuming after losing their queen)and the few remaining bees starved. another hive had just a few bees, some stores, and there was no sign of robbing. yet another hive had no bees and there had been obvious robbing.

    all of these looked as good as the rest last fall when i last inspected them. i didn't do mite counts on these and there were no treatments given for mites, but i didn't find much feces in the combs. they have been on a honey only diet.

    going forward, i think i'll put a little more effort into raising quality queens this year, and plan on overwintering a handful of nucs. i am also set up to do mite counts, and i'm considering a microscope to check for nosema.

    in the meantime, i'm wondering why so many queen failures? this is my fourth winter, i had zero losses in the first three.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
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    3,871

    Default Re: a day in the beeyard

    How was the weather last year? Was there drought and lack of fall flow? Many times the bees fail as they were not getting proper nutrition from late summer and fall flows, so healthy over winter bees were not raised. Late summer and fall varroa mite loads will cause the same thing, mal-nutritioned or weak of health bees going into winter. With the odd weather around the country, I just thought perhaps you had summer/fall drought or lack of flows.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: a day in the beeyard

    many thanks ray. our rainfall here last year was close to historical averages, but we do get a couple of months of dearth from about mid june to mid august. the fall flow was good, and there were still several frames of healthy bees in the laying worker hives.

    i noticed several small swarms issue in the early fall. i am guessing these were do to supercedure. i have seen birds going after the bees at time, queens and drones i think. it may be that these losses were from failed fall supercedures.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
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    2,745

    Default Re: a day in the beeyard

    If it was so "picture perfect"... where's the pics? lol


    Seriously, pics would be nice...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: a day in the beeyard

    dang beeman, i wish i would have thought to do that, guess i had bees on the brain.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,572

    Default Re: a day in the beeyard

    Could be failed supersedures, could be inadequate protein to make winter bees. I fed mine a protein patty in September, along with a bunch of syrup on one hive that wasn't up to weight, and they both look good so far, but it's too cold to open them up yet.

    We had fall swarms too, the first time my neighbor had seen them in 30 years of beekeeping, so it was a strange year all round. Summer in March, winter in April, fall swarms.

    Take a look at Randy Oliver's article on fall nutrition, it will have you putting a pollen patty on your hives for wintering, I think. We have a lousy fall flow here most years, a couple years ago we had NO rain until November when it was already getting cold, and I lost my hive in spite of the massive candy board I put on. Winter feeding was too late, they dwindled away, too small a cluster.

    I too plan to try to overwinter some nucs next year -- I can always sell them if I don't need them, but if I lose some hives, I can rebuild from the overwintered nuc much faster than from a split.

    Peter

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Jackson, MO
    Posts
    599

    Default Re: a day in the beeyard

    Yep, no pics, didn't happen.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: a day in the beeyard

    will do psfred, good suggestion.

    i have witnesses jd!
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Kingsport, Sullivan, Tennessee
    Posts
    789

    Default Re: a day in the beeyard

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    <snip>....what made the day even more special was that i was accompanied by beesource contributors sonnypemberton and wcubed, (walt wright).....<snip>
    That was one heck of an opportunity you got there. -js

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
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    1,544

    Default Re: a day in the beeyard

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    ...the manipulation consisted primarily of checkerboarding medium supers over the single deep brood chamber....
    squarepeg
    How you guys do checker-boarding between medium and deep?
    Серёжа, Sergey

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    jackson co. al.
    Posts
    73

    Default Re: a day in the beeyard

    Quote Originally Posted by cerezha View Post
    squarepeg
    How you guys do checker-boarding between medium and deep?
    There was only one thing on squarepegs mind Walt and to have him in his bee yard i know was an honor right Kevin.

  12. #12
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    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: a day in the beeyard

    Quote Originally Posted by cerezha View Post
    squarepeg
    How you guys do checker-boarding between medium and deep?
    excellent question sergery.

    i'll begin with describing my overwintering configuration, which looks like this:

    telescoping top cover
    vented with screens inner cover
    medium
    deep
    medium
    solid bottom board

    the bottom medium is empty, all of the brood in the deep with some stores remaining from fall, and the top medium is honey, (actually what is left of the honey that i left them there in the fall, about 2/3 gone at this point on average).

    the checkerboarding manipulation involved alternating the honey frames with empty comb frames in the top medium, and bringing the bottom medium of empty comb on the top.

    not much was done with the frames in the deeps, other than to move the broodnest over to the center if it happened to be all the way to one side, and this was to give them room to expand both ways, (thanks for that walt!)

    it was interesting and comforting to see the evidence of broodnest expansion, mostly sideways in the deeps at this point, but with room to go up when the time comes.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  13. #13
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    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: a day in the beeyard

    Quote Originally Posted by HEV261 View Post
    There was only one thing on squarepegs mind Walt and to have him in his bee yard i know was an honor right Kevin.
    you bet mr. v!
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Bryant, AL
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    64

    Default Re: a day in the beeyard

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    you bet mr. v!
    Was a great surprise/pleasure for me as well! Using Walt's techniques helped me prevent all but 1 hive from swarming last year.

  15. #15
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    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: a day in the beeyard

    after looking through my journals, i believe that of the five queens that were lost, 4 were reared in early 2011, (assuming they had not been superceded), and one was an emergency queen made in a split in 2012.

    it may be that the temperate climate here with almost year round brooding makes it tough for a queen to get much past two years. i'm leaning toward not letting a queen go for two winters.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    4,149

    Default Re: a day in the beeyard

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post

    i noticed several small swarms issue in the early fall. i am guessing these were do to supercedure. i have seen birds going after the bees at time, queens and drones i think. it may be that these losses were from failed fall supercedures.
    After/during a bad dearth often those small late "swarms" are really desperate, starving, probably diseased bees looking for greener pastures - according to Ed Holcome - sadly not worth collecting.
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  17. #17
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: a day in the beeyard

    Quote Originally Posted by David LaFerney View Post
    After/during a bad dearth often those small late "swarms" are really desperate, starving, probably diseased bees looking for greener pastures - according to Ed Holcome - sadly not worth collecting.
    that's interesting david. the one's i saw came toward the end of the fall flow last year. i just let them fly.

    the replacement queens could not have had as good of nutrition as spring queens get.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
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    2,776

    Default Re: a day in the beeyard

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    juniper.
    Never heard of juniper as a resource for honey bees. What are they collecting. Got any pics of this forage?
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  19. #19
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    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: a day in the beeyard

    the juniper here is red cedar ab, and they get pollen on them very early, before the elm and maple. i've not actually seen a bee on one, i just assumed it was the only thing available earlier this winter when i saw them bringing in pollen.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
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    1,357

    Default Re: a day in the beeyard

    Red cedar pollen is gray, and I've never seen it in a hive. It's blooming now. Those cedars that are brownish now are flowering. The brownish color is the bloom base which looks like a minerature tight pine cone.

    Walt

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