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Winter solstice will be here tomorrow. If you have not given your bees their final OAV treatment for 2019, this next week is the time to do it, while they are still broodless. Even though our coldest weather is yet to come, it won't be long before the queens start laying and the opportunity to treat while broodless will have passed. It is also time to think about providing pollen sub. Feeding early helps assure a large foraging force when the flow starts, BUT, be prepared to provide agressive swarm managment. A hive bursting with bees at the begininig of April is a swarm waiting to happen, but is also necessary to take advantage of a short flow.
 

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I wouldn't think beekeepers in cold climates should add pollen substitute at this time if warm periods aren't in the near future and bee's can't get out for cleansing flights
 

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I wouldn't think beekeepers in cold climates should add pollen substitute at this time if warm periods aren't in the near future and bee's can't get out for cleansing flights
I think along your lines, but I see people advocating putting on pollen patties at the beginning of non flying winter! Since I am in the chinook zone where we get wildly windy warm days thruout the winter, My bees get flying opportunities sporadically in cold weather. My normal process is to put pollen patties the middle of February and never let the bees run out until natural pollen is stored by the half frame next to the brood nest.
 

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I would not advocate feeding pollen yet in the deep freeze of the north. But here in the southeast, to which this sub forum is dedicated, we get plenty of warm days during the winter for cleansing flights. Vance's admonition to keep pollen on them once you start is important. Until red maples start, there is a chance of the bees starving on brood if they run out of pollen. Syrup/honey consumption will increase dramatically as well. Something to watch for.

What are those of y'all in Dixie doing for your bees right now?
 

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My girls were flying yesterday as the temps rose to near 60. They were also bringing in a bright yellow pollen. From where, I haven't a clue.
 

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With the warmer than normal weather we have been having in the SE, there is no doubt that the queens went straight to work around winter's soltice this year. As of Jan. 11th, my hives have large sections of capped brood and other beekeepers with different breeds of bees are reporting orientation flights already. This means that is more important than ever to put dry pollen out for the bees, or pollen patties inside the hives. If you use a patty, make sure you put in a beetle trap or Swiffer sheet to control SHB. Several of my hives still had a fair number of beetles running around that the cold, or lack of it, did not kill. I do not know what February will bring, but the hives are expanding now and maples are close. Holding off pollen feeding will only hurt the bees if you are in the SE.

Attached is a link to a short video I shot yesterday of my bees at the feeding station. Commentary is off the cuff so not well scripted.

https://youtu.be/UCKk3VSdgQc
 

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I did some quick inspections during a warm afternoon last week. I saw a number of frames of capped brood with new workers emerging. Evidently some of mine started brood rearing in earnest before the solstice.
 

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Bees were bringing in bright yellow and brick red pollen today like it was mid spring. Every other bee was loaded down with pollen. All 5 hives had orientation flights. Very busy day at the hives today.
 

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For anyone that wants some insight on weather in the South, here is a fun little video. These guys and gals are a real hoot.
https://youtu.be/SCA7DO5EcBQ
 

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Bees were bringing in bright yellow and brick red pollen today like it was mid spring. Every other bee was loaded down with pollen. All 5 hives had orientation flights. Very busy day at the hives today.
This really tells South from the North.
Winter finally restarted here with two day snow and ice precipitation.
Two months away from any possibility of a pollen.
:)
 

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In this video, Richard Noel, recently returned from Holiday in Hawaii, talks about the problems beekeepers face when winters are milder than normal. As you might expect, feed becomes a major concern as the bees are active and flying but not bringing in the stores.

Turn the volume up so you can hear the commentary.
https://youtu.be/xBLBFqPVHZI
 

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Good video. Interesting how he uses the foam with feeding; I see many beekeepers with peel away “inner cover” I know it’s good to inspect with these types (I bring a cloth with me) This is where I see the gaps in my learning. Upper entrances are needed aren’t they or is it a preference of the beekeeper? What do you think?
 

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Deb, I can't say for certain whether upper entrances are good or bad and there are a lot of opinions for and against here on Beesource. I can say that when I put the feeding shims with upper entrances on the hives, the bees start using them right away. I am going to try upper entrances above the QE's when I super up this spring. It is a different shim. The feeding shims are 1-1/2" thick with a 3/4" opening, the regular ones are only 3/4" thick. I need to modify them for a 3/8" × 4" entrance, same as the wide opening on an entrance reducer. So many pieces of equipment!
 

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Deb, I can't say for certain whether upper entrances are good or bad and there are a lot of opinions for and against here on Beesource. I can say that when I put the feeding shims with upper entrances on the hives, the bees start using them right away. I am going to try upper entrances above the QE's when I super up this spring. It is a different shim. The feeding shims are 1-1/2" thick with a 3/4" opening, the regular ones are only 3/4" thick. I need to modify them for a 3/8" × 4" entrance, same as the wide opening on an entrance reducer. So many pieces of equipment!
So much controversy in beekeeping! I don’t like when I second guess myself in spite of them working for me or I should say the bees. During the season we have entrances drilled into supers, some with little landing boards. Always have that upper entrance no matter what season, so to me when I see experienced beekeepers use the flexible inner covers I wonder why (except for ease of inspecting). The video you posted that guy had them.
It’s not just a location thing, because Mike Palmer does the same thing.
 

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So much controversy in beekeeping! I don’t like when I second guess myself in spite of them working for me or I should say the bees. During the season we have entrances drilled into supers, some with little landing boards. Always have that upper entrance no matter what season, so to me when I see experienced beekeepers use the flexible inner covers I wonder why (except for ease of inspecting). The video you posted that guy had them.
It’s not just a location thing, because Mike Palmer does the same thing.
In conditions like this, the upper entrance in winter is required - no IFs or BUTs (ask crofter :)........

20190202_160931.jpg

Flexible inner cover has many benefits:
- better bee control with defensive bees (no need to expose entire face of the box at once - and get a bee cloud in your face)
- better micro-climate in both summer and winter (no additional volume above the frames to be conditioned; especially important for smaller colonies)
- easier inspection for both bees and the human (when see-through plastic cover is used; especially in winter)
- warmer (Reflectix and similar materials can be used - in combinations or without)
- too lazy to continue....

I don't even know a single reason to use hard inner covers.
 

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A hard inner cover allows the winter cluster to move over the top bars from comb to comb, the flexible cover does not. The hard cover gives better support to foam insulation board when used for top insulation. Both types of covers work, flexible is less expensive. I use both types and notice no management differences between them other than in windy conditions.

I doubt flexible has a measurable effect on micro-climates, those are created in the cells and at the comb's surface and would not extend for any distance.
 
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