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Discussion Starter #61
Re: Going to use OTS

Russ- yes- most of what i'm going to do this year is in preparation for next year. I'll be using Mel Dissoelkoen's OTS method to make as many increases as I can in May and early July. Building as many strong single deeps with 1 or hopefully 2 med. supers by Fall. Feed to backfill the broodnest and get ready for next Spring. I've read that Checker Boarding should be done 9 weeks before 50 growing degree days. That would put me about 1 March. Does that seem possible. We had 24 degrees this morning and snow the last couple of days. You have any knowledge of how Walt used to make that decisions?
Eventually the hives I keep for honey Production I'm going to use CB. The hives I use for Nuc sales I'll be using Mel's OTS.
One step at a time- got to build as many deep singles as possible.
I've read as much as I could find from You and Squarepeg. Some of Walts Manuscripts can get a little confusing sometimes. By about the 3rd time through them - I'm getting things get sorted out. I'll try to let people know as I go.
Stay Safe
Jerry
 

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Re: Going to use OTS

Russ- yes- most of what i'm going to do this year is in preparation for next year.
Jerry:

From my very humble vantage point, this is wisdom. Getting your colonies pointing now in the direction where you want to be next year seems to provide the highest probability for success. It seems that any time I try to take a shortcut in beekeeping, it comes back around to bite me sooner rather than later.

As regards checkerboarding, Squarepeg is the undisputed resident expert in applying it- I am only a weekend pretender. I would also suggest you read clong's chronicle here on Beesource, as he is experienced in the procedure and has had good success with it.

Regarding timing- I am in the relatively warm Mid-South, so I get the sense that the weather is more forgiving for us down here taking gambles with hive manipulations early in the season than it might be for folks like you in more Northern latitudes. In my local area I have been watching for when the elms bloom (early/mid February for me) to get a sense of when it is time to Checkerboard, and still find that the bees have gotten a pretty good head start on making preparations to backfill the nest with tree nectar. Couple that with the fact that the weather is often cold, wet and highly variable around that time of year I am often left to consider whether it is both beneficial and worth the risk to Checkerboard.

All that said, if I were in your shoes there would be two main checks I would do to determine if/when to Checkerboard:

1. Find a reliable local bloom cues to help you know when seasonal development is appropriate- maybe it is maples, daffodils, crocuses, elms, henbit, etc.?

2. Once the cues suggest the timing might be right, take a look under the hood to see if the colony(s) are in good enough shape and have brooded-up sufficiently to support the manipulation. While I know that Walt routinely pointed out that Checkerboarding does not impact the integrity of the broodnest, I am still of the opinion that it does induce some stress upon the colony to perforate their overhead stores at such a critical time. Couple that with the fact that one often has to move the broodnest down (at least in my experience) to be able to checkerboard above, it is safe to assume that small clusters and/or colonies in ragged shape at the beginning of the season are not ideal candidates for Checkerboarding.

Finally, and coming full-circle- being prepared is over half the battle. In my case I always seem to have a shortage of drawn comb and so this becomes a limiting factor to Checkerboarding successfully. If you follow-through with feeding your colonies heavily all season, you might want to extract that sugar water and save it to feed back such that you can generate a stockpile of drawn comb, stored and ready to use this coming late winter.

I do look forward to reading about how your season unfolds- hopefully squarepeg and clong will chime-in too.

Thanks for your warm wishes- my family and I are well by God's grace. I sincerely hope you and your family are healthy too.

Russ
 

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Discussion Starter #63
Re: Going to use OTS

Russ- thank-you for your input. I'm excited about the coming season. More insulation and proper hive configuration for CB next season is going to hold my attention this season. I will spend some time on Clong chronicles. Thanks for the tip. If Clong or Squarepeg have any ideas about my N.E. Iowa - season 4b - location I'd appreciate there input.
The 10 pkgs I put in on the 11th had a tough first week with teens and 20s at night. They've got honey frames and looked good yesterday (finally in the 40's). Going to get new deeps on my overwintered hives this weekend. Supposed to be 50's and 60's. Looking forward to it! the first maple pollen was being brought in on the6th of April for a couple of days. Cold since.
I've been all mediums since I started in 2014. This 1 deep for a brood chamber is going to be new for me but I really think I understand Walt's reasoning and appreciate his years of trial and error. It must have been frustrating for him at many times especially the part about breaking through the honey cap while there is still time to. I understand why the timing is crucial. I'm looking forward to the challenge.
Good Hearing from you Russ and I'm looking forward to any information you can give. I'll try to keep you updated.
We are well here- and hope this finds you the same!
Jerry
 

