I need to vent and unfortunately this forum gets the brunt of it. My questions are where to find what I'm missing. I've read the books, but I'm either reading the same beginner books ( this is the bee, the queen, the workers. This is a hive. This is how you install a package. This is the main diseases. Etc.). What I really need is more intermediate info that new classes or books don't seem to provide. I never seem to see any classes offered other than rote beginner or master level.
For instance, I've read all the theory for alcohol wash to check varroa levels. 300 bees/ cup bees mason jar, shake, filter, understood. The questions I have is how the devil do you collect the bees? Shake them into a tub? They're always moving, flying. How do you get them into an actual measure, much less the jar? I've done the sticky boards, but count levels and when to maybe treat vary greatly. No clear consensus.
Pollen/early spring/ nectar flows. Maple big source of pollen and nectar. Got it. Read all through the info at the NASA honeybee site, Wikipedia nectar sources, Pollen.com. So was I supposed to throw on the honey supers at the first sign of pollen intake? Did that start my flow? Fed 1:1 and pollen patties since 1st of January and put on supers 5 weeks ago and not a single frame of foundation drawn out. Brood nests looking good. Queens laying, boxes reversed. Yet nothing. Should I have started a brood build up earlier and I've missed the flow? Peach trees blooming now, Bradford pears almost done. Forsythia, tulip trees blooming, blueberries not quite, but nothing is happening in what has been priorly described to me as this massive intake/buildup I should be seeing. Good re-filling of the reversed empty deep, but nothing spectacular. Not tons of new comb, and certainly no build out of the shallows' foundation. And no, I don't have a queen excluder on.
Splits. I've read all the theories there too. All I hear is either 1) too early, not enough drone ( which my hives seem to indicate. Some drone brood noted, but not what I'd call lots) or 2) Everyone in the south is already splitting, making nucs, swarming. I don't seem to be falling in that category either. Would love more info on wintering, managing nucs, but most info goes too technical or too simplistic. Trying to understand why a split isn't a nuc, what a side by side is, how do you keep them from rapidly outgrowing (my biggest question) into deeps. It sounds by definition, a nuc is queen, brood, and stores. If we're always supposed to have one on hand to support our production hives as a source for a spare queen, brood frames, etc, I could see in a week or two it would always be ready to expand into a full size deep. Any info out there on size control?
I've got a baited swarm trap in my yard. But why does everything I've read say I've got to place it high in a tree? The ground doesn't work?
I know beekeeping isn't an exact science. I wish I had a local mentor. Local club always meets when I'm working, so no answers there. I just wish there was more information out there for not newbie/not expert person like myself. Books, online classes, I don't care, just point me to the intermediate corner. I'll put the dunce cap on myself.
So I throw myself at your mercy. Is there or where is there info on flows/dearths? Please don't tell me about "fat bees" vs the pollen collectors. I consider it a good day if I can find the queen. Judging bee size on the landing board, well surely there has got to be a better way in judging flows. My bees have never turned down sugar water feeds, so that isn't a help either. If they are bringing in pollen, are they bringing in nectar? So when should the shallows go on? Do I wait for my drone level to build up before doing splits for well mated queens, or is there a tempurature component as well? How do I get new comb drawn without a constant feed? Isn't that what a flow is for? Is there something wrong with my bees I don't know about? And how the devil do you get a measured amount of bees from a hive into the mason jar?
Lost and confused.