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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Greece, NY, USA
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    18

    Default Western NY bees not drawing out supers - what's up with that?

    About 3 weeks ago, I put a super on each of my first year hives. Kept checking weekly to see if they would draw them out, and about 1 week ago, I put an excluder on the hive that had about 1/3 of the comb on each frame drawn out (probably should've waited). This morning, I went to check on the hive that I did not add an excluder to, and it's still the same - as if they are ignoring the super.

    So, I checked the other hive with the excluder, and found the same thing - no progress, so I removed the excluder. There seems to be plenty of pollen coming into the hive and I've seen lots of flowers in bloom nearby (goldenrod just started 1 week ago or so). In late July, before I added the supers, I thought for sure they would run out of space and swarm, since they were putting away lots of honey in the deeps, but I'm wondering - am I in a dearth? BTW, I checked the top deep in the hive without the excluder and found lots of capped brood, larvae, and eggs.

    I can't put a frame with honey in it either super, since those frames are all deeps (the top deep), and I'm wondering what else to do besides a) be patient, b) use lemon grass oil, or c) start feeding, so they have enough for the winter.

    When my wife and I had hives in the country 7 years ago, I don't remember needing to coerce or convince the bees.

    Thanks,
    Jim

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Simpsonville Ky USA
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Western NY bees not drawing out supers - what's up with that?

    I had one hive that did the same thing. It took weeks for them go begin drawing comb. I ,too, removed the Queen excluder. They are doing fine now but certainly behind my other hives.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Delhi, New York, USA
    Posts
    350

    Default Re: Western NY bees not drawing out supers - what's up with that?

    I don't know if I can help or not...I live in western Catskills and the same thing happened to me, harvested some spring honey and was waiting for more frames to be capped...went in and found most of the honey in my medium supers gone. Evn though there was some blooming we have been in a dearth so I started feeding 1:1 about two weeks ago and they are still taking it. Lots of pollen (and nectar I think, they look a little heavy). I have 3 hives, new this year. And I didn't use an excluder on them but probably will next year.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,794

    Default Re: Western NY bees not drawing out supers - what's up with that?

    The bees won't draw comb if they don't anticipate needing the space. Around here it is rare to get surplus honey from a first year colony. I've never had luck with excluders. And I certainly do not use them when trying to get comb drawn. Sorry to be a downer - store the supers for winter and put them back on next spring.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    26,743

    Default Re: Western NY bees not drawing out supers - what's up with that?

    Jim,
    A nectar flow would help. From what I have seen in my bees and from what I have heard from others in other parts of NY we are in a derth period. No nectar coming in.

    Maybe if you fed syrup you might get some foundation drawn. But, w/ current conditions, you might set off robbing too.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Springfield, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    451

    Default Re: Western NY bees not drawing out supers - what's up with that?

    My two cents as a first year beek: My hives quickly built up two deeps each, from foundation. I then gave each a medium on top of a QE, but they did not draw any additional comb. The QE was removed after those two weeks but the mediums were left in place. Now, after 2 months, they are finally working on those medium frames.

    In hindsight, the mediums were put on after the spring flow. I imagine this is why they did not draw them.
    Pete. New 2013, 7 hives, zone 6a
    To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Santa Rosa, CA
    Posts
    53

    Default Re: Western NY bees not drawing out supers - what's up with that?

    In my experience, in order to get a fall honey crop, you must have drawn combs to give them to store it in. They won't usually draw foundation, then store honey this late in the year. They are naturally programmed to draw foundation in the spring, as a new colony, and that is the time to capitalize on getting as much drawn as you can. Even if it means feeding them to get it drawn (in the spring). You can go ahead and leave them an empty super in hopes that they can do something with it from the goldenrod, but don't get your hopes up too high.

    BTW, you can put a shorter frame of honey into your deep box, just don't leave it there all year. Since they aren't drawing much comb right now, they probably won't add comb to the bottom of it for quite a while. So don't hesitate to give them the wrong sized frame if you believe they really need it.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Salem, Indiana, USA
    Posts
    55

    Default Re: Western NY bees not drawing out supers - what's up with that?

