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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
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    1,333

    Default Zone 7a - Main flow has arrived

    We are located in the southerly edge of the 7a arc that swoops northeastward to coastal PA. We are almost down to the Alabama state line. From here, the zone drifts more southerly to the base of the Texas panhandle. All the way, it squiggles north and south with variations in altitude and local micro climates. IMO the zones are mostly an effect of the distance from the source of cold blasts of arctic air coming down out of western Canada. That cold air moves in the quadrant from east to south with some guideance from the jet stream that moves from west to east across the northern tier of states. When the jet stream dips down into Texas, we get colder weather. (Would welcome an input from someone who knows that stuff.)

    We open this thread to note two things. 1. Late season in the middle of the country and 2. the start of main flow is not a function of field forage. In turn:

    In January, the winter was milder than normal here. The bees were foraging accasionally through both Dec and Jan. Thought we were headed for a repeat of the previous season where spring was early by 3 weeks. Checkerboarded in early Feb and things were clocking along, looking good for a couple weeks. Then, an abrupt change from milder than normal to colder than normal with rain between the colder periods. The early trees bloomed about on schedule, but the later-blooming trees were delayed. This left a period in early March (Broodnest explosion period) where field forage, or access to it, did not support expansion. There was almost no cluster growth through Mar.

    April brought some relief - warmer temps with sunshine. And reproductive swarm cut off came in on time with a normal season timing of the first week in April. We saw the normal tempoary new wax purging of a few days at that time. Since that time, we have monitored every few days for the All-up appearence of new wax heralding "main flow." Today, main flow is on. Had a clue when the cover was lifted. A number of bees gathered around the vent port in the inner cover - nectar dryers taking advantage of the warm updraft of air to dry necter. They are capping cured honey in the CBed supers. That honey has been curing by broodnest heat rise.

    We have reported in other places that repro c/o starts a 3 week period of limited overhead nectar storage. We call that period the "lull" (in nectar gain). That 3 week period ends with the start of main flow. It is interesting that this season the lull was stretched to 5 weeks. Don't ask me why. Another item of interest is that the colony has gained some strength since repro c/o. Normally, broodnest decrease starts at repro c/o. Does not seem to be the case in this wacko season.

    Will come back to this after my village mail run.
    Walt

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Kingston, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    257

    Default Re: Zone 7a - Main flow has arrived

    Yup same thing in East Tn, Tulip Popular has been blooming since last week in April (10 days late) but not much nectar was coming in as surplus till this past week. Looks like the tulip trees will be blooming for another week. Blackberry is now in bloom along with privet ( Lepidoptera species) and dutch clover. Traveled down to Woodstock Ga, today through the Georgia mountains and tulips are still going strong down south too. Looks like we will be getting an extended tulip flow this year if the afternoon temps stay in the high 70s and the rain hits every 4-5 days. Can't guess right now if it's going to be a good honey year.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    1,333

    Default Re: Zone 7a - Main flow has arrived

    To continue:
    We maintain that the new wax of main flow is a result of the colony internal operations and not related to field nectar availability. In this 5 week period of no overhead nectar gain, several generous souces of nectar have come and gone. Black locust, for example, has just finished. It was 2 weeks late, just like the bee's schedule. BL normally blooms here in the last 2 weeks of the lull, and we get no gain from it. (middle of Apr to 1 st of May) Tulip poplar picks up when BL fades and sometimes they overlap some. We saw a TP in full bloom more than a week ago. As noted on other threads recently, TP is a major source in main flow in the Southeast. Just because it starts when the bees are ready to store honey. For more on the development schedule of our bees see the descriptions in POV, this site.

    Take home message: All the trees do not respond the same way to a radical season. In the cold spring, some were retarded more than others. The bees also do not all react to conditions in the same way. The experiment hive in the backyard is about the strength it should be in early Mar. And Harold has 2 pacesetters a half mile away that have five supers filled at the start of main flow. Mercy!!

