Brood'n-up in Denver, Colorado! (1-22-16)
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  1. #1
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    Default Brood'n-up in Denver, Colorado! (1-22-16)

    I took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather here in Denver, Colorado, today to do a quick check of my hives.

    I found that my strongest hives have started producing brood. I saw small patches of capped brood and wet larvae on the inner-most frames. Meaning, the queen had started laying by about 1-12-16. I didn't go into the smaller hives, so I don't know where they may be in brood production.

    Most of my hives went into the winter with somewhere between 35lbs and 45lbs of honey. The biggest hive started winter with 36lbs of capped honey, and still has multiple frames of honey. I had added a sugar brick a-la-Laurie to all the hives in mid-December. None of the hives have touched their sugar bricks, so far. The toughest part of winter is still to come, and it will be interesting to see when and if the hives start on their sugar bricks.
    --shinbone
    (1975-1980, and now since 2011; maintain about 10 hives; Zone 5b; 15" rain; 5500')

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Brood'n-up in Denver, Colorado! (1-22-16)

    If it's warm tomorrow, add a pollen substitute patty. They will be needing protein now that they are brooding up.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Brood'n-up in Denver, Colorado! (1-22-16)

    Good advice. Thanks!
    --shinbone
    (1975-1980, and now since 2011; maintain about 10 hives; Zone 5b; 15" rain; 5500')

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Brood'n-up in Denver, Colorado! (1-22-16)

    I never pull frames during winter. I'm always afraid I'll mess up the cluster and do more damage than I help.
    Last fall mine were bringing in boatloads of pollen, even as late as November. So they should be in pretty good shape. Maple pollen will be available soon. Unless they looked short I wouldn't give them a supplement this early. Just my opinion.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Brood'n-up in Denver, Colorado! (1-22-16)

    Arnie - Thanks for you input. When do the maples usually bloom in your area?
    --shinbone
    (1975-1980, and now since 2011; maintain about 10 hives; Zone 5b; 15" rain; 5500')

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Brood'n-up in Denver, Colorado! (1-22-16)

    Usually mid to late February. When you checked the frames did you notice a band of pollen? If so, they should be fine.
    One caution about feeding pollen sub too soon is they get excited about brood rearing and it messes up their timing for spring.
    That's just my opinion.

    Edit:
    Haha, I just noticed I ended both posts with "Just my opinion."
    People do different things with their bees depending on their objective. If you want more bees, increase, then ramping up brood early might be a good thing. You run the risk of them getting short of honey come March or April.

  8. #7
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    May 2014
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    Default Re: Brood'n-up in Denver, Colorado! (1-22-16)

    Quote Originally Posted by Arnie View Post
    I never pull frames during winter. I'm always afraid I'll mess up the cluster and do more damage than I help.
    Last fall mine were bringing in boatloads of pollen, even as late as November. So they should be in pretty good shape. Maple pollen will be available soon. Unless they looked short I wouldn't give them a supplement this early. Just my opinion.
    X2 Our Maple pollen usually comes on in early February down here. Denver, being ~1700' lower in elevation, might be about a week sooner - almost any day with the recent warmer weather. Our frequent spring snowstorms can shut the pollen down in a day. Supplemental feeding would/should be continued right on through those breaks if you chose to start.

    A recent post on spring feeding suggests that starting supplemental pollen a few weeks before the first natural occurrence is a reasonable approach if your goal is to promote early brood rearing. You'd be kick starting the natural cycle which means you need to follow through until the resulting potential "early boomers" can stand on their own or be split or whatever. Otherwise there is the risk of starvation as they expand beyond the ability to sustain themselves on natural pollen & nectar.

    I'll probably be putting out some dry UltraBee in the next few weeks. I don't plan to kick start them, just provide a more consistent source to cover those natural breaks. I think we are "over the hump" as far as extreme & protracted cold spells go. We will likely still see another half dozen or twelve snow storms.

    Good luck (again) - I recall you doing the same thing last year. It must have worked out?
    After 40 years of beekeeping, I've come to realize that the bees can fix most of my mistakes.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Brood'n-up in Denver, Colorado! (1-22-16)

    Quote Originally Posted by Colobee View Post
    Good luck (again) - I recall you doing the same thing last year. It must have worked out?
    I did feed early last year with the intention of kickstarting the brood rearing cycle to get bigger hives to get more honey. I don't really need the honey, I was just experimenting with a common method to boost production to see how it would work for me.

    I learned that it is not a simple process and there are lots of uncontrollable variables, such as weather, and also self-made pitfalls for the unwary/inexperienced early-feeding-beek.

    Checking my records, I started feeding on March 5 with both 1:1 syrup and pollen patties. The hives did start an early build-up. However . . .

    Many of the hives attempted to supercedure their queen relatively early in the Spring when our local weather was still quite variable. Consequently and unfortunately, the queens emerged for their mating flights while we had extended rainy weather. Thus, many of the queens did not mate and the hives went queen-less early in the season. There was nothing I could do to requeen them because, being early in the season, the queen suppliers were all sold out to the package producers and I could not source a single queen. I stood by and watched helplessly as hive after hive went laying worker. A few hives did get their queens mated, but they were poor layers with poor build up, and I lost some of them this winter.