    My first year hives were doing the same thing on new foundation in the top box. I gave them old foundation in the bottom box and I started feeding them as much as they will take often as much as a gallon of syrup per week per hive. I also had plastic foundation from Mann Lake in the boxes and read on here where several people were recoating with new wax. I tried it and the last time I checked, they had drawn out 5 frames of nice white comb. The frames I didn't recoat was still untouched. I have since recoated all the frames and continuing to feed heavily. I hope they will fill both brood boxes by late September. I doubt that supers will be needed this year and queen excluders I don't usually put on at all. Good Luck, John

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    rensselaer, ny, USA
    Posts
    485

    Default Re: Western NY bees not drawing out supers - what's up with that?

    I am a new beekeeper in northeastern NY and have three hives from swarm cutouts done in late June. They had various (mis)adventures with their queens but eventually they got themselves squared away.

    They had between 5 - 14 deep frames of brood and/or honey tied-in with the cutout. But they didn't do much for the first month (through first 3 weeks of July) except reorganize and tidy up (including drawing comb to stabilize the messy tied-in pieces).

    I started feeding 1:1 sugar syrup on July 30. At first they barely took a pint/day/hive, but they're more than triple that by now. Finally, they are drawing some new, white comb, in the supers and deeps though not as much as I had hoped. Reportedly other local bees are loafing, and in modest dearths in other yards than mine, too. I feel a bit abashed to report that my girls aren't taking up the 3-4 qts/day/hive that others are, but I feed them all they want/take.

    Our goldenrod should be good this fall as we had an extraordinarily wet spring resulting lush top-growth on it. The weather has been drier lately, but not enough to impair the nectar in the goldenrod, as happened last year due to the extraordinarily long, dry and scorching summer of 2012. (Hey, it's always something!) The goldenrod is just starting here, no asters, yet.

    My girls are hauling in pollen all day long, I've got some good brood, low mites, etc. so I'm hoping that they will have enough to get themselves prepared for winter. I'll feed as long, and as much, as I have to this year. I wasn't planning on taking any honey, anyway. As a new beekeeper, I was really startled by the notion of feeding refined sugar to them, but I'm over that by now.

    This is my very first summer of keeping bees, so it's ALL new to (impatient) me. I find it comforting to talk to people who have been at it awhile. I think keeping hives teaches patience and humility, at least it does for me.

    Hoping your girls are just on the brink and you have a lovely long fall nectar season.

    Enj.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Western NY bees not drawing out supers - what's up with that?

    Quote Originally Posted by enjambres View Post
    Our goldenrod should be good this fall as we had an extraordinarily wet spring resulting lush top-growth on it. The weather has been drier lately, but not enough to impair the nectar in the goldenrod, as happened last year due to the extraordinarily long, dry and scorching summer of 2012.
    You may be right about that. I hope so. I've been at this a little longer than you and haven't seen the corrolation between certain weather occurances and subsequent nectar flows or lack of flows.

    A cpl years ago we had a horrible basswood/locust/clover season followed by a month of rain. I thought that was great. That there would be plenty of water in the ground that would come up through the goldenrod and produce a great goldenrod crop. It didn't.

    So, mostly I don't know why we get what we get, good or bad. But if you do, that's fine. I hope you are right.

    One thing we can do as beekeepers to get a good crop of honey is to maintain strong colonies. Get them to build up in anticipation of the coming flows, if they come.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    rensselaer, ny, USA
    Posts
    485

    Default Re: Western NY bees not drawing out supers - what's up with that?

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    You may be right about that. I hope so. I've been at this a little longer than you and haven't seen the corrolation between certain weather occurances and subsequent nectar flows or lack of flows.

    .

    No question that I am new to beekeeping, but I am a professional horticulturist and lifelong amateur botanist. And I do think that for plants some types of weather (both in the recent past and in the moment) can produce predictable levels of flowering and therefore pollen and nectar production, which is what beeekeepers care about.

    In the case of this year's goldenrod, at least where I am in northeastern NY, we had a remarkably wet May- June period this year, during an otherwise warm and adequately sunny spring. Our past winter was cold, but not unseasonable after an extraordinarily hot and dry summer of 2012.

    Goldenrod, a perennial plant, was stunted in its growth last year by the summer heat and drought. It was both shorter and therefore also likely (though I wasn't looking particularly at this facet last year) had shorter "arms" to its flower head, which would reduce the number of individual flowers.

    The very unusual drought which was still in full force during the blooming of golderod last year, also probably reduced the nectar the plants produced since they were on the verge of wilting most of the time after weeks and weeks of heat and no rain.

    This may also have affected the survival of new plants germinating from the seed crop of 2011, the production of seed from 2012, in addition to weakening the existing plants.

