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  1. #201
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    May 2015
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    Default Re: Riverderwent Survival Treatment Free 2017

    David (and other contributors),

    I stumbled onto this thread yesterday and am really excited about it and extremely appreciative of your taking the time to document your progress and answer the questions on the thread. I'm starting year 3 and really want to work my way towards an approach similar to yours.

    One of the changes we (my dad and I each have hives and are in this together) made last year/this year was to move to all 8 frame mediums so we're already lined up in that regard. We do actually have 2 boxes of deeps still but they'll be phased out as soon as we can.
    Our environment: We are in South Carolina (upstate). Southeastern Mixed Forests according to the Ecoregion map. I'm in the city so a relatively urban area and dad's apiary is rural with minimal farmed land in the area - mainly deciduous forests.
    We also plan to run 3 medium 8 frame boxes for our brood area. We currently have (between us) 4 full hives, 4 healthy nucs, and one captured swarm to be moved into a nuc or 8 frame box in the next week or so (once we know the queen is laying). Most of our colonies are from the two packages I purchased in 2015 and one captured swarm. We treated late Summer 2016 and once in January 2017 using OAV.

    I read the whole thread yesterday and jotted down a few questions (I'm sure the first of many). I'll put them all on one post so as not to create too many sub-threads here.

    Foundationless in brood area - I like the idea of this to allow the bees to determine size, worker/drone, etc. Do you use a starter strip for new foundationless frames? Would the best method for me to introduce foundationless be to put foundationless frames between existing/drawn frames?

    Leaving honey on as opposed to feeding - Do you simply leave any honey that's below the QE in place or might frames from the supers be left in place depending on needs?

    Pods of hives - One aspect of a treatment free plan we have in mind is "pods" of hives as opposed to large quantities directly beside each other. We are thinking of limiting each pod to maybe 2 hives and 1 nuc (or thereabouts) and having the pods at least 20 yards apart. The two benefits we envision are 1) the spread of "stuff" would be limited; and 2) this will hopefully mimic the natural distribution of colonies a bit. Overall drift should be limited as well. Is that something you've considered - or even have experiences to share? We know it will make management a little more difficult but we're OK with that investment.

    Brood break - It seems from my reading and attended lectures that a definitive brood break can benefit a colony's health. I saw mention in one of your posts of the OTS method for queen rearing - I assume the notching aspect. Are you doing definitive brood breaks in all colonies? It sounds like that's not the case but am curious of your thoughts on it.

  2. #202
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    May 2013
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    Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
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    Default Re: Riverderwent Survival Treatment Free 2017

    Matt, I may answer a couple of questions at a time.
    Do you use a starter strip for new foundationless frames?
    I use mostly foundationless in the brood area and wood frames with plastic foundation in the honey supers. My foundationless frames are mostly Kelley foundationless frames which have a V-shaped piece of wood at the top as a comb guide. I do have a few frames here and there with a thin piece of wood glued in the notch in the top bar that serves as the comb guide. I don't use plastic or wax starter strips embossed with cell design.

    Would the best method for me to introduce foundationless be to put foundationless frames between existing/drawn frames?
    If you put a foundationless frame between (or next to) frames of uncapped nectar, you are likely to end up with wonky comb. This is because the bees may draw out wide frames of honey which messes up the spacing. I generally either put several frames of undrawn foundationless together in the brood area (as in when starting a nuc) or work them in individually between frames of drawn comb in the brood area. Once the foundationless frames are drawn, you can use them as needed in the brood boxes.
    David
    "Performance speaks louder than math." Michael Palmer

  3. #203
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    May 2013
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    Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
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    Default Re: Riverderwent Survival Treatment Free 2017

    Leaving honey on as opposed to feeding - Do you simply leave any honey that's below the QE in place or might frames from the supers be left in place depending on needs?
    I use all eight frame medium boxes. When the weather warms up, I put a queen excluder on top of the third box, and I don't harvest from the bottom three boxes. My last harvest or "honey pull" is around All Saints Day. At that time, I pull the excluders off. With hives with particularly large bee populations, I will leave a fourth box with uncapped nectar if it's available or, if it's not, just wet supers after they are extracted, which the bees will fill if there is nectar available. I will move honey from healthy hives as needed for late starts or other hives that need it. I only harvest what the bees don't need. Other than sharing honey from healthy hives, I don't feed. No syrup.
    David
    "Performance speaks louder than math." Michael Palmer

  4. #204
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    Feb 2015
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    Rosebud Missouri
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    1,700

    Default Re: Riverderwent Survival Treatment Free 2017

    River
    Have the bees already back filled the brood nest a little by nov 1st? When do you quit putting on supers. I have never been though this part of bee keeping. I thought most here sorta pulled thier honey in july and august and except for cleaning of the wet supers, they left them off so the bees put the fall flow into the brood nest. I may not even understand what I just said. Then they watch for weight around the end of sept and make any adjustments before oct. We are colder but I am wondering myself on how to handle the winter brood nest weight and how much honey to take. When the bees start brooding down and the population drops, do they start filling the brood nest even if they have room to put honey in supers.

