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Discussion Starter #1
I use the Mountain Camp dry sugar method and it works well for me, especially in the late winter, early spring when the bees really began chowing down. If the bees have moved to the top box (I overwinter in three mediums here in the TX panhandle) and they are using the sugar, will reversal immediately endanger them becasue the brood have been moved to the bottom and middle hive body and they would have to go across the top hive body now to reach the sugar?
 

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I have top ask the same question. Why are you feeding sugar? Are the bees in jeopardy of starving. I know Dallas just got a foot of snow. Is it warm enough to feed syrup yet? Are the bees able to take regular flights? Are the bees foraging yet in Texas? If it's warm enough , you should feed syrup.

And, when is your first flow...is it Dandelion or some such. How soon till that? When do you observe the first swarms preparations of the year..when meaning what flow. You don't really need to reverse until then.
 

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"Why are you feeding sugar? Are the bees in jeopardy of starving."

Last spring, March 27th I think, at the beginning of the flow in the
Panhandle we had a blizzard blow through and kill everything and that was the first hit. Then drought. bees went into the winter low on stores and now have little or nothing. Even with the sugar I've had at least one die from what appeared to be starvation.

" I know Dallas just got a foot of snow. Is it warm enough to feed syrup yet? Are the bees able to take regular flights?"

Amarillo has had snow on the ground for several weeks now and the temps at this time of year are really up and down. Night temps have been teens and lower to mid 20 and daytime highs for the last couple of weeks mostly in the upper 30s so I think its still a bit cold for syrup. However, scheduled to warm up soon into the 40s and tomorrow 52. At any rate, it hasn't been warm enough for the bees to take regular flights.

" Are the bees foraging yet in Texas? If it's warm enough , you should feed syrup."

In the Central and Southern part of the state, the bees have probably been foraging for weeks. Amarillo is way north, close to Colorado.

"And, when is your first flow...is it Dandelion or some such. How soon till that? When do you observe the first swarms preparations of the year..when meaning what flow. You don't really need to reverse until then."

The first major flow will begin in early to mid March. Here in town there are probably some trees that will provide something a little earlier. In the past, I've seen the first pollen begin to come in from something in mid to late February.The typical time for first swarms that I've seen is mid to late April. However, I have at least two hives that are full of bees. I'll check them tomorrow to see about brood and such, but I thought the idea of reversing was to do it a few weeks before the main flow?? This is my forth year and this forum has been my mentor.
 

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> However, scheduled to warm up soon into the 40s and tomorrow 52. At any rate, it hasn't been warm enough for the bees to take regular flights.

You could feed syrup at those temps. Use a feeder that is in contact with the cluster...such as a feeder pail on the inner cover escape hole.


>The first major flow will begin in early to mid March.
The typical time for first swarms that I've seen is mid to late April.
I'll check them tomorrow to see about brood and such, but I thought the idea of reversing was to do it a few weeks before the main flow??

I find the best time to reverse is just as they reach the point of swarm preparations. From what you have said, I would say about April 1. Too early, and the cluster will have moved up. Then when the flow happens they are in the same situation as if they hadn't been reversed at all...cluster at top of cavity, with incoming nectar competing for space with the queen.

Waiting allows the bees time to build up and so you can identify those colonies most prone to swarming...after all it is genetic. Oh oh...now I've said it. Some will start at the drop of a hat as Root used to say. Some won't hardly want to swarm at all. If you can reverse at the correct time...identified by you over the years, some will have queen cell cups with an egg or day old larvae. At that time or just before is when I find reversing to be the most useful.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
OK, Thanks Michael. But why not reverse and add a couple of drawn out supers at the same time, or in the situation that I think I'm in where there are very little stores remaining, just add the supers and not reverse at all? M. Bush suggests that the main thing is to keep the brood nest open, and he doesn't think it necessary to reverse at all. If there is adequate space for brood production, which there is now, and I add some supers, they should have plenty of space for the queen to lay and also for the workers to store nectar when the main flow begins, right?
 

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If there is adequate space for brood production, which there is now, and I add some supers, they should have plenty of space for the queen to lay and also for the workers to store nectar when the main flow begins, right?
I agree. That's what I do. I add two mediums just before the Dandelion bloom. But, that's not enough for many colonies. So when the flow gets going, I go into the hives and look. Reversing does more than just add empty comb above the queen.

My bees often have extra combs of honey in the top box. It's usually crystallized to some extent. Once the flow starts, these crystallized combs will sit there taking up space. Space needed for colony expansion. Reversing places that honey on the bottom where the bees deal with it...move up the liquid and throw away the crystals.

Reversing also gets me into the broodnest for an early exam. I can examing the colony from under the boxes more easily than from above...called interlooking. Examining from above means removing frames from the broodnest. Examining from below means spreading the frames like the leaves of a book.

Reversing places what were the bottom combs on top. These bottom combs are often filled with old pollen, and a bit tattered from being down near the entrance. The bees clean out the combs, rebuild the damaged areas, and get them ready for brood rearing and honey storage.

It's also a good swarm preventitive manipulation...I prefer not to split my bees as swarm prevention...until I have exhausted every other option. I want my colonies to remain as strong as possible to produce big honey crops. Adding supers alone will mean doing something to those colonies that persist in swarm preparations. That usually means splitting. In my area, that means reducing the eventual population, resulting in smaller honey crops. Many of those persistant colonies respond well to reversing, and give up swarming preps. If they don't at this point, you know which colonies have to be dealt with further.

No manipulation is written in stone and perfect. You need a variety of management tools to deal with honeybees. All colonies don't do things the same way.
Does that make sense?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Not completely clear on the "interlooking" thing. I don't see how one could tell too much from just looking at the bottoms and up into the frame from below "spreading the frames like a book". Sure you could see queen cells in the making but I wouldn't think you could see brood very easily? Do you just lay the box on its side and check each one?

How frequently do you check your hives during the flow? I thought that was a time you could pretty much leave them alone, but perhaps that is one of the times that demands the greatest attention i.e., ensuring bees not backing up the brood nest, supplying adequate super area, making sure no swarm prep is underway and if it is doing something about it?
 

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Not completely clear on the "interlooking" thing. I don't see how one could tell too much from just looking at the bottoms and up into the frame from below "spreading the frames like a book". Sure you could see queen cells in the making but I wouldn't think you could see brood very easily? Do you just lay the box on its side