    The late fall and winter saw a return to normal rain and temps, with good snow cover, factors which would all be restorative to the surviving plants and good for germinating any seed that matured and fell to the ground.

    Then came this spring. It was warm a bit earlier than historically "normal", but not catastrophically so like the previous year. We had a few notably frosty nights in May - which is normal here. But the most critical thing was the rain interspersed with warm, sunny days. It wasn't cool and wet here, it was warm and wet. All of which provides excellent growth potential for a perennial plant like goldenrod which aises from semi-permanent rhizomes. Although we have returned to seasonably normal rainfall, with slightly above normal temps, there has not been any serious check to the growth of herbaceous plants this year.

    Therefore in my area, the goldenrod is looking above average in height, with a larger infloresence just unfolding and barely starting to come into color. This predicts more individual florets, each one presumably a source of pollen and nectar.

    If, and this is where things do get somewhat shaky, the weather continues to hold at goldenrod-nectar favorable levels. But goldenrod bloom is only a 3-5 week period (the individual plants don't bloom for that long, but plants in various microclimes bloom at somewhat different points during the overall blooming period), so it would take some huge event (major hurricane-produced wind and downpours would be likeliest one at this yime of year) to cause much damage to it at this point.

    So that's the reason I am reasonably hopeful for an expected satisfactory to-above average goldenrod flow for my bees.

    Goldenrod is a plant with many geographically distinct species across the US. Each one no doubt locally adapted and also somewhat different its response to different weather patterns. But I think you can't go far wrong in studying what's local and attending closely to what weather you have had - and are having - in trying to understand what flowering and nectar you can expect in the new few weeks.

    Just like with bees, though, just paying attention is only half the story. Good records, kept conscientiously for any particular spot are what will sharpen and refine your understanding of what's happening. I have farmed here for a quarter century. I get up every morning and record the previous days' climate data, and compare it my own long-term records and regional Weather Service data. This is critical to me, not just for my new bees, but for my veggies and fruits and grains. And I carefully watch some wild plants to make sure what I think is happening, really is happening. (I do that because most of my crop plants are only a few months in cycle, so not as reliable indicators of longer trends that still may be important to note.)

    I could certainly be wrong about my botanical understanding of goldenrod's phsyiological response to the season's characteristics. I could certainly be surprised by unexpected events. I could certainly be wrong in my understanding of how satisfactory the bees will find the nectar flow from the goldenrod.

    But I am pretty confident that what I see here: quite healthy and well-sized top growth expanding to large arms (a descriptive term, but not technical botany-speak) of fat buds, with normal soil moisture and temps all of which augurs well for a good flow.

    Your local results may vary of course. But just as plants need bees, so do bees need plants and what factors affect plants, also affect bees in ways that aren't separable. In my area, I think last summer's awful, catastrophic heat and drought contributed to the unusually large winter bee losses.

    So it's also important to pay attention to what's been happening over the previous seasons. Weather is what you dress for, but climate (and deviations from its norms) is what you plan for, I think.

    Enj.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    26,743

    Default Re: Western NY bees not drawing out supers - what's up with that?

    I am in the Northwest part of The North Country of NY, St Lawrence County. I hope your predictions are correct. Let's keep in touch and exchange production data from goldenrod.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Jamesville, NY
    Posts
    252

    Default Re: Western NY bees not drawing out supers - what's up with that?

    I hope you are right too. My anecdotal experience so far has been that many crop's yields on my property are much smaller this year than previous. One observation I had the other day was, while this had been a great year for larger growth (trees), it seems like things like tomatoes and peppers have been lacking (and many other smaller plants). While the smaller plants have been growing large in size the yield is generally down. I still haven't had my first run of tomatoes and they already are taking on a more tough skin like they usually do have I have had several runs of tomatoes (usually right about this time of the year I am sick of tomatoes ). Just the same those plants are nearly 6 foot tall. I am starting to think much of the energy they take in is going to the plant and not the fruit.

    I am sure a cool wet summer played into a lot of the weak tomato crop, slow start up in general for many plants. Let's hope we finish strong!

    All that said, cucumbers and beans and several other crops have been very good.

    I am really counting on goldenrod though, as it will allow two hives to build up needed stores and the other two to give me a little honey.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    26,743

    Default Re: Western NY bees not drawing out supers - what's up with that?

    For some reason our 15 year old Macintosh apple tree has apples on it this year. Never pruned or sprayed and usually what apples that do show up crumple up and rot on the tree.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

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