    I would thank you for any tid bit you can give me on what bees do and what that means to me.
    Thank you.
    gww
    zone 5b

  5. #205
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    May 2013
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    Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
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    Default Re: Riverderwent Survival Treatment Free 2017

    We are thinking of limiting each pod to maybe 2 hives and 1 nuc (or thereabouts) and having the pods at least 20 yards apart. The two benefits we envision are 1) the spread of "stuff" would be limited; and 2) this will hopefully mimic the natural distribution of colonies a bit. Overall drift should be limited as well. Is that something you've considered - or even have experiences to share?
    We currently keep 3 yards with 10 to 20 hives each. The hives are placed within a couple of feet of each other. We have a fourth yard with two hives in a less productive area. What you are proposing makes sense from the standpoint of avoiding drifting of bees and horizontal transfer of varroa.

    By the way, Matt, I'm flattered that you have asked me these questions. Beekeeping involves a lot of moving parts that need to fit together to make a productive system. There are a lot of variables that are location and beekeeper driven. Different folks' situations will lead to different solutions. Take what works for you from different people.
    David
    "Performance speaks louder than math." Michael Palmer

  6. #206
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    May 2015
    Location
    Greenville, SC USA
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    319

    Default Re: Riverderwent Survival Treatment Free 2017

    Thanks for the answers (and words of encouragement), David.

    I'm keen to hear your thoughts on the brood break. Mel D. has some math and charts to support his theory that the brood break (properly timed) is essential for combating mites. But it doesn't see, you adhere Tom such a stringent schedule on it - or I missed that in the thread.

  7. #207
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    Mar 2015
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    Kamloops, BC, Canada
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    989

    Default Re: Riverderwent Survival Treatment Free 2017

    I would like to hear more about the successes/failures of those who use Mel's methods.

    One aspect of TF beekeeping is that we would like the bees to do most of the work re brood breaks. For instance SP believes he has bees that brood break naturally during his dearth, no manipulation required. There are probably other mechanisms at play as to why some bees are successful without treatment while others fail. So the hard core TF crowd don't do any manipulation re pest control because they want to unearth the genetics and various mechanisms that can do this on its own. We don't actually know with certainty what makes for a successful TF bee, we have some ideas, so we let nature take it course and see what comes up. I'm currently in the hard bond group, with an expanding apiary so far. It can be a bit brutal, but is probably the shortest path to tough bees. However, it seems like TF success is highly regional. Some areas have massive amounts of bee movement that probably make the disease environment chaotic, making it difficult for bees to adapt. So in these areas, it may be necessary to step away from the hard bond methodology.

    My path has been to start off hard bond, make as many nucs as possible, and see if I have successful, productive hives that can make it 2 plus winters. If I didn't have success, I would gradually step away from hard bond methodology. I have had quite a bit of death in my second year hives, but I believe some cream has risen to the top and I may have identified some promising genetics. Since I have more hives every year, I am sticking to the hard bond process. Meanwhile I am learning to bee keep as well. How much death is due to my own incompetence?

    I am making one major change this year. I will be putting robbing screens on during the dearth. This is about the time when some colonies begin to fail. I want to reduce mite/virus transference and not put decent colonies under any more stress than they have, and it may be useful to reduce local viral virulence.

  8. #208
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    Jul 2015
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    Germany, BW
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    Default Re: Riverderwent Survival Treatment Free 2017

    Great post, Iharder.
    Listen to good advice, then.... make your own decision. fusion_power
    www.vivabiene.de

  9. #209
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    Jun 2016
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    west central Arkansas
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    Default Re: Riverderwent Survival Treatment Free 2017

    Very refreshing thread full of great info. Thanks David for creating it and to everyone else who has contributed. I'd like nominate this thread for sticky status if any mods are listenining.

  10. #210
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    west central Arkansas
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    Default Re: Riverderwent Survival Treatment Free 2017

    Ask and you shall receive. Thanks SP I'm guessing.