    Walt

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Marshall county, AL
    Posts
    792

    Default Re: Zone 7a - Main flow has arrived

    Walt, this sounds fascinating.

    Could you please dumb it down for us new folks. I have no idea what you are talking about, but sure would love to!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    5,940

    Default Re: Zone 7a - Main flow has arrived

    Brad Bee, here is a link to the POV articles authored by Walt:

    http://www.beesource.com/point-of-view/walt-wright/

    That will probably take you a while to digest!
    ultracrepidarian >> noting or pertaining to a person who criticizes, judges, or gives advice outside of his expertise

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,395

    Default Re: Zone 7a - Main flow has arrived

    i'm seeing very strong orientation flying out of the hives that did not swarm these past few days walt. would these be the wax makers and nectar processers that were reared during the storage lull? do you think they will start drawing out those supers of foundation soon?
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Nashville, TN
    Posts
    320

    Default Re: Zone 7a - Main flow has arrived

    Usually my neighborhood is about even with Walt although I'm 60 - 70 miles further North, but in suburban Nashville. This year, though, our tulip poplars began blooming by 4/28, 4 weeks later than last year. Locust has finished but tulips are still going. Have not seen the heavy foraging I've been expecting in spite of having checkerboarded. They still seem to be just revving their engines. . .two weeks ago I had a patch of capped brood up in the 6th medium 8 frame box, but haven't seen major orientation flights.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Gainesboro, Tennessee, USA.
    Posts
    398

    Default Re: Zone 7a - Main flow has arrived

    Ya hard to tell how this year will go down on the crop. Here's hopin!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Lewisburg, TN, USA
    Posts
    52

    Default Re: Zone 7a - Main flow has arrived

    I'm a bit leary that we'll end up with a very short flow. But not a thing any of us can do about it. Clover is looking pretty good if you have some of that around. Maybe it'll hang on for awhile.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    3,989

    Default Re: Zone 7a - Main flow has arrived

    I'm seeing the same conditions. Something that seems a bit odd to me is that even though my production hives have over five supers of heavy nectar/nearly cured honey there is very little capped honey anywhere. And what is capped is mostly just around the upper corners of the brood nest.

    Scant wax production at all really.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    1,333

    Default Re: Zone 7a - Main flow has arrived

    David,
    The lull that is just ended is the period that the colony is rearing the nectar processors and wax makers for "main flow." Now they are ready to store honey at efficient rates. You will be amazed how fast they get it done. It takes a while for the wax makers to catch up if you have substantial open nectar, but they will typically get it all capped before the end of main flow.

    Radar,
    Thanks for posting the link. I deliberately don't want to learn much about this machine.
    But I did print a copy of the URL.

    Walt

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    4,395

    Default Re: Zone 7a - Main flow has arrived

    looks like you are right on the money walt.

    as of last weekend, i didn't see any new comb being drawn on the frames of foundation i have in some of my hives.

    but today's inspections revealed wax making in earnest, and lots of nectar coming in as well!

    conventional wisdom was predicting the bees missed the main flow as the poplars and locusts are already done here.

    so, chalk another one up for wcubed! i would hug your neck if i could reach it.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,395

    Default Re: Zone 7a - Main flow has arrived

    (the hug was just a joke)
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Nashville, TN
    Posts
    320

    Default Re: Zone 7a - Main flow has arrived

    I just realized that what we really do in this region is build up (while trying not to build up so much that they swarm) until the May/June flow, then feed and baby them for the next 10 months so we can do it again! Somehow, that just doesn't seem smart?

