Re: "lier or a fool"
mike palmer said:
>>In fact, a strong colony on a strong flow with no overhead nectar storage will swarm. It doesn't matter if it's May, June, July, or August.<<
thanks for replying michael, and let me start here by saying that my few years of experience pales in comparison to your life long career with bees. i would also like express thanks for your 'sustainable apiary' talks and posts here, which have inspired me to raise queens and overwinter nucs.
but with regard to reproductive cut off and whether or not all you need is a strong hive on a strong flow with no overhead storage to get swarming...
i have been keeping careful records for most of my 3+ years of beekeeping. when i look back to when in the season i experienced swarming it was not spread out over three to four months but rather three to four weeks in the early part of the season, with no swarms after that except a few really small ones in the fall.
more interestingly, swarms are issuing prior to what would be considered our 'main flow', which coincides with the tulip poplar bloom and is evidenced by very strong foraging and new wax production. swarms are issuing well before the colonies get to full strength and nectar availability peaks.
with regard to the availability of empty comb overhead, i had several colonies swarm this year after stopping their expansion upward even though there were supers of empty drawn comb for them to store nectar in. these colonies stopped at a functional break between boxes and created a solid honey dome on the early flows and went on to swarm.
i realize that i am only observing a dozen or so colonies and i concede that what i am seeing could be do to chance, and maybe it's a matter of location because i live relatively close to walt, but my observations are similar to his.
i.e. my bees are swarming before the heaviest flows, all within a pretty tight time frame, and the ones that don't swarm at that time don't swarm. they tend to supercede instead and fill many more boxes with bees and honey.
oldtimer describes a similar timeline in another thread, in which his bees are swarming prior to the heaviest flows. he is also is a milder climate similar to what we have here in the southeast.
my thinking is that checkerboarding the supers is one way to discourage the bees from establishing an upper limit to their working level. i'm leaving more honey this year, and i suspect that having some honey frames in the upper boxes will help draw the bees up into them. if it doesn't, and they get 'stuck' at a break, i'll move up a couple of frames they are working to the next box.
as i said michael, i have a lot of respect for you and the other veterans who are kind enough to share their experiences here. walt goes out of his way in his writings to say that his interpretation of his observations are only just his best guess, and he has openly welcomed competing hypotheses.
it comes as no surprise to me that observations and interpretations vary from place to place and from beekeeper to beekeeper. indeed, for me it's what makes all of this so interesting.
beekeeping since june 2010, +/- 20 hives, tf