  11. #211
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    May 2009
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    Canterbry, UK
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    2,327

    Default Re: Riverderwent Survival Treatment Free 2017

    Quote Originally Posted by Riverderwent View Post
    There is a technique to getting the bees and the frames into a box without crushing the queen or getting her on the wrong side of the queen excluder. I just don't know what that technique is. I would welcome guidance.
    Great thread David, thank you.

    I drop swarms (or tempt/drive them if they are on walls) into 6 frame nucs, then quickly put them on the ground and drop in mostly starter strip frames or sometimes shallow frames. (I'm not fussed about having them build on the bottom of shallow frames - they seem to make it all work just as well.) If any frames are riding on the bees I let them settle in of their own accord. This might mean only having 5 frames instead of the full 6. I pop a cover on, brushing away any bees that are sitting where they'd be squashed, pop a strap round, and try to put the nuc near the spot they came from - often on a stool or ladder. If I'm a way from home I'll wait around till most are in then snap the door shut and I'm away. Nearer home I might leave them till after nightfall or ask the homeowner to close the door after dark and fetch them in the morning.

    One more thing: I slip a coin under each corner for ventilation, or, if its a big swarm, fetch a vented cover (which I try to carry)

    Back at the yard they go straight on a stand; I open the door and its nearly job done. If they had only five frames I leave a brick upright on top, meaning 'do something' and next time I see it I remember to pop that last frame in and maybe add an eke and feed. If they are a large swarm I might add a (nuc) deep. I don't use queen excluders.

    I caught my first swarm of the year in a bait hive last Wednesday. Or rather my friend did - he let me put a bait hive in his garden to try to catch bees, then his missus thought bees in the garden would be nice - and now they're their bees!

    Mike (UK)
    The race isn't always to the swift, nor the fight to the strong, but that's the way to bet

  12. #212
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    May 2013
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    Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
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    Default Re: Riverderwent Survival Treatment Free 2017

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt_inSC View Post
    Brood break - It seems from my reading and attended lectures that a definitive brood break can benefit a colony's health. I saw mention in one of your posts of the OTS method for queen rearing - I assume the notching aspect. Are you doing definitive brood breaks in all colonies? It sounds like that's not the case but am curious of your thoughts on it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Matt_inSC View Post
    I'm keen to hear your thoughts on the brood break. Mel D. has some math and charts to support his theory that the brood break (properly timed) is essential for combating mites. But it doesn't see, you adhere Tom such a stringent schedule on it - or I missed that in the thread.
    Quote Originally Posted by lharder View Post
    One aspect of TF beekeeping is that we would like the bees to do most of the work re brood breaks. For instance SP believes he has bees that brood break naturally during his dearth, no manipulation required.
    I am going to ramble about this. So if you don't want to see rambling, don't read this. Vitellogenin is a compound with a lot of protein, some fat, and a little sugar. It is a precursor of the protein in egg yolk. Worker bees produce vitellogenin but, since they are (mostly) sterile, they don't use it for egg production. Instead, they use it to feed larvae. If there are no larvae to feed, the bees get high levels of vitellogenin. They feed it to other adult bees and store it in fat bodies in their abdomen and head. These high levels of vitellogenin cause the bees to live longer and help with disease resistance at the cell level. That's what the folks with the microscope say, anyway.

    Varroa largely feed on, guess what, vitellogenin. So, not only do they vector viruses to bees, they take the very stuff that helps the bees, particularly winter bees, live longer and fight disease.

    Varroa can only breed in capped brood cells. So if there is a brood break, two things happen simultaneously. First, varroa stop breeding so their population begins decreasing. Second, the bees' vitellogenin levels begin to increase which causes the existing bees to live longer and have more immunity.

    What's all this got to do with Mel Disselkoen? The toughest thing about Mel, as we all know, is spelling his last name. He is a rock star on queen breeding curves, summer solstices, and how (and why) to notch the bottom wall of 24 hour old larvae. He wrote the book on OTS, and I haven't read it. Literally.

    Mel lives in the north, meaning, of course, north of Jackson, Mississippi. Way up yonder, y’all have nectar flows like a big sparkler. They go on and on. Down heah, our flows are like bottle rockets. There’s a fizz, a flash, and a pop, and they are gone. We have a summer dearth that starts July 4th and ends September somethingth.

