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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    fairfield, sc
    Posts
    129

    Question Overwintering and surplus concerns ?

    Hello all.
    This is my first over winter and so far I have managed to maintain my 3 out of 4 hives - and feel fortunate about that. I've spot checked the 3 hives over the last couple of weeks whenever we've had some 55+ degree days and have noticed that there still seems to be a lot of honey stores left - meaning 4 to 5 frames in 1 hive, 3 to 4 in another, and 4+ in 1 hive. Although this is still good news as 'ol man winter' isn't done with us here in SC - but my concern is that I've also noticed a lot of pollen being brought into the hives and am getting concerned about their 'space management' and don't want them to get the idea that they need to swarm because of all the honey still stored, pollen coming in - and the queen getting ramped up for spring w/o any space to lay. I've read here, and other places that usually swarming is caused by 'lack of space' for the queen to lay, and this could be caused by a number of factors - some of what I've mentioned above. I will be going into the hives in a couple of days as we have 70+ degree days to get a better idea of what's going on with their brood patterns and honey stores along with pollen averages per hive. Of the 3 hives, I know that my 'angry' hive is pretty much full and I probably need to add a super on it now - before they get any ideas. The other 2 hives consist of 1 single-deep hive, and a hive with a double-nuc sitting on top.

    My questions and/or concerns are this ..

    how much left over capped honey is too much, if that's any concern, for this time of the year? I realize we still will have some 'cool/cold' nights before march but I don't have any ratio or prior experience to know if this is a problem.

    For example, since I'm using Lang 10-frame hives and I have 6 frames of bees and 3 frames of honey - is this good? Should I have twice as much capped honey "this time of the year" than bees?

    With 3 to 4 days of warm weather (68-75 degree days) forecast and the bees already bringing in some pollen - I expect them to 'explode' over the next couple of days with pollen retrieval.

    I've noticed a lot of dead bees around the hives - but presume this is the winter 'dead out' that I've heard people talking about whereas these are from the 'leftover' wintering bees finally dying out and being replaced. How much new brood should I expect to start seeing now? All my hives were packages last year with the exception of a Nuc, so I don't have any experience with the 'overwintering' thing.

    The local's and local bee club are telling us to start (if need be) feeding 1-1 sugar mixture to the bees in order to help stimulate the queen into lay more - but should I do this as they still have stores in the hives? I don't want the bees to fill the rest of the frames with 1-1 and cause laying issues with the queen either.

    I'm probably making too-much-do about nothing , but am curious what I should actually be expecting to see.. at this time of the year.

    thanks for any suggestions you might have..

    M
    Last edited by seapro220; 02-17-2014 at 10:12 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    rockmart ga
    Posts
    62

    Default Re: Overwintering and surplus concerns ?

    Seapro220,
    This is my first spring also. I just went thru my three hives, each with a deep brood and a med. super. I was planning on posting the EXACT same questions as you. Each deep with +4 1/2 frames of capped honey (sugar syrup) and some uncapped. Each super has 5 to 6 frames of capped syrup. Not sure what to do with the capped syrup once they start brining in the real stuff.

    Saw eggs and capped brood.

    I thought I might have to feed but for the next several weeks I won't, if they start getting light and they aren't bringing in anything I guess I will.

    I hope someone with a lot more experience will give us rookies some guidance.
    Thanks for beating me to the punch!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    rockmart ga
    Posts
    62

    Default Re: Overwintering and surplus concerns ?

    Me again, should have thought of this earlier.
    I'm planning on steeling frames of eggs/brood from each hive to make a 4th hive. That alone will help a little in swarm prevention. If I have surplus frames of honey I'll move a one or two from each established hive to the new one. That should give the queens even more room to lay and give the split a good kick start.

    Reviewing what I did last year it works pretty good. I started with 2 nucs on April 1. After they took off I took about 5 frames of eggs/capped brood from them. By the end of May I had three full hives.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    fairfield, sc
    Posts
    129

    Default Re: Overwintering and surplus concerns ?

    Thanks r_hayden for your comments, and it seems like others are in the same 'state of mind' as me, being new beeks.

    I've been reading some more and think it's important to have 3-4 frames of (drawn if possible) comb available at this time for the queen to start getting ramped up. I think I have this, and will check this out tomorrow to be sure. I want to be sure there's enough pollen and honey in there so that the 'existing' bees don't start cannibalizing the freshly laid eggs because they are running 'low' in the colder nights and decide the new laid eggs are a 'pollen substitute'.

    I usually move some frames of brood, pollen, and eggs over whenever I start my new hives, as well as whenever I get a nuc started so that it quickly builds up also. I don't have any more queens right now (planning to make some myself this year) to donate the new hives, but will later. After inspection of the hives tomorrow, I think I have a tentative plan ..

    1. put out a 1-1 sugar mixture for them to gather own their own. This should help stimulate the queen, and get them started. I have fully drawn foundation, so no worries there.
    2. possibly add some pollen patties, but know they like natural as opposed to man-made anytime and they are starting to bring in 'natural' now anyway.
    3. for the mega hive - probably add another deep of drawn comb to get them launched. I don't know that I'll add a 'full' box as there's not enough bees to handle that now and don't want to give the SHB a jump start on the hive. I'll probably add 3 to 4 frames of drawn, and see how they do, and move, over the next few days.

    I'm kind of surprised that more people haven't posted anything - but maybe they will.

    take care, and good luck with your hives this year.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    DesAllemands, Lousiana
    Posts
    209

    Default Re: Overwintering and surplus concerns ?

    Seapro220
    It sounds like you have some healthy hives. If they still have a few frames of honey I wouldnt feed. You said you are worrying about them running out of room so why would you add more ammo to the problem. You also said that alot of pollen is coming in, so no need for pollen patties. If you start feeding now to stimulate brood you will have to keep feeding until the first nectar flow. When you stimulate brood rearing they will go through the stores so fast that its possible for them to starve if a nectar flow hasn't started.

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