    This was just one season's experience, and was the first time I tried early feeding, but I am thinking the early abundance of pollen sub and syrup due to my early feeding may have induced premature supercedure which then led to a lot of weather-related problems that reverberated the rest of the season.

    I will try early feeding again, this year and hope the weather doesn't spank me like it did last year.
    --shinbone
    (1975-1980, and now since 2011; maintain about 10 hives; Zone 5b; 15" rain; 5500')

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Brood'n-up in Denver, Colorado! (1-22-16)

    According to my records from last year, it was the first week of February that I saw my first pollen being brought in.
    Please excuse me, I am now free to go manage & treat ;)
    my ladies the best way I know how.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Brood'n-up in Denver, Colorado! (1-22-16)

    I remember that rain in May last year. We had a hive that was bursting at the seams, ready to swarm, so as soon as we saw drones we split it and right after that the rain started. Somehow the queen got mated and built up a nice hive for us.

    If you ever get stuck needing a queen there is a guy in Longmont who usually has some. I got one last year and she's a good queen.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Brood'n-up in Denver, Colorado! (1-22-16)

    So, you placed an early order for a few queens this spring? I have a few coming in late April. I'd highly recommend Richard Weaver's Buckfast queens.

    Yes - last spring was exceptionally wet. I saw a couple of my boomers throw swarms - unusual for second year Buckfast queens. With all that rain, what else was there to do but build queen cells ? The swarms ended up doing quite well (still overwintering), and the swarmed hives managed to successfully re-queen themselves and produce a nice crop (still overwintering). Those early & prolonged rains translated to a very strong main flow, down here. Who knows - every year is a bit different.

    I don't have a lot of experience with early feeding but I do have 50 years of Colorado weather watching, and ~40 years with bees. Given your last year's experience, perhaps you might consider starting the early feed a week or two later this year? And maybe order a few queens, if it's not too late!

    Again - Good luck!
    After 40 years of beekeeping, I've come to realize that the bees can fix most of my mistakes.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Brood'n-up in Denver, Colorado! (1-22-16)

    Quote Originally Posted by Colobee View Post
    So, you placed an early order for a few queens this spring?
    I have given some serious thought about placing an early order for queens. I was hesitating because I didn't think the commercial queen producers would want to deal with a small-time hobbyist (~12 hives) like myself during their busiest season.
    --shinbone
    (1975-1980, and now since 2011; maintain about 10 hives; Zone 5b; 15" rain; 5500')

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Brood'n-up in Denver, Colorado! (1-22-16)

    I've never had that issue with RWeaver but can't recall my smallest order. Shipping becomes a consideration with just a few - it's $28 for one, or several. All you can do is check on availability - I ordered mine in early December - 6 for $208, with shipping.

    They also have an "All-American" for the same price - An "...Italian, Cordovan, Carniolan, Canadian Buckfast, and bees possessing the Harbo VSH (Varroa Sensitive Hygienic) trait that have crossed with our own R Weaver stock of Italian and Buckfast."

    I haven't tried them but they sound very promising.

    On another note, with respect to your OP - I've never checked at mid-winter, but Buckfast are described as producing limited brood throughout the winter, although the queen may be laying as few as dozens of (or no) eggs per day right around the solstice. I wouldn't be surprised to see a small patch of brood in any of my hives right now.
    After 40 years of beekeeping, I've come to realize that the bees can fix most of my mistakes.

  15. #14
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    Littleton, CO USA
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    Default Re: Brood'n-up in Denver, Colorado! (1-22-16)

    Hey, Shinbone, this is your neighbor Joe Beek. Poco a poco.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Brood'n-up in Denver, Colorado! (1-22-16)

    Joe! Good to see you on the forum! This is a great place and there is lots to learn here.
    --shinbone
    (1975-1980, and now since 2011; maintain about 10 hives; Zone 5b; 15" rain; 5500')

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Brood'n-up in Denver, Colorado! (1-22-16)

    Stubbornly seeking Buckfast bees. No packs or nucs out of Canada, found a spot in PA that carries them. went to NoCo today. Russian nucs? Worth a shot?

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Brood'n-up in Denver, Colorado! (1-22-16)

    RWeaver has Buckfast.

    We've got a couple Russians....well, one from a package 2 years ago and the other is the daughter of the first. Great bees. Build up fast, store a boatload of honey, pretty gentle, hardy. The only downside is they build up SO fast in spring if you are not on top of them they'll swarm. We are going to split up the hive with the older queen this spring and get some more daughters.
    Try some Russians, you might like them.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Brood'n-up in Denver, Colorado! (1-22-16)

    You can also get Buckfast queens from Ferguson in Canada. http://fergusonapiaries.on.ca/
    NW Alabama, 50 years, 20 colonies and growing, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 14 frame square Dadant broodnest

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Brood'n-up in Denver, Colorado! (1-22-16)

    If they are brooding up they most likely have figured out that the natural pollen source is readily available. Why would theyou need a supplemental pollen source?
    "Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay".....Krishnamurti

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