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Re: Going to use OTS

I've been all mediums since I started in 2014. This 1 deep for a brood chamber is going to be new for me but I really think I understand Walt's reasoning and appreciate his years of trial and error.
Jerry:

Thank you for your feedback. While I won't presume to give you advice, I might suggest that if you are already standardized around all Mediums (as I am), you might want to wait on the Deeps until you have given CB'ing a try with all Mediums. I have heard decidedly mixed reviews from those who have tried CB'ing with all Mediums, but I wonder if you will be happy with the loss of flexibility you will have going to two different box sizes- just something to think about.

Good Hearing from you Russ and I'm looking forward to any information you can give. I'll try to keep you updated.
I for one look forward to hearing how your project develops this year.
 

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Discussion Starter #65
Re: Going to use OTS

Russ- Understand your concern for frame flexibility. I love being able to go anywhere with those medium frames. Some of the hives I plan on using for med. Nucs I won't be putting deeps on. This year with the slow down I'm not sure how I'm going to split that up. Got some Nuc orders to fill but my main concentration is going to be on getting all the increases done that I can and getting as many as I can into 1 Deep and 1 med. by July 1st. My pkgs I put in a week ago look good. They seem to really like those honey frames. they're working drawn comb and it's finally going to be warm enough this week for them to get out and busy. They're going to need another box quickly. Going to put drawn comb deeps on my overwintered hives this weekend. 60 degrees Sunday finally. Have a great day!
Jerry
 

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Discussion Starter #67
Re: Going to use OTS

Russ- How are your swarm traps so far? I just put my 6 out this week end. Last year I put them mostly in wooded areas. Only got one all year. I put them out in more open areas this year - on the edges of woods and treelines . We'll see.
So far all of my overwintered hives are doing good. All 6 are now in 1 med.- 1deep - 1 med. 8- frame configuration . I lost 7 hives through last winter. I'm hopeing Walts methods improve my overwintering percentage. I'm going to split (up here we're still 2 weeks from split time) these hives into 3 to 4 Nucs one with the old Queen in it. These Nucs will be built up for next year except for the Old Queen Nuc. Going to feed heavy and split again in July. We have a heavy basswood flow in July. These will be left and fed in the Fall for next year.
I bought 10 pkgs from a local supplier who gets Wards bees from California. Good honey making bees- I've gotten them before- very prolific - build up numbers in a hurry. They are in 10 frame deeps and doing really good. All have 3-4 frames of brood already. I put 1 med. box - drawn comb- on yesterday. This will be moved under the deep in one to two weeks (when she gets laying good in the med) At that time I'll be checkerboarding above the deep with 2 med.s of drawn comb. I think I can get this done before they get a honey dome. These are going to be my honey production for this year. I don't have enough 10 frame med.s for all of the supers so I'll be using 8 frame med.s for supers- offset with a closer strip. I've done this other years. Letting the queen have an unlimited broodnest . Any that get swarmy in May or June will get split.
You have to remember that our year starts a lot later then yours. Also we have a lot longer flow then you do. If it's a dry August that can be a problem but Fall flow starts end of Aug. for a month.
I suppose you're right in the middle of swarm season! Hope you're getting a few caught!
Have a good week.
Jerry
 

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Discussion Starter #68
Re: Going to use OTS

Russ - saw your post on other thread. Sounds like you've had a couple interesting swarm experiences. Good Luck!
 

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Re: Going to use OTS

You have to remember that our year starts a lot later then yours. Also we have a lot longer flow then you do. If it's a dry August that can be a problem but Fall flow starts end of Aug. for a month.
I suppose you're right in the middle of swarm season! Hope you're getting a few caught!
Jerry:

Thank you for your kind wishes- I sincerely appreciate it!

Participating in this forum routinely reminds me about the axiom that, 'beekeeping in local'.

This idea is certainly no more pronounced when it comes to manipulations which are developmentally specific, such as CB'ing.

So while I would expect the process is largely the same, you obviously are not going to start CB'ing in early/mid-February like Walt did.

Also, it will be interesting to see how CB'ing works for you in an environment where you have (as I understand it) a longer but maybe less intense flow duration that we do down below the Mason-Dixon line.

