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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I live in the frozen Northland. In years past I fed pollen patties to build up populations for spring flows. My colonies are generally strong and healthy and swarming has become an issue. So..., I'm wondering if the increased population because of feeling pollen patties has led to too many bees in the boxes and then to early swarm prep. I want honey so i want a good population of foragers but if the price is losing swarms I'm prepared to reconsider this approach. Who has really considered the correlation between early feeding of pollen patties and swarming?
Thank you!
Lee
 

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In my opinion you don’t want to suppress one of the best things about honeybees, their prolific nature. If you practice a couple of the better swarm prevention techniques you can have bigger populations for bigger honey crops. I find myself reversing, pulling frames of capped brood (for mating nucs) putting supers on early, putting more supers on under those, i just really like to keep things growing.
 

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Grins, I've experienced the same thing and have adjusted the timing and amount of supplemental feeding of pollen sub. I think it depends on what your individual goals are. I am not interested in intentionally expanding or making splits I really don't want or need, that seems to happen naturally without my help. ;)

When I was adding pollen patties early to promote brood expansion I always had a much more difficult time managing swarming in the spring. If I would have been making splits and buying queens it would have been a terrific practice, but my main goals were to keep the colonies intact for the main flow and not so much on splitting.

I'll still feed pollen patties now but I don't add them as early as in the past. I wait until the bees have intermittent days of foraging to gather tree pollen and then add patties to bridge the gap on non-flying weather days. Then the bees seem to build up at a pace parallel to natural springtime cycles and the colonies are at their peak at the right time. Works for me anyway.
 

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I am trying to do what Mike does as we have the same goals. The problem is predicting the weather. I will be doing a little experiment this year on my two hives. My daughter had a dead out so I do want to make a split this year. I will feed pollen patties to the hive I intend to split about 6 weeks before the date pollen is usually available. I will feed the other hive 3 weeks before pollen availability. Weather is a factor in pollen availability, but more importantly for cleansing flights (rain/temp) and avoiding chilled brood (temps). Anyone willing to opine how often they need to make a cleansing flight when being fed patties? J
 

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I was given advice from a great beekeeper; super early. It gives them room to expand. Think about when the maple starts flowing, the bees love maple nectar and pollen. Think feeding (if needed) about 4-6 weeks before your Spring flow; this all depends on your goals for your hives.
Again, don’t be afraid to super early, and this advise came from Mike Palmer. It works.
 

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If you feed them early, do swarm prevention in the form of hive manipulation. I fed early this year and split some and manipulated others. Keep in mind that my season starts months before yours. I'm getting queen cells from those that weren't expanded and the others are filling in frames with comb (I'm short comb) and humming along well.

No feeding can work well too. My two biggest hives had plenty of stores on them so they got nothing extra. Of these, #1 was the first hive I saw to start producing drones out of all the hives, but checker-boarding another box on kept it from swarming.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Grins, I've experienced the same thing and have adjusted the timing and amount of supplemental feeding of pollen sub. I think it depends on what your individual goals are. I am not interested in intentionally expanding or making splits I really don't want or need, that seems to happen naturally without my help. ;)

When I was adding pollen patties early to promote brood expansion I always had a much more difficult time managing swarming in the spring. If I would have been making splits and buying queens it would have been a terrific practice, but my main goals were to keep the colonies intact for the main flow and not so much on splitting.

I'll still feed pollen patties now but I don't add them as early as in the past. I wait until the bees have intermittent days of foraging to gather tree pollen and then add patties to bridge the gap on non-flying weather days. Then the bees seem to build up at a pace parallel to natural springtime cycles and the colonies are at their peak at the right time. Works for me anyway.
Mike, thanks, I don't want to expand and I'm not really interested in selling nucs although I did promise one to a friend who needs them to keep his varroa colony alive. (He's my doctor and a friend well out of range of my hives) In years past I have started feeding patties as early as Feb 1. Last year was a big swarm year here because, I think, our spring was 3 weeks late and I had started feeding in anticipation of a normal timetable. I haven't started feeding yet but will soon. I was 'decided' last fall to feed and order queens for every strong colony, then just sell the splits this spring. I'm just going into my fourth year so I would like to get a better handle on swarming and learn more before I start selling nucs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I was given advice from a great beekeeper; super early. It gives them room to expand. Think about when the maple starts flowing, the bees love maple nectar and pollen. Think feeding (if needed) about 4-6 weeks before your Spring flow; this all depends on your goals for your hives.
Again, don’t be afraid to super early, and this advise came from Mike Palmer. It works.
I've been studying the Walt Wright methods as well as Matt's opening of the broodnest, I'll be doing both this spring.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Yes it does make them bigger and by doing that they can get to the point of swarming quicker. Just buy a queen and make a 3 frame split early let em draw a couple of frames and sell the nuc and get some honey also.
That sounds like a good plan for when I'm ready to sell nucs, thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks to everyone, I'm going into my fourth season this year and starting to put the piece together better, and realizing there are more pieces which is exactly what keeps it interesting. I know I could order queens and split them and I may get to that point in a year or so but I don't feel I know enough to sell nucs yet, I'd hesitate to buy a nuc from me. I'd really like to get a handle on swarming so that's my focus this year. I'm going to start feeding pollen patties soon. In spite of the 2 feet of snow on the ground the calendar says flows start in a month or so.
 

