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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Raleigh, NC, USA
    Posts
    31

    Default Top bar management...what's going on???

    BACKGROUND: I have two KTBH's that I started from packages in mid-April 2012. I fed them 1:1 syrup extensively and they built up nicely before winter with substantial capped honey (and probably some capped syrup). I did not harvest any honey last year. My intent was to allow the bees to use what they needed to get through the winter and harvest the excess this spring when the nectar flow started. A 50-yr. beekeeper at the association meeting cautioned that the many hives around here die from starvation from mid-March to mid-April if the whether turns rainy for a long period just as the hive is raising lots of brood. Based on that advice, I intended to harvest some honey in the next week or so...especially because I need to add more empty bars to the brood nest to keep them from swarming and there isn't much room to do that without harvesting honey (both hives have 30 bars). On a warm day in late February I did an inspection and the best hive had 10 bars of capped honey; the other had about 4 bars.

    QUESTIONS:
    On April 1, I did another inspection and virtually ALL of the capped honey is now UNcapped They expanded the brood nest and are building nicely. The big colony had even built new comb on a couple bars next to the end entrance and filled them with uncapped honey. What happened? Why did they uncap all the stores whenever they were gathering nectar? What did I do wrong? How long will it take for them to cap that honey so that I can pull it to give them more room when the big flow starts in a week or two? What can I do if they don't cap it before they run out of space?

    Thanks for your help!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
    Posts
    2,185

    Default Re: Top bar management...what's going on???

    You haven't done anything wrong, they survived the winter with your help. I would be more concerned with how many bars of capped brood you have - that helps determine whether you have enough space - a bee in a cell takes up less space than a bee on a frame when it emerges. If a hive is about to explode knock up another TBH, put the new one in its place and put a couple of bars with brood in all stages in there and a few bars of honey. The hive you moved will be less likely to swarm as the foragers will return to the old site.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Raleigh, NC, USA
    Posts
    31

    Default Re: Top bar management...what's going on???

    Hi Adrian,

    Thanks for the quick response! I actually responded shortly thereafter; however, that was from my tablet and for some reason it did not post...much to my dismay.

    I actually already have another hive, so I can implement your suggestion to split it, taking care of the immediate problem of limited space.

    I don't even know if it is possible to explain the behavior of my bees, but I was really hoping that someone could provide insight into why they uncapped all of the capped honey during March. On April 1 all combs were full but uncapped! Also, how long might it take before they actually re-cap it.

    When do most TBH beeks harvest excess winter stores from their hives? I would like to understand this better for the future!

    Thanks, again, for your help!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
    Posts
    3,622

    Default Re: Top bar management...what's going on???

    My guess would be that they are using the over wintered stores to raise brood with when there are non foraging days in the spring due to weather. As weather warms and they can forage again, they'll pass off and store the nectar in the closest available cells. At night or on slower nectar days they can then move that quick stored nectar up and recap the honey storage up above. It's all about weather, being able to forage or not, and nectar flows.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Raleigh, NC, USA
    Posts
    31

    Default Re: Top bar management...what's going on???

    Quote Originally Posted by RayMarler View Post
    My guess would be that they are using the over wintered stores to raise brood with when there are non foraging days in the spring due to weather. As weather warms and they can forage again, they'll pass off and store the nectar in the closest available cells. At night or on slower nectar days they can then move that quick stored nectar up and recap the honey storage up above. It's all about weather, being able to forage or not, and nectar flows.
    Ray,

    I did a quick inspection today, hoping they might have capped some honey. You hit the nail on the head. In the past 9 days, they have consumed more than half of the honey that they had uncapped. They ARE raising a lot of brood and evidently require more than they can forage right now. I guess I will have to wait for my honey! Thanks for your reply!

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