It has been an explosive start to swarm season in my location. To my knowledge I have had twelve swarms issue from my own stock, and I have been able to hive 11 of them. At this point last year I only had one hived swarm. Disappointingly, I have only had one swarm move into a swarm trap on its own volition which maybe helps clarify an experiment I tried this year which I'll maybe break-down in a later post when all the dust settles.

Best of luck to you in your prep efforts- the build-up will be upon you before you know it. Our blackberries are just about ready to bloom and then the flow will be on here in earnest.

Russ
 

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Discussion Starter #70
Re: Going to use OTS

Wow! Do you have equipment for all those swarms? They'll keep you busy for a while. I hope to catch a few this summer too. Maybe build some MP style Nucs though the summer for wintering in. 60's and 70's through this week. Anxious to get at the bee work. Going to start supering Sat.
Have a great week!
Jerry
 

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Re: Going to use OTS

Wow! Do you have equipment for all those swarms? They'll keep you busy for a while. I hope to catch a few this summer too. Maybe build some MP style Nucs though the summer for wintering in. 60's and 70's through this week. Anxious to get at the bee work. Going to start supering Sat.
Have a great week!
Jerry
Wow! is right. Every time I read a post like this I think I need to move south a few hundred miles. Not for a few years, yet. Maybe after I retire. A good swarm trap year for me is 2 swarms. I have yet to see a drone fly, but expect to on the next warm day.
 

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Re: Going to use OTS

Wow! Do you have equipment for all those swarms? They'll keep you busy for a while. I hope to catch a few this summer too. Maybe build some MP style Nucs though the summer for wintering in. 60's and 70's through this week. Anxious to get at the bee work. Going to start supering Sat.
Have a great week!
Jerry
Wow! is right. Every time I read a post like this I think I need to move south a few hundred miles. Not for a few years, yet. Maybe after I retire. A good swarm trap year for me is 2 swarms. I have yet to see a drone fly, but expect to on the next warm day.
Thanks, gents. I appreciate your feedback. While I am pleased to have hived quite a few swarms this year, I have also been glad to see first-hand the process of reproductive swarming from a couple different angles and I feel I have gained a better appreciation of just how much energy and emphasis an overwintered colony will invest into swarming when given the opportunity- it helps you more fully appreciate why the mother colony is so diminished in some respects following their swarming efforts- and why your prospects of surplus honey literally fly away.

I have three bottom boards left and I am furiously working to get more boxes and frames ready to use- my main goal for this year had been to begin to learn the art of managing overwintered colonies for maximum production, but it looks like I might need to shift my focus a bit to sustaining what has been gained numerically for next year.

FWIW- We down here in more Southern climates envy the long flow you all have up north. Our surplus gathering will be done here in early - mid June and then we only hope for a little help in a fall flow which might not start until late September.

So... every area and climate has its advantages and disadvantages when it comes to beekeeping- the trick it seems is trying to maximize the good and minimize the bad in one's particular area, which seems to comport with the idea of working with locally-adapted bees.

Thank you both again for your feedback. Have a great day.

Russ
 

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Discussion Starter #73
Re: Going to use OTS

Russ- In one of your other posts you said you had put med. boxes at bottom under your brood boxes and they weren't using them at all. I'm not sure about Walts view of that pollen box but I think he meant only put an empty box down there if that's all you have at the time. I started all my pkgs in 8 frame deeps. 2 weeks ago I put a med box on top. (These are all drawn comb) At that time the deeps had 3-4 frames of larvae and capped brood. Yesterday the top med. had 2-3 frames of larvae and capped brood. the bottom deep had 4-5 frames of brood. I moved all of the med.s to the bottoms where I hope they continue to lay and store pollen in the bottom med. Those bottom med.s will be there for the season and winter now. I have my entrance in the bottom inch of the deep brood box. No top hole. I plan on CBing next weekend. I have 10 like this. We'll see what happens.
Hope your new swarms are happy! Saw first drones yesterday. Will be doing some splits next weekend on my other med.s depending on the weather.
The apricots and plums are flowering this morning. Apples a few days off yet and the dandelions are finally here!
Have a nice weekend.
Jerry
 

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Re: Going to use OTS

Russ- In one of your other posts you said you had put med. boxes at bottom under your brood boxes and they weren't using them at all. I'm not sure about Walts view of that pollen box but I think he meant only put an empty box down there if that's all you have at the time.
Jerry:

Good observation- last year I did in-fact experiment with putting empty boxes on the very bottom of the stack of a few hives to see if they would draw out any new comb. I discovered that for the most part they would not.