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Spits with a bought queen is to valuable. For later on in the year. The need for a queen. Surplus are to be sold off in the spring and start over the program over. The only thing I normally buy are queens. Part my stainable beekeeping
 

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In my area, adding early pollen patties pretty much guarantees swarming. Our swarming season is April 1 through the first week in May. I have 2 major flows I can get honey from. Maple generally starts about the third week in March and blackberry generally starts the second or third week in May. After that, we have drought the rest of the summer. Any hive that has plenty of food through the winter will give me a good maple harvest, provided the weather allows the bees to fly. The maple flow has a strong bearing on swarming. If it is a good year, the bees will fill every available cell with nectar in a few days. Having too many bees pretty much guarantees they will backfill the brood nest and swarm. The buildup through the maple flow makes the bees for the blackberry flow which is what everyone in the area wants. My advice is to figure out what date you want a huge force of foragers and work backwards in time to when you want those eggs to be laid (about 42 days from laid date to foraging). If you want a really large foraging team on July 1, I would start adding patties about 55 days before that on May 7. In my area everything is in bloom from mid March through June so the only reason to add patties is if the weather keeps them from foraging pollen which may stunt the growth of the hive. Then, I will add a small amount. I hope this helps
 

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I want my bees swarming big when the dandelions and fruit are blooming. I don't think you want more hives so just consider pulling the queen with a three frame split when you see any swarm preparation. Kill all the cells but the best two and let them raise and mate a queen. When that is done, kill the old queen and reunite the split which means basically just stack it back on after pinching the queen. You can do it by putting a queen excluder on top of your queenless parent hive, put on a super, put on a queen excluder and put the split on top. Add supers above and below the split as required. Recombine after the colony has requeened. Just make sure you didn't leave those second and third wave swarm cells When thinning cells down to two. If you make the split before swarm cells, only one wave will usually be started.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
In my area, adding early pollen patties pretty much guarantees swarming. Our swarming season is April 1 through the first week in May. I have 2 major flows I can get honey from. Maple generally starts about the third week in March and blackberry generally starts the second or third week in May. After that, we have drought the rest of the summer. Any hive that has plenty of food through the winter will give me a good maple harvest, provided the weather allows the bees to fly. The maple flow has a strong bearing on swarming. If it is a good year, the bees will fill every available cell with nectar in a few days. Having too many bees pretty much guarantees they will backfill the brood nest and swarm. The buildup through the maple flow makes the bees for the blackberry flow which is what everyone in the area wants. My advice is to figure out what date you want a huge force of foragers and work backwards in time to when you want those eggs to be laid (about 42 days from laid date to foraging). If you want a really large foraging team on July 1, I would start adding patties about 55 days before that on May 7. In my area everything is in bloom from mid March through June so the only reason to add patties is if the weather keeps them from foraging pollen which may stunt the growth of the hive. Then, I will add a small amount. I hope this helps
Thanks Dudelt, I'm feeding pollen now to build up the hives I want strong for early flows. I'm devoting this year to learning about swarm prevention so I'm not going to short circuit it with splits, trying instead to kill the triggers. You made a really good point in a different thread about leaving space below the broodnest open. I plan on doing that this year along with early supers and opening the broodnests. I checked sugar today and everyone looks healthy, one looks like it's booming which is not ideal this time of year, it is the one that swarmed twice last year and this daughter will be sold in a split to my doctor and friend to feed his varroa colony. :D
Lee
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I want my bees swarming big when the dandelions and fruit are blooming. I don't think you want more hives so just consider pulling the queen with a three frame split when you see any swarm preparation. Kill all the cells but the best two and let them raise and mate a queen. When that is done, kill the old queen and reunite the split which means basically just stack it back on after pinching the queen. You can do it by putting a queen excluder on top of your queenless parent hive, put on a super, put on a queen excluder and put the split on top. Add supers above and below the split as required. Recombine after the colony has requeened. Just make sure you didn't leave those second and third wave swarm cells When thinning cells down to two. If you make the split before swarm cells, only one wave will usually be started.
Hey Vance, I was going to go with your strategy last fall, split everything that seems strong forst part of May, but changed my mind during the winter. I need to learn more about preventing swarming so I've set aside this year for that. In my perfect world I'd have my 5 production colonies and come up with a system to prevent swarming without knocking down populations by splitting. I'm still a noob and even I would hesitate to buy a nuc from me. :D. We'll see how it goes this year, I'm still learning and I learn by doing so we'll see how well I do with swarm trigger prevention this year. I may well just opt to split every strong colony next year and buy queens for them all. I still have two bloodlines I really like, thrifty in the winter and good spring build up for honey production with no swarming. I read recently in ABJ that bloodlines revert quickly to unknown traits after a few generations so this is another path I'm keeping my eyes open on.
Lee
 
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