    If you raise your fancy, high born, bona fide, Italian bees down here, they don’t care about summer dearths. They’ll raise brood with abandon, particularly if there’s a can of corn syrup dripping on their head. Unless someone does a little On The Spot queennapping, they will raise brood till the cows, and the varroa, come home. Or till they run out of honey, pollen, and vitellogenin. Lots of bees and lots of brood. However, if you raise frugal, locally adapted, backwoods, feral, cur Apis muttus bees, they will breed up for flows and, unless you feed them, they will tend to shut the brood spigot off at the street during the dearth. Even with honey in the hive. Lots of bees, but un-lots of brood.

    If you have a summer dearth, and if you have locally adapted, frugal bees, and if you don’t feed them during the summer dearth, they will breed down and hang on to their vitellogenin. But that’s a lot of if’s. With Mel’s OTS system, you are manufacturing a brood break while a flow is still going if you are in an area with more or less continuous summer flows. The timing of that brood break may need to be varied depending on location, flows, weather, and bee breed. (But I’d listen to Mr. Dissellkoen about that; like I said, he’s a rock star.) My caution would be that if the brood break is timed to be most advantageous in connection with nectar gathering, you may not have the best timing for varroa.

    Some areas may be fortunate in that the local dearths may be naturally timed well in connection with brood breaks and mites. And, let me get my foil hat adjusted, feral and untreated, managed bees may also be naturally selecting for bees that tweak their their brood rearing reaction to flow breaks to the best advantage in connection with varroa.

    There is a rather obvious downside to bees not breeding. The bee population begins decreasing. This is where understanding the overlay of varroa mites' life cycle with bees' life cycle is important to understanding how brood breaks actually affect the ratio of the populations of bees and mites in the hive. And guess what. I can't explain it because I don't understand it. Big letdown, right? Give me a break. I'm just one little beekeeper in one little corner of one little state. But I "believe" (there, I said it) that in a head to head contest a big fat, long lived, disease resistant, vitellogenin rich worker bee with no brood to feed will outlive a little pinhead mite. Particularly if the bees are offering free, but overly aggressive pedicures to their phoretic cohabitants. Otherwise, the charts of mite infestation rates wouldn't always start at low levels on January 1st, now would they. See there.

    On notching, I don't routinely requeen hives so I don't need a lot of queens. Notching lets me get queen cells going on a couple of different frames in a single hive. I can pull each frame, put it in its own new nuc; no muss, no fuss. It’s just a handy way to make a handful of nucs from each of a handful of good queens.
    Last edited by Riverderwent; 04-23-2017 at 06:53 PM.
    David
    "Performance speaks louder than math." Michael Palmer

  13. #213
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    7,831

    Default Re: Riverderwent Survival Treatment Free 2017

    yep. dern good synopsis there david.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  14. #214
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    Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
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    Default Re: Riverderwent Survival Treatment Free 2017

    Quote Originally Posted by gww View Post
    Have the bees already back filled the brood nest a little by nov 1st? When do you quit putting on supers. I have never been though this part of bee keeping. I thought most here sorta pulled thier honey in july and august and except for cleaning of the wet supers, they left them off so the bees put the fall flow into the brood nest. I may not even understand what I just said. Then they watch for weight around the end of sept and make any adjustments before oct. We are colder but I am wondering myself on how to handle the winter brood nest weight and how much honey to take. When the bees start brooding down and the population drops, do they start filling the brood nest even if they have room to put honey in supers.
    In simple terms, your bees are either frugal like Carniolans or relentless brooders like Italians, or somewhere in between. Try to find an experienced beekeeper in your general area who will give you a general idea about how much stores honey bees ought to have to overwinter where you live and what size or configuration of boxes to use. When you get to know your bees and your nectar flows, you'll be able to adjust that number. What you actually will need will vary from year to year.

    Depending on the year, my hives may lose more weight in August than they do in January. I dont harvest below the top of the third box. (I use eight frame medium boxes.) Everything below that is theirs, whether it's May or October. Most of my hives go into winter with three full, backfilled boxes. Some boomers will have a fourth box. That's about the same as 1 to 2 ten frame deeps. If there are enough bees in the hive to control the space of three boxes, then I will make sure that they end up with three boxes. Where you are, with my local, feral bees, I'd feel good about two full ten frame deep boxes or four of my eight frame mediums. I wouldn't take any honey from below that till I got to know my bees and the local flows, and anything capped above that would be in a bottle in the cabinet.