My rationale for doing so was not to execute the 'pollen box' maneuver as described by Mr. Wright per se, but rather to experiment with a goal of mine to get whole boxes of comb drawn out for the purposes of systematic comb renewal.

I remain woefully drawn-comb poor, so I am trying to find a slam-dunk way to get comb drawn out in assembly-line fashion.

What I have found thus far is that this might be like searching for the mythical 'El Dorado'... though my current experiment of bisecting the broodnest seems to yield more acceptable results.

Best of success to you with your splitting efforts- I expect that based on your focus and preparation this will be a rousing success for you- and I look forward to reading all about your booming apiary.

Blackberries have just started blooming here and the flow is on in earnest. A few weeks of unbridled nectar-gathering glory :D.
 

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Discussion Starter #75
Re: Going to use OTS

Going to do strength evaluations tomorro . Here it's split time if strong enough, finally warm enough. Going to be a busy few days. Feeders will either be refilled- on weak ones- or taken out. Will let you know what I find.
Jerry
 

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Discussion Starter #77
Re: Going to use OTS

Russ- Did my splits yesterday. Split my 6 med- deep- med hives into 6 more med- deep- med hives. Evened out resources between the two - placed side by side. They looked like they were coming and going about evenly out of both. Sprayed a little lemon oil - sugar water on the front of each hive as I went. Confuse them on which one they might prefer . I had drawn comb for everything. Weather was nice. Apple trees and pears are in blossom. All of my hives took about a gallon of sugar water the last couple of weeks through the cold weather. They really made a lot of brood through the whole colder stretch though.
Next Fri- Sat - will be checking to see which hives have the old Queens and which have new Queen cells. Will be putting together a dozen or better Nucs from several other med frame hives next week end. Those will be made from my overwintered Queens that I pulled old Queens from on Thrus. and notched on Thrus. These Queens were easy to find, I marked them in end of March. A couple weren't real strong- hopefully they'll have a couple of queen cells in each hive.
All through with manipulations until July then. The deep combination hives will be left intact for honey and overwintering. I'll be putting 2 med. supers on the 12 deep combination hives- drawn comb and feed- on next weekend. 6 will have Queens- 6 will have Queen cells, hopefully. Because I was going to do the split I didn't CB earlier. We'll see how it goes.
Unconventional as far as Walter would consider it. Hopefully my overwintering % will be better next year. Making bees this year. Maybe this summer will be a good honey year too.
Are your swarm all getting used to there new homes. Our first swarms are a week or so away yet. Lots of drones here.
Hope things are well there.
Jerry
 

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Re: Going to use OTS

Russ- Did my splits yesterday.

...

Are your swarm all getting used to there new homes. Our first swarms are a week or so away yet. Lots of drones here.
Hope things are well there.
Jerry:

Sounds like you are off and running now- good for you. Hopefully your approach will be a reliable means of making increase and you find yourself with more bees than you know what to do with before you know it.

I can't believe that I am ready for swarm season to be over, but I am. It has been a good year on the increase front and all the new colonies seem to be doing well thus far. I did a quick 'tilt up' of nine (9) of the hived swarms this weekend and they have between 7 and 10 frames drawn out thus far and I am not providing them any supplemental feed.

All is well for us down here by God's grace, and I sincerely hope the same for you and your family.

Best of success with your splitting efforts- glad to read it is going well thus far.

Russ
 

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Discussion Starter #79
Re: Going to use OTS

Wow- A pleasant surprise! Went into all 10 of my splits from May 14th. These were all in med.- deep- med.s. after the initial split. Used all drawn foundation and evened out resources at split times. All 10 of the queenless hives had queen cells! I'm tickled pink. From the observations as I went the queenless hives had less bees (drift) but they've all got 1-2 frames of capped brood to hatch during this period.
All hives with queens where given CB with drawn comb and look to be ready to take off. The hives with queen cells were left as is and openings squeezed down for now. Got my overwintered hives to check and super today. Running out of drawn comb will be using foundation from here on in. Apple blossom almost over. Could use a little rain.
Have a safe and prosperous day!
Jerry
 

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Good on you, Jerry. Glad to hear all your splits are off to a roaring start.

You may have already mentioned this, but have you ever contacted Mel directly? He seems to be a very generous guy and you might be able to hear directly from him about any questions you have about your approach?

Again, glad all is progressing well.

Have a great day.

Russ
 
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