Colony Update here in MA
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  1. #1
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    Feb 2013
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    Quincy, Mass USA
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    Default Colony Update here in MA

    Have long been a fan of Allen's "Colony update here in PA" and Squarepeg's "2015 Treatment Free Experience" threads and thought it worth while starting a similar thread for experiences a bit further north.... I have two outyards in Marshfield (3 production colonies and 4 nucs) and Needham (2 production colonies and 4 nucs) and plan on moving two hives from Marshfield to my place in Quincy for spring pollination so should be able to give a good running report of what is going on in the greater Boston area here. Nucs are Mike Palmer style split deeps (each with a single deep super) and production colonies are double deeps with a single medium super. All colonies are outfitted with broodminder's for temp/humidity monitoring and I have a scale setup to weigh the production hives. All colonies still are still in winter wrap with Mike Palmer style mouse guards. The weather reported is through my weather station located in Quincy.

    Red maples and crocus are blooming (since 7 Mar roughly a month early) and all hives/nucs are bringing in pale and yellow pollen.

    Weather this week has been unseasonably warm with temperatures typically with the lows in the 30-40F range and the highs in the 40-60F range. Rain MTD = .=0.71" and YTD = 6.22".

    Marshfield Outyard - Based on the broodminer readings, two of the 3 Marshfield hives started brooding the third week in Feb with the last one brooding at my last check (13 Mar) after feeding pollen patties. All hives/nucs are being fed fondant and pollen patties and are taking them. Two hives are very large and one is fairly weak. The weak hive was the last to kick off brooding. One nuc is strong and one is weak but both are expected to survive. Hive weights are stable to slightly down from the previous week.

    Needham Outyard - Based on the broodminer readings, both production hives started brooding the third week in Feb. All hives and nucs are being fed fondant and pollen patties and are taking them. One hive is very large and one is fairly average and both are very active. Both nucs are strong. Hive weights are stable to slightly up from the previous week.

    I normally check in on my outyards on Sundays so should be able to update early in the following week. This next Sunday is expected to be rain/snow so I may not be able to check in with results next week. (19 Mar)
    Since '12 Zone 7a 42.25N 71.00W 17H OAV Amitraz
    Seaside Apiaries

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
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    Quincy, Mass USA
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    Default Re: Colony Update here in MA

    Weather this week was seasonal with temperatures typically with the lows ranging from 28-43F and the highs ranging from 36-64F. Rained (cold drizzle) on and off all week. Rain MTD =1.98" and YTD = 7.49".

    Marshfield Outyard - Hive weights were variable with two hives putting on less than a pound each and the remaining one losing 5 pounds. All hives showed much less interest in the fondant. Protein patties were completely consumed and replaced. Bottom boards show lots of cappings, some pollen balls (some greenish and some yellow) and no varroa.

    Needham Outyard - Both hives lost significant weight and are still taking the fondant. One hive lost 20 pounds (! measured twice just to be sure) and the other lost 9 pounds. Like Marshfield both hives completely consumed the protein patty and it was replaced. Will need to make up more patties before next weeks visit. The hive that lost the 20lbs is literally jammed with bees. Bottom boards show the same debris as Marshfield.

    Evaluated a new potential outyard in Rockland. Site is residential and has a small stream nearby. Lots of open fields within a quarter mile or so that hopefully will be decent forage. Plan is to put two of my 4 overwintered nucs into full deeps and add a double nuc when I build nucs this summer. If the site pans out might eventually expand to as many as 4 production hives next year.
    Since '12 Zone 7a 42.25N 71.00W 17H OAV Amitraz
    Seaside Apiaries

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Colony Update here in MA

    Weather this week was seasonal with temperatures consistent with lows in the 30's (29-43F) and the highs in the 40's (42-49 with one day at 60F). Rained (cold drizzle) on and off all week with measurable rainfall on 3 days. Rain MTD =2.22" and YTD = 7.73".

    Norway Maples are now in bloom and the occasional dandelion survivor is blooming but the dandelion flow looks to be still a few weeks away.

    One of my mentees lost his hive this week.... Observed to have activity the previous week.... Upon inspection was clearly PMS with most of the damage done in the fall... Very small cluster (tennis ball sized) and plenty of varroa scat... Looks like they got locked on brood and were not able to move enough to reach their honey and subsequently starved.... Plenty of honey and pollen so will be a boon when he gets a new colony in early may.....

    Was not able to get to my outyards this week due to the holidays. Will update hive status next week....;- )
    Since '12 Zone 7a 42.25N 71.00W 17H OAV Amitraz
    Seaside Apiaries

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Colony Update here in MA

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob J View Post
    One hive lost 20 pounds (! measured twice just to be sure)
    This is why I don't think people should be removing the "spare" super of honey that made it through the winter. They can go thru it awfully fast when they start building up in the spring.

    What type of bees do you have?

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Colony Update here in MA

    Quote Originally Posted by NewbeeInNH View Post
    This is why I don't think people should be removing the "spare" super of honey that made it through the winter. They can go thru it awfully fast when they start building up in the spring.

    What type of bees do you have?
    Carniolan Mutts that I originally got from Full Bloom Apiaries down in Connecticut.... This is one of my monster hives with more bees than I have ever seen in a hive coming out of winter.... All the others are losing a few pounds here and there but this one is clearly very aggressively building up.... Swarm season here usually starts in early May but with the exceptionally warm winter we have had I will really need to stay on top of this one....;- )

    This is the trend and you can see how this hive (Hive 3 Needham) really stands out:



    Here is the graph of the weekly net change:



    BTW the big drop around week 35 was when I extracted. All weights are net which means that I have subtracted the weight of all the woodenware so it should be pretty close to the weight of bees + honey.
    Since '12 Zone 7a 42.25N 71.00W 17H OAV Amitraz
    Seaside Apiaries

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Colony Update here in MA

    On a related subject here is what I have seen for swarm calls in the last 4 years.... Counts are reported swarms by week to a local beekeeping club forum (NCBA).



    Basically where I am the earliest swarms in the past 4 years were in week 17 and 18 and ramping up quickly after that.... Will be interesting to see what this year brings...
    Since '12 Zone 7a 42.25N 71.00W 17H OAV Amitraz
    Seaside Apiaries

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Colony Update here in MA

    Great graphs!

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Colony Update here in MA

    Quote Originally Posted by NewbeeInNH View Post
    Great graphs!
    Thanks! I try and track everything that might have relevance to my colonies.... I try and correlate what my hives are doing with what is blooming as well as the weather.... For example, right now we have the maples coming in which normally I could get a decent flow off of but the weather has been rainy on the warmer days and cold on the others.... Not much chance for the girls to get out....
    Since '12 Zone 7a 42.25N 71.00W 17H OAV Amitraz
    Seaside Apiaries

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Colony Update here in MA

    I'm 1.5 hrs. north of you, so your posts are really relevant to my bees.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Colony Update here in MA

    Good info, thanks for sharing.

    Are those swarm counts actual calls coming in looking for someone to collect a swarm ,
    Or do they include hives in member yards that swarmed .?

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Colony Update here in MA

    Quote Originally Posted by adson View Post
    Good info, thanks for sharing.

    Are those swarm counts actual calls coming in looking for someone to collect a swarm ,
    Or do they include hives in member yards that swarmed .?
    They are unique sighted swarms mentioned in a post which includes swarms in the poster's yard as well as those sighted elsewhere. It was the best I could come up with to have some sense of when we run into swarms here... Interestingly enough there were no reported fall swarms but again my data source is somewhat subjective. One of the posts was mine where I had a swarm adopt one of my empty deep hive bodies stored in the yard for convenience.... That one was on Mother's day 2012 so it fit well into the emerging pattern that evolved with the other reported swarms....
    Last edited by Bob J; 03-30-2016 at 09:52 AM.
    Since '12 Zone 7a 42.25N 71.00W 17H OAV Amitraz
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  13. #12
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    Default Re: Colony Update here in MA

    Good job Bob.
    what we need is some warm days that bees can forage pollen..

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Colony Update here in MA

    Quote Originally Posted by scituatema View Post
    Good job Bob.
    what we need is some warm days that bees can forage pollen..
    So agree with you on that! Would be nice to be able to take advantage of the maple flow as well!
    Since '12 Zone 7a 42.25N 71.00W 17H OAV Amitraz
    Seaside Apiaries

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Colony Update here in MA

    Weather this week was all over the place with low temperatures ranging from 33F to 69F and the highs ranging from 47F to 70F. Had measurable rainfall on 3 days. Rain Month to date (April) MTD =0.36" and YTD = 8.43". Wind has been very high for a number of days. Another week without any significant opportunity for the girls to forage despite the warmer temps.

    All hives but one continued to lose weight with most in the 6 to 8 pound range. Girls are definitely hungry and blew through an amazing amount of fondant and protein patties. Was able to replenish everything before the first of two late season snow storms hit yesterday with the second accumulating as I type. Lots of capping debris on the bottom boards with bands of light yellow and olive drab pollen. No sign of varroa.

    Early Saturday moved my weakest and strongest hives from the Marshfield Outyard to my backyard to pollinate my fruit trees. The move was fairly uneventful even though it was cool (40F) and rainy. Worked out well as all the foragers were still in the hive. Before screening the upper and lower entrances, took this opportunity to remove my winter wrap (tar paper) and mouse guard. The winter feeding/insulation shim is still in place.

    All my fruit trees are budding roughly 4 weeks early so am hoping that they will not be damaged by the current weather. Looking at 4 days now with highs mostly down in the 30's and lows back in the 20's. This will be tough on the girls as there is a significant amount of brood to keep warm and they could lock up on the brood. Keeping my fingers crossed that all my colonies come though.
    Since '12 Zone 7a 42.25N 71.00W 17H OAV Amitraz
    Seaside Apiaries

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Colony Update here in MA

    Great commentary, Bob. This might also be useful next year when you want to look back and compare seasons.

    Do you think you removed your wrap too early?

    I had pollen coming in on... I think it was Friday. Very pale yellow but the leg pouches looked like they were going to burst. Right now they are sitting in their hives sketching out their swarm plans. Little do they suspect that I have plans of my own.

    Sitting in the snow globe right now, waiting for the polar bears to take their vortex and go home. This is why I have 4WD.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Colony Update here in MA

    Quote Originally Posted by NewbeeInNH View Post
    Great commentary, Bob. This might also be useful next year when you want to look back and compare seasons.

    Do you think you removed your wrap too early?

    I had pollen coming in on... I think it was Friday. Very pale yellow but the leg pouches looked like they were going to burst. Right now they are sitting in their hives sketching out their swarm plans. Little do they suspect that I have plans of my own.

    Sitting in the snow globe right now, waiting for the polar bears to take their vortex and go home. This is why I have 4WD.
    I really don't think it's too early.... I saw a study somewhere where someone took empty hive bodies and wrapped some and left some others unwrapped in the sun and then compared the internal temperatures over a number of cold days.... The results indicated that there was no significant difference... I am more of the thought that the wrap provides an additional wind barrier as well as warms the area near the upper entrance.... This in theory gives the girls a chance on sunny windless days to take a quick poop break in the dead of winter.... I have seen a number of studies looking at wrapped vs unwrapped hive winter survivability and there does not seem to be a big impact one way or the other.... Am not sure what the truth is but whether it helps or not at least there is no evidence that it hurts so in my book it's worth it to take any opportunity to help them get through our crazy winters....

    Anyhoo, figured this was a good time to unwrap as it made screening the entrances much cleaner... My Needham hives are still wrapped and will stay that way until I do my first detailed hive dive hopefully in the next week or two...
    Since '12 Zone 7a 42.25N 71.00W 17H OAV Amitraz
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  18. #17
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    Default Re: Colony Update here in MA

    I just saw you're in zone 7a. Only 1.5 hrs. from you (I figure), I'm in 5b. Probably makes a difference.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Colony Update here in MA

    I'm in the North Shore, have one overwintered hive of Carniolian Mutts with a queen from Plymouth County Beeks queen rearing initiative. I started with a package last year. Still have the winter wraps on, have sugar bricks on top too. Bees were flying last week when it was 50F+ and bringing in yellow pollen like crazy. Maples and willows are blooming, croci finished last week. 4 inches of snow over the past few days=not impressed! Wondering when to unwrap and get them going, there are a few dandelions peeking out in the yard now...

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Colony Update here in MA

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuzzymiss9 View Post
    I'm in the North Shore, have one overwintered hive of Carniolian Mutts with a queen from Plymouth County Beeks queen rearing initiative. I started with a package last year. Still have the winter wraps on, have sugar bricks on top too. Bees were flying last week when it was 50F+ and bringing in yellow pollen like crazy. Maples and willows are blooming, croci finished last week. 4 inches of snow over the past few days=not impressed! Wondering when to unwrap and get them going, there are a few dandelions peeking out in the yard now...
    And there are more snow showers predicted for this weekend..... What a crazy spring!
    Since '12 Zone 7a 42.25N 71.00W 17H OAV Amitraz
    Seaside Apiaries

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Colony Update here in MA

    Weather this week continued to be dismal for the girls.... 4 days out of 7 had measureable rain and those were the only days with temperatures out of the 40's. Low temperatures ranging from 24F to 43F and the highs ranging from 31F to 60F. Rain Month to date (April) MTD =2.14" and YTD = 10.21". Wind has been very high for a number of days.

    Hive weight changes from last week ranged from -13.4 to +2.1 lbs. Girls continue to consume just about everything I give them (fondant/protein). No sign of varroa. On the rare days they were able to safely get out they are heavily foraging water and pale yellow pollen.

    The first dandelions are just starting to bloom and all of the fruit trees in my yard (apples, cherries, peaches and pears) are almost to bud break. Hopefully we will get some decent weather when the bloom starts.

    Hive temperatures show strong brooding in all of the production hives. One nuc is showing temperatures just above ambient so I may have lost them to this latest cold spell. The other three nucs are strong.
    Since '12 Zone 7a 42.25N 71.00W 17H OAV Amitraz
    Seaside Apiaries

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