It's Feb 1 and the bees are making wax already.
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Sonoma County, Ca, USA
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    457

    Default It's Feb 1 and the bees are making wax already.

    Last saturday was nice weather and one of the hives was really active with a steady stream of bees coming and going and lots of pollen coming in.
    When I listened to the back of the busiest hive I heard that familiar "crinkling cellophane" or "frying bacon" sound that I associate with working fresh wax.

    I cleaned the monitoring boards Saturday afternoon and this morning had a look at them. Lots of pollen bits, lots of sugar granules from the bricks above, and... some tiny clear discs of fresh wax.

    I want to split both my hives this year for swarm control and for increase and I still need to get more boxes and frames and get everything painted and aired out. I guess I better get moving, the bees seem to think it's spring already!

    Is it weird for them to be making wax so early?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Sonoma County, Ca
    Posts
    488

    Default Re: It's Feb 1 and the bees are making wax already.

    I put sugar bricks and pollen supplements in my hives last week, and upon checking on them yesterday only 1 hive was using the pollen and none of them were on the bricks. I think they are getting something fairly substantial right now, maybe even some early nectar??? The pollen is definitely coming in steady at my hives.

    When are you going to be splitting?

    I am going to be reversing bottom deeps and while I was thinking about March 1st (assuming good weather), I am wondering if I should do it earlier?

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Placer County, CA
    Posts
    442

    Default Re: It's Feb 1 and the bees are making wax already.

    I'll split probably in April when the flow is really good and bee population is gaining fast. (or when I see queen cells if before then)

    I keep an eye on my top box and when it is running out of room, then I check the bottom box for possible reversal. If empty, then I reverse them. March is probably about right.

    Mine aren't making wax yet, but I'm quite a bit colder than you. And we had rain Saturday, so no hive checking.
    On my 5th year with bees, 2 hives.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Sonoma County, Ca, USA
    Posts
    457

    Default Re: It's Feb 1 and the bees are making wax already.

    Quote Originally Posted by Norcalkyle View Post
    When are you going to be splitting?
    Well, that's a good question. I wish I had a good answer. I'm hoping the bees will tell me when it's time. Sometime shortly before they commit to swarming would be my preference..

    The weather service is advertising a few days of 70 weather early next week. If that happens then I will do my first inspection of the year and see where we're at.
    After that hopefully I can look in on them fairly regularly and watch the brood nest and the honey dome, watch for backfilling, queen cells with occupants, and try to get an idea of when they might be thinking about swarming. I'd like to split them when they are good and built up but before they commit to swarming.

    I've made a couple of Snelgrove (double screen) boards and I'll steal a good dose of brood and nurse bees and stores from the parent hive to put above the Snelgrove board and I'll leave the queen in the lower half. The foragers should mostly return to the lower half.
    Hopefully the loss of lots of brood and nurse bees will prevent swarming in the parent hive and the upper half will raise a viable queen on their own. If they don't then I'll either purchase a queen(s) or just recombine the bees back with the original colony.

    My wife isn't very happy with how much I've spent on this hobby so far and I'd like to avoid purchasing packages if possible and use the money saved for woodenware. Woodenware doesn't reproduce on it's own.
    2 packages of bees costs $250. Am I going to lose out on $250 worth of honey this year by splitting my 2 colonies? That seems unlikely. I'm going to try to let my bees make more bees for me whenever possible.

    I suppose it's also a good opportunity to see what the local genetics are like.
    This area is unique because of it's relative isolation from civilization within a 2 mile radius. A few dozen houses and no commercial agriculture except for a vineyard 2+ miles away.
    It's mostly just acres & acres of heavily wooded hillside for bees to nest in.

    I'm pretty sure there's only one other apiary (3 hives) within a 1 mile radius and I doubt there's many (maybe not any) more than that in a 2 mile radius.
    I think most of the bees we see around here are true ferals so it will be interesting to see how things work out breeding with the local "uncivilized" bees that survive here without human intervention.
    Maybe it'll be awesome. Or maybe it'll suck and I'll have to buy some decent queens to straighten things out. I dunno. It's my first year and the bees are still a mystery to me.

    But I sure would like to get a bunch of honey...

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Clinton, Iowa
    Posts
    6,032

    Default Re: It's Feb 1 and the bees are making wax already.

    It's because they're brooding and they have to cap the cells with something. There were clear flakes on monitoring boards in early January here last year. Didn't bother with looking this year.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Sonoma County, Ca, USA
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    457

    Default Re: It's Feb 1 and the bees are making wax already.

    It just seems early. I'm not ready for spring yet...

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Clinton, Iowa
    Posts
    6,032

    Default Re: It's Feb 1 and the bees are making wax already.

    Quote Originally Posted by BeeBop View Post
    It just seems early. I'm not ready for spring yet...
    Spring? Do you even have a winter?

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Petaluma, CA
    Posts
    34

    Default Re: It's Feb 1 and the bees are making wax already.

    BeeBop, where in Sonoma County are you located?

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Sonoma County, Ca, USA
    Posts
    457

    Default Re: It's Feb 1 and the bees are making wax already.

    In the hills west of Healdsburg.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Sonoma County, Ca, USA
    Posts
    457

    Default Re: It's Feb 1 and the bees are making wax already.

    Quote Originally Posted by jwcarlson View Post
    Spring? Do you even have a winter?
    We don't get that weird white stuff on the ground like some people do. But we get enough cold rainy days in the winter that the bees don't fly much.

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