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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Vancouver BC Canada
    Posts
    43

    Default Beekeeping in the Pacific Northwest, a few questions

    Hi guys,

    I wanted to ask some questions about beekeeping in Pacific Northwest (Vancouver BC, to Portland, Oregon).

    How long does the summer flow last?
    Do we have a fall flow?
    How late is too late to do a split?
    How many lbs of honey do you leave in the hive for overwintering?
    Any Pacific Northwest specifics about overwintering?
    Do you guys deal with varroa naturally or not? Currently I'm trying to regress my bees so that the Varroa can be combated.

    Thanks,
    Vancity

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Camas, WA
    Posts
    1,961

    Default Re: Beekeeping in the Pacific Northwest, a few questions

    Here is my experience:

    It depends on latitude and elevation. The higher and farther north you are the later it lasts. Basically when blackberries are finished blooming around August 1 the honey flow is over.

    I've never had a fall flow, but there seems to be things around allowing them to maintain the populaton and hive weight after blackberries.

    You can do a split with a mated queen into September. If you want them to raise a queen, you probably need to split before mid August and you will need to combine if it fails. Of course if they don't like your new fancy queen and decide to raise their own, you probably should have split in August.

    I leave 5-6 deep frames plus honey in the corners, frame tops etc. for double deep hives. Nucs take less and Carni's can take less. My bees are Italian/Carni mix. This year I was left with a lot of honey in my hives for some reason.

    I don't lose many hives until after Jan.1 and they don't seem to eat until around then. I start watching weight after the first of the year and when they ramp up brood rearing they can use a lot of honey. Most years hives that over winter until April 1 are safe. Except when winter goes to the end of June like the last couple of years.

    I don't treat any hive that had a brood break during the year. If I have a daily mite drop with SBB of more than 40/day I'll probably treat. I'm still experimenting with alcohol wash to determine treatment criteria.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Issaquah,WA,USA
    Posts
    2,426

    Default Re: Beekeeping in the Pacific Northwest, a few questions

    You should be posting on one of these.

    http://orsba.proboards.com/
    http://wabeekeepersforum.proboards.com

    for real local help to you.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Marysville, WA
    Posts
    477

    Default Re: Beekeeping in the Pacific Northwest, a few questions

    I'm further north than beedeetee. Generally speaking (in my area) we have a pretty good blackberry flow from mid/late June through mid/late July. For a couple weeks following that we have a trickle form various things like clover. Early/mid August we get a heavy knotweed flow that will go for about 4 weeks.
    I make my last splits for winter nucs early august from queens I rear in July. I also use these queens to requeen my production hives.
    I winter in 2 deeps and make sure it is full in preperation for winter. I'm not sure of the weight but would guess 60-70 lbs of honey. Most of them won't need any feed in the spring but a some do.
    In my opinion the biggest issue with wintering in the Pac NW is moisture. I tilt the hive forward (to allow water to run out entrance) and use a bottom and top entrance to help with some airflow.
    Mites are one of those issues that you'll see a lot of varieation in how people are handling them. I use formic acid in the fall and if it was an excepted practice I would use oxalic acid in the winter when there was no brood.
    Beekeeper? Shoot, my bees keep me!
    100 hives in Western Wa State

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Clackamas Oregon
    Posts
    788

    Default Re: Beekeeping in the Pacific Northwest, a few questions

    Black berry is the last of the flows here in Portland. Depending on the elevation depends on when it ends. I find at the airport it is 2 weeks before where I am at Boring for only 500 ft. elevation change. My flow is pretty much done but in Sandy (Bull Run Watershed) it is still going strong. Up a couple of thousand feet and it is just starting. If I were on a trailer I could just slide up the mountain and have a longer flow.
    Last year I made up queenless nucs to raise queens (that I split into nucs) on July 22 (I had 3/4 mated, 1 failed in spring). I tried again in Aug 20th and only 1/4 made it through the mild winter. I would say it is still OK to do a split but I am going to start this week for OW nucs.
    “Why do we fall, sir? So that we might learn to pick ourselves up” Alfred Pennyworth Batman Begins (2005)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Skagit, WA, USA
    Posts
    239

    Default Re: Beekeeping in the Pacific Northwest, a few questions

    The comments above did a great summary. Everything for hobbyists here depends on the blackberries. If it's a good spring for flying weather, AND your bees are built up and ready, there is a spring tree flow (esp. Maples). Fall flows are geography dependent of course. I wintered Carnies in the classic double ten frame deep setup, and had tons of unused frames of honey-they just didn't need it with our great Spring weather. I understand it's not uncommon in BC to use single deeps for Carnies. One word of caution: You'll see many posts in January here like "Yippee, my bees made it through winter!". With the Northwest's customary long, wet, Springs, more hives fail in March than any other month, I hear. Prolonged no flying weather for cleansing, pollen washed away by rain, a rapidly expanding brood nest, and more, make late winter/early spring our toughest time. Good luck. BTW I start nucs in mid July, unless made up in May as swarm prevention.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Campbell River, British Columbia Canada
    Posts
    122

    Default Re: Beekeeping in the Pacific Northwest, a few questions

    do bees visit salal in the northwest, it is a similar flower to blue berries and i see bumblebees in it all the time but never really noticed honey bees in it,
    Salal is probably one of the last flowers we have in bloom around here that produces nectar, i with wild daises were full of nectar they never seem to stop blooming.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Camas, WA
    Posts
    1,961

    Default Re: Beekeeping in the Pacific Northwest, a few questions

    Yes, I've seen honey bees on salal, but I don't know how much of a honey plant it is. It's everywhere here at my place and the flowers are not real obvious so you have to look to see if bees are on it sometimes. If it was a good honey producer I would be overflowing with salal honey so I suspect that the bees get a something from it but not enough for an excess.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Campbell River, British Columbia Canada
    Posts
    122

    Default Re: Beekeeping in the Pacific Northwest, a few questions

    it seems to have a lot of nectar in it, the bumblebees spend a lot of time drinking from each flower, and if you pick one and open it up there is a lot of liquid inside and it tastes sugary, I hope they do take it as there is a lot of it around here its probably the most common plant in my area.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Camas, WA
    Posts
    1,961

    Default Re: Beekeeping in the Pacific Northwest, a few questions

    I just went out and looked and our salal has finished for the year. It was probably done a week or two ago since berries have formed all along the flower stem. I could see a few petals stuck to the stem. We still have about 10% blackberry bloom though. My hives are at 1200 feet elevation.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Oak Harbor, WA
    Posts
    317

    Default Re: Beekeeping in the Pacific Northwest, a few questions

    On North Whidbey the blackberries are winding down and I'm seeing the bees forage on things they were ignoring previously, like clover and Canadian thistle.

    Not a lot of pollen coming in to the hives either. I've had to add pollen supplement to one of the hives as my new queen started laying but I saw only a trace of pollen in the hive (this is the hive that swarmed right at the beginning of the blackberry flow) ....the other hive has lots of pollen.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Clackamas Oregon
    Posts
    788

    Default Re: Beekeeping in the Pacific Northwest, a few questions

    I have a couple of hives I set up for an older couple east of here about 10 miles east of me. My blackberries are done here but still going OK.
    There are cultivated blackberry fields within a ½ mile of my hives with the center strips now look like ‘the yellow brick road’. I always figured them to be dandelions but now being an anal beek I looked it up and found that they are Hieracium or Hawkweed. I am going to leave my supers on in that yard and take my chances of them pulling it all back down. The bees seem to work the clover before the hawkweed.
    “Why do we fall, sir? So that we might learn to pick ourselves up” Alfred Pennyworth Batman Begins (2005)

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