    They are just bugs. You're going to be okay. You will make some mistakes. There are no short cuts. Use feral survivors or treat for varroa till you can get feral survivors. If the back of your hive feels heavy when you lift it, you're good. If it doesn't, fix it. Figure out how much you want your bees to have on December 1st, and don't take honey below that line except in odd numbered leap years.
    Last edited by Riverderwent; 04-24-2017 at 07:00 PM.
    David
    "Performance speaks louder than math." Michael Palmer

  15. #215
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    Apr 2016
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    Dutchtown,Louisiana,USA
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    348

    Default Re: Riverderwent Survival Treatment Free 2017

    I am going to ramble about this

    Quite the impressive ramble, thanks

  16. #216
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    May 2013
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    Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
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    Default Re: Riverderwent Survival Treatment Free 2017

    Quote Originally Posted by Nordak View Post
    I'd like nominate this thread for sticky status if any mods are listenining.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nordak View Post
    Ask and you shall receive. Thanks SP I'm guessing.
    I'd like to thank the Academy. You like me; you really like me. Obviously, the standard for stickies has sunk too low. Something must be done.
    Last edited by Riverderwent; 04-24-2017 at 08:37 PM.
    David
    "Performance speaks louder than math." Michael Palmer

  17. #217
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    May 2013
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    Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
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    Default Re: Riverderwent Survival Treatment Free 2017

    Mike, thank you for the guidance.
    David
    "Performance speaks louder than math." Michael Palmer

  18. #218
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
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    Germany, BW
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    933

    Default Re: Riverderwent Survival Treatment Free 2017

    Apis muttus
    Listen to good advice, then.... make your own decision. fusion_power
    www.vivabiene.de

  19. #219
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
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    Rosebud Missouri
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    1,700

    Default Re: Riverderwent Survival Treatment Free 2017

    River
    Thanks for taking on my question, I use 10 frame mediums for the brood boxes and go for three. You mentioned harvest in nov and so I was just trying to figure if I still had supers on by then if all thier stores would be in the supers or if the super was capped, this would mean the brood nest was full when I pulled that super. I actually started another thread on just that question.

    I have no ideal what my bees are but I would say they are mutts from the local area. I got two of them from three swarms. I have not treated yet and nothing has died yet though I have had one swarm and had to split due to queen cups in another one. Nothing is dieing yet "knock on wood". Of course swarms could come from somebody elses bought hives.

    I guess I will keep doing as I am and ask a lot of questions and then play it by ear.

    Thanks
    gww
    zone 5b

  20. #220
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    Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
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    Default Re: Riverderwent Survival Treatment Free 2017

    Quote Originally Posted by gww View Post
    You mentioned harvest in nov and so I was just trying to figure if I still had supers on by then if all thier stores would be in the supers or if the super was capped, this would mean the brood nest was full when I pulled that super.
    That is a great question, undeserving of this pale response. If a beekeeper harvested all the supers after the flow was over but before the brood nest had contracted for winter and the brood space had been backfilled, that would leave all concerned in a pickle.

    We interrupt this post for a public service announcement about hive tipping. I'm pretty good about lifting the back of my hives a couple of inches when I’m in the beeyard. I tip (or pick up) starter nucs and full hives. I tip in the spring, fall, and winter. I’ve tipped sometimes even when I'm about to go through a hive or have just gone through it. When I first started tipping hives, I didn’t know what was normal and what was off, but I’ve slowly come to recognize when something’s up, or down, as it were. Now back to your regular programming.

    I’m not the best authority on fall brood population curves. In fact, I’m leery of pawing around in the brood chamber even when I have a good reason and when there are plenty of drones around to fix my mistakes, let alone in the fall when I’m not concerned about swarming and there are few drones around to help replace the matron. Also, I don’t really know whether the reduction in egg laying causes backfilling or backfilling causes the reduction in egg laying or even whether that matters for these purposes.

    But within the limits of my limited skills, by November 1st, the frugal, hometown girls who keep me have pretty well corralled her highness and backfilled the bottom three boxes with winter stores. With the approach I use, and particularly with not feeding, the danger is not harvesting too late, when the bees have already backfilled the area that I’m not going into anyway. But rather, the danger is harvesting too early, when their winter pantry would still be full of brood, not honey, and they would be left to the whims of an alliterative but fickle fall flow for their backfilling. Having said that, being a highly skilled hive tipper and looker down in between the frames’er, when I pull off the supers around November 1st, I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I’m leaving the ladies. Now, what was it you asked?
    Last edited by Riverderwent; 04-25-2017 at 07:47 AM.
    David
    "Performance speaks louder than math." Michael Palmer

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