    I've been reading a lot about overwintering nucs, and I wonder if a better alternative might be to somehow reduce them to nucs in July, overwinter the nucs, and let them rebuild in early Spring. If I understand correctly, each nuc would take 15 - 20 lbs of stores to winter vs. 50 - 60 for a full hive. (Not including however much they need to get through the dearth) Even if we had to combine 2 nucs in early Spring, could they build up to production size in time for our flow, especially if you have all drawn comb? Carniolans seem to have the right traits for this (small winter brood nest, rapid Spring buildup, reduce brood in a dearth) but don't know if they handle our heat and humidity as I don't see them offered much. Not sure how you would "shrink the hives" unless you just let them do an overcrowding swarm? Does any of this make any sense?
    Last edited by thenance007; 05-24-2013 at 07:10 PM.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
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    Default Re: Zone 7a - Main flow has arrived

    You are thinking girl. Except for the extra work and equipment, it makes a lot of sense. A couple of other considerations not mentioned are: A. The overwintered nuc with added space in the spring kicks down into the establishment mode and acts like a starter colony. B. In the Establishment mode, they have wax making capability and would be storing nectar/honey for the full spring flow. (We don't see wax making or overhead nectar storage from the overwintered, established colony until "main flow" or halfway through the spring flow.) C. Also the starter colony in the establishment mode works right on through the "lull" in overhead storage of the fully established. That 3 weeks is the peak of the spring flow.
    Walt
    Last edited by wcubed; 05-24-2013 at 06:51 PM.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Nashville, TN
    Posts
    320

    Default Re: Zone 7a - Main flow has arrived

    Thanks, Walt--that sounds great! So you've been keeping this strategy secret all this time? This option has been running around in my head for days but afraid I'd get laughed (or booed) off the forum for suggesting it. So how do you reduce your hive size down to nuc size, especially if you really don't want or can't have any more hives? And do you think I would need 2 nucs for every big hive or just a couple of "overwinter insurance" nucs extra?

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
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    Default Re: Zone 7a - Main flow has arrived

    Nancy,
    Didn't say I had done it -just that it was a good idea. You work out the details, and I'll come take a look. Things slow in N'ville on a Friday evening?
    Walt

  18. #18
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Nashville, TN
    Posts
    320

    Default Re: Zone 7a - Main flow has arrived

    I'm thinking maybe you crowd them down after you remove the honey supers, inducing them to swarm. They would have a brood break, a new young queen, and reduced size. Or introduce your preferred queen.

    Or cage or remove the old queen for a while to get a major reduction or stop to brood rearing--probably in early to mid June to downsize by dearth time? Any experience with Carneys in our area?

    One issue I can foresee is what to do with all of the regular size boxes of comb until you need it in the Spring. Would probably need to cycle it through a freezer to kill SHB/wax moths before storing.

    I know there are lots of experienced beekeepers from our zone who could help figure out the best way to do this and maybe it would be useful to a lot of you. So please chime in, guys!
    Last edited by thenance007; 05-25-2013 at 09:35 AM.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    4,395

    Default Re: Zone 7a - Main flow has arrived

    i'll have to learn how to take pictures during inspections.

    i was excited, relieved, and fascinated that building the of new comb in the voids (foundation) began in earnest.

    i've seen new white wax for a week or two, that was used to draw out existing comb for nectar storage.

    there was one frame of foundation being drawn that was especially interesting. part of the frame had new comb refashioned from old comb, and part of the frame had new white comb. it was two-toned.

    so leading up to main flow, there is the reworking of old wax, followed by the drawing out and capping of nectar cells with early white wax.

    main flow then, is heralded by the copious drawing of new comb if there are any voids, and massive nectar processing.

    and walt, i think you may be correct that what we are seeing isn't necessarily because that nectar has suddenly become more abundent, but rather the result of that brand new field and house force.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    4,395

    Default Re: Zone 7a - Main flow has arrived

    walt,

    i have had good comb drawing and super filling for the past week or two. the foraging is starting to slow down a bit as some of the nectar producing blooms are finishing, plus we haven't had much rain.

    what are you seeing up your way?

    do you think the delay in spring build up and late swarm issue will result in a shortened main flow?

    if so, the only disappointment i will have is not getting as many new supers drawn out as i would have liked.
    the hives that swarmed on me this year were the one that ran out of comb before new wax. the one's that i had a least three supers of drawn comb didn't swarm, and now have 4-6 supers nearly full.

    any predictions on how much longer before the dearth?
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

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