Any TF beekeepers from Sacramento area?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    Sacramento, CA
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    44

    Default Any TF beekeepers from Sacramento area?

    Hello Everyone,

    I wonder if there are treatment-free beekeepers from Sacramento area on this forum.

    I am a hobbyist TF beekeeper since 2011. Despite my modest experience on the subject, I still have questions that need an answer. It would very helpful to find someone locally to share our experience.

    I specifically have a question about wintering TF strong colonies in this area and climate. I never treated for varoa, therefore I don't have the experience of one who does. Here is my problem/frustration. Even my strong hives undergo a drastic reduction in bee population around September-October. Although they survive the winter, they start in Spring on just 2-3 frames of bees. When and how -such a colony will produce a crop of honey if they consume all Spring nectar flow to raise brood? And I noticed this happening year after year. Please advise.

    Thank you.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hamilton, Alabama
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    2,998

    Default Re: Any TF beekeepers from Sacramento area?

    This is a limitation of the hive you are using as much as it is of the genetics.

    Italian genetics tend to overwinter with large colonies. Unfortunately, they also tend to be very susceptible to varroa. My experience with mite resistant genetics is that they almost always overwinter with small healthy colonies.

    Frame spacing is the other piece of this puzzle. A small cluster of bees can cover roughly 30% more comb space if the combs are spaced 32 mm center to center vs Langstroth frames that are 35 mm or Dadant frames that are 38 mm. With plenty of stores, a small cluster, and a good queen, bees require about 8 weeks to build up to full strength. The negative is that a colony that peaks before the main flow starts will almost always swarm.
    NW Alabama, 50 years, 20 colonies and growing, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 14 frame square Dadant broodnest

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Sacramento, CA
    Posts
    44

    Default Re: Any TF beekeepers from Sacramento area?

    Hello and thanks for your reply. I work with Carniolan bees since I replenish my losses by trapping swarms. And this I normally get - Carniolan bees. I am also doing foundationless. I don't know much about frame spacing. I don't understand it's concept and how this helps the bees. Thanks again.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Richmond, VA, USA
    Posts
    321

    Default Re: Any TF beekeepers from Sacramento area?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fusion_power View Post
    This is a limitation of the hive you are using as much as it is of the genetics.

    Frame spacing is the other piece of this puzzle. A small cluster of bees can cover roughly 30% more comb space if the combs are spaced 32 mm center to center vs Langstroth frames that are 35 mm or Dadant frames that are 38 mm. With plenty of stores, a small cluster, and a good queen, bees require about 8 weeks to build up to full strength. The negative is that a colony that peaks before the main flow starts will almost always swarm.
    Fusion power,

    I've been changing all of my frames to 1 1/4" as I add new ones, or in recycling the old. How did you get the 30% figure above?

    Also, I think I recall you prefer small-cell bees primarily for faster/earlier spring buildup - Is that right? Do you use mostly 32mm? What are your reasons for this?

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hamilton, Alabama
    Posts
    2,998

    Default Re: Any TF beekeepers from Sacramento area?

    clong, I use 5.1 mm cells in all my colonies now. I tried 4.9 but did not see any benefit in terms of varroa resistance. The rationale for using 5.1 is because it permits a few more cells of brood in early spring As for the 30% figure, that is the change in area covered by a sphere of bees when an additional frame is added via narrower frames. Please note that the increase in swarming tendency more than counters the benefits of faster buildup time unless swarming is controlled.
    NW Alabama, 50 years, 20 colonies and growing, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 14 frame square Dadant broodnest

  7. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    5,457

    Default Re: Any TF beekeepers from Sacramento area?

    Calbee,

    I'm not TF exactly, I run a mix. I believe a big part of cluster size can be influenced by genetics, but can be manipulated with proper feed. Mites can play a role, if you think it's an issue it could be part of the equation. A couple of my locations I choose not to treat as the deadouts get re-populated by swarms pretty much every year. Survivors generally shrink down to almost nothing and supercede late fall. I had one get mated in November last year that came back to be a boomer but not all hives achieve this. Some just never recover, some take all year to fill out a single 10 frame deep. A lot of this is locational as well, good feed will go a long way into helping a hive recover.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    10,145

    Default Re: Any TF beekeepers from Sacramento area?

    Quote Originally Posted by Calbee View Post
    When and how -such a colony will produce a crop of honey if they consume all Spring nectar flow to raise brood?
    i think dar has alluded to it in his posts.

    the 'when' is after you effectively implement swarm prevention measures.

    the 'how' is that the colony will shift gears from using the bulk of incoming nectar for brooding and go into honey storage mode.

    my bees also come out of winter with 2-3 frames of bees and also use most of the early spring nectar for brooding.

    by mid spring they are at 20+ frames of bees and at that point we are at prime swarm season here.

    if they swarm there's not much if any crop after leaving enough honey for the bees. if they don't swarm they can fill several supers in a matter of weeks and will do so prior to us entering our summer dearth period here.

    as jrg13 suggests the location has a lot to do with it. to get a decent crop the spring flow needs to support the population build up, swarming needs to be prevented, and the flow needs to continue on long enough afterward to fill some supers.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Sacramento, CA
    Posts
    44

    Default Re: Any TF beekeepers from Sacramento area?

    JRG13, I remember you answering my questions on this forum in the past. Thank you. You were saying you have mix of both. Do you keep all of them in the same yard or in separated yards? What do you mean by good feed? Artificial feed such as sugar syrup, pollen substitute or real feed such honey, etc. Regarding your TF colonies, how do you manage them in Fall? Do you treat oxalic acid for mites? Could you please share your experience on how you prepare your TF colonies for winter?

  10. #9
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    5,457

    Default Re: Any TF beekeepers from Sacramento area?

    I don't do anything... they have 2 honeysupers full of capped honey and they either make it or they don't. Typically mites hammer them hard, but have a few that were showing some tolerance at least. They overwinter typically as two deeps and two mediums... but don't get me wrong, last couple of years they came through with a tiny cluster about the size of a baseball in the top medium... which isn't bad but you have to make sure they have good brood comb up there to get started on.... they fill the boxes back out come April or they die out and a swarm replaces them. The yard is a separate yard, just a few colonies in an urban area. Some yards are a mix and match, just depends if I have time to get to everything.

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