Nectar Management Question
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  1. #1
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    Jul 2016
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    Somerset, NJ
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    Default Nectar Management Question

    4th year beekeeper here. I have 4 hives. 2 are very strong in double deeps. 2 were splits last year and are in single deeps not as strong but still doing well. At this point I have mite management down and have figured out how to feed them to survive the winter.

    I have read Walt Wright’s book and would like to try nectar management this year. From that book and other things I’ve read on the subject it seems that I should start opening the brood nest about a month before maples bloom. Based on that, I should be starting now. However, it will only be a high of about 30 today and will be only getting into the 30s and 40s for the foreseeable future.

    How can I get around this? Should I just place an empty drawn super on the hives or do something else?
    Thanks for any input! Jon

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Nectar Management Question

    walt timed his checkerboarding manipulation to when the temps warmed up enough to allow for foraging. down here that usually coincides with the end of february give or take a week or two, which also coincides with the first tree pollens being brought in copious amounts.

    the main idea of checkerboarding is to place alternating frames of empty comb and frames of honey in the hive bodies just above the broodnest. folks as far north as you are jon usually report there isn't enough honey to do this with as most of the honey gets consumed during the long cold winter.

    i have utilized the checkerboarding concept with double deeps and it worked well. this involves seeing to it that the broodnest gets located in the bottom deep and then alternating frames of empty comb and frames honey are situated in the upper deep.

    with this arrangement the broodnest expands upward very nicely into the upper box taking advantage of the empty comb for the queen to lay in, the readily available brood food flanking that empty comb, and the warm moist air rising up from the cluster in the bottom box.

    you can do the same thing with supers over your single deeps if you have super frames of empty comb and super frames of honey to do it with.

    "opening the broodnest" usually refers to placing frames of empty comb into the middle or just to the outside of the broodnest, which is something that walt did not condone. i think you used the phrase to mean opening the hive bodies containing the broodnest.

  4. #3
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    Jul 2016
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    Somerset, NJ
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    Default Re: Nectar Management Question

    Thanks for your reply SQ. Yes, I guess I used the wrong term in describing WW's technique since he suggests not touching the brood area but making sure that there is enough empty space for nectar above the brood. I realize that you are in a different climate than me but do his techniques not work in the north or does it need to be modified?

    I am trying to prevent reproductive swarms this year. Should I just adjust my timing and wait until the bees have enough honey stored to do the checkerboarding or is that useless here? He was not a fan of hive body reversal but that seems to be what a lot of people in these parts use.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Nectar Management Question

    i remember a group in ohio that was big on walt's methods. i'll try to see if i can dig up more on that for you jon.

    i don't think checkerboarding will work if you wait until there is new honey gettng stored and then using that. by the time you get to that point in the season the colony would have either swarmed already or have been dissuaded from swarming and become more focused on storing honey for the next winter.

    if you end up with frames of empty comb and frames of honey to work with when the temps allow your first intrusions into your hives then i believe you could use checkerboarding to your advantage. if not you may have to come up with a plan b.

    walt pointed out a couple potential problems with the double deep configuration that tended to manifest themselves somewhat consistently in our relatively warmer climate.

    one problem was too much honey left in the upper deep that didn't get used for the brood up coming out of winter. this solid honey overhead created a 'barrier' that tended to keep the colony from expanding operations above it and they most often went into swarm mode instead.

    another problem was when the broodnest became split across the gap between the lower and upper deep, which makes it pretty much impossible to reverse because of having to separate the nest in two.

    for me the application of walt's methods drastically reduced swarming and increased honey production, but not to the degree that walt enjoyed. this may have been due to differences between the shallow supers walt used compared to the mediums supers i use, or it may be the local strain of bee i have is more swarmy.

    i came up with some adjuncts and tweeks to checkerboarding that resulted in pretty consistent and reliable swarm prevention, some of which walt would not have approved of, to include actually opening up the broodnest, pyramiding brood up to the next box, and shaking the queen into a bottom box full of empty comb below an excluder to start a new broodnest.

    if you can find someone in your general area who has come up with an effective method of swarm control lend them your ear. once it gets warm enough to do your first inspections let us know what you see and what resources you have. my guess is you'll get more input than you can use.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Nectar Management Question

    turns out it was a new jersey group after all jon:

    http://www.bkcorner.org/spring-manag...rm-prevention/

  7. #6
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    Catskills, Delaware Cty, New York, USA
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    Default Re: Nectar Management Question

    Hi Jon, I have found that my bees move up during winter and leave the bottom deep empty, hence we can switch boxes around. Your maples are a bit earlier than mine up here; don’t be afraid to super early, the bees can handle it. Use your judgement on which hives are strong enough to do this. Once they start storing the maple nectar you can get into checkerboarding. Walt was in Tennessee if I remember correctly, so different clim like SP mentioned. If you have the empty deep to switch do so and arrange the hive (if needed) for Spring, trying to keep broodnest together. Again, you can super early; this advice was given by Mike Palmer.
    Proverbs 16:24

  8. #7
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    Jul 2016
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    Default Re: Nectar Management Question

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    turns out it was a new jersey group after all jon:

    http://www.bkcorner.org/spring-manag...rm-prevention/
    Thanks for the link! I'll take a look and see what I can get from it.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Nectar Management Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Cloverdale View Post
    Hi Jon, I have found that my bees move up during winter and leave the bottom deep empty, hence we can switch boxes around. Your maples are a bit earlier than mine up here; don’t be afraid to super early, the bees can handle it. Use your judgement on which hives are strong enough to do this. Once they start storing the maple nectar you can get into checkerboarding. Walt was in Tennessee if I remember correctly, so different clim like SP mentioned. If you have the empty deep to switch do so and arrange the hive (if needed) for Spring, trying to keep broodnest together. Again, you can super early; this advice was given by Mike Palmer.
    Yes, the bees are in the upper for those in 2 deeps. I'll try out what you suggest. Thanks for the feedback!

  10. #9
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    Mar 2013
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    Seattle WA
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    Default Re: Nectar Management Question

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    turns out it was a new jersey group after all jon:

    http://www.bkcorner.org/spring-manag...rm-prevention/
    Thank you for the link. Very informative.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Nectar Management Question

    Excellent video, thanks SP!

  12. #11
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    Jun 2018
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    Boaz, KY, USA
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    Default Re: Nectar Management Question

    Quote Originally Posted by dudelt View Post
    Thank you for the link. Very informative.
    Quote Originally Posted by jonsl View Post
    Excellent video, thanks SP!
    I third that- thanks for sharing, SP!
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    Rome, GA
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    374

    Default Re: Nectar Management Question

    Quote Originally Posted by jonsl View Post
    I have read Walt Wright’s book and would like to try nectar management this year.
    Nectar Management has always intrigued me. I played around with it early on but I always seemed to run short of two things; 1) drawn frames and 2) frames of honey to make the proper manipulations. I may revisit it now that i have a much a better stock of drawn frames.
    Let's Eat Grandmaw ........... Let's Eat, Grandmaw.......Grammar Saves Lives

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
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    4,190

    Default Re: Nectar Management Question

    Many years ago, StevenG and I had discussions at great length on this subject. He was more of a proponent than I. We run single deeps, with frequent inspections with manipulations.

    It depends on your goals. Do you want to minimize labor or maximize profit and honey production?

    Crazy Roland

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