I utilize a quilt box with cedar shavings in it to winterize my hives. I was wondering when other beekeepers in the area plan on adding their top feeders to their hives this year? With the warm weather and flowers budding on trees already, it looks like we might be able to get an early jump on things. What do you think?
I'm north of you, north of Albany NY (though a South Jersey gal, born and bred!). I keep my quilt boxes on until it's too much of pain to continue because it requires getting the bees off the undersides each time I want to go in the hive. This happens somewhere around the time I start tipping up each brood box every week to watch for swarm cells, or after about the first or second week in May.
I have never considered feeding established colonies syrup in the spring time, though I do feed winter patty and then pollen patty starting in the third week of March. In ordinary circumstances I wouldn't use syrup at this time of year for fear of mixing it with nectar. One feeds new colonies in their first year to make them draw comb faster and for longer. But after the establishment year they should be on their own, and anyway as part of my anti-swarm tactics I get them to draw a few more combs to keep them busy.
I suppose if a colony was so tiny and stressed that they needed syrup feeding, I wouldn't be expecting a honey crop from them. But still, I can't picture why you'd need syrup in the spring (unless you were taking your bees out west to the almonds, but if so you'd have BTDT, and be returning by now.)
I have often kept QBs on all summer with good results. But aside from the extra step to clear them off, some of my bees will chew through the cloth and wind up getting trapped in the shavings. Left on long enough for them to be majorly in the business of drying honey during the late summer, they will propolize the cloth entirely, sort of defeating the purpose of having cloth there for the following winter. (I do have two fully-propolized QBS on this winter as an experiment; results not in yet, except the shavings above are much drier which tells me quite a bit.)
I don't think we can count on it staying as warm as it has been for the last week, without backsliding to normal. That will create problems for bees that have started extra brood. To the extent you can maintain your winter protections, including QBs, you may help the bees get through any cold periods. I have slightly reduced my insulation thickness, but the panels are still out in the apiary, I expect to put them back on by Friday at the latest when we return to seasonal temps.
Hey quad I'm about 20 miles south of you. I leave mine on until I don't have to worry about frosts. Usually mid April to early may.March can be a wierd month, in like a lion out like a lamb. It's supposed to get down into the 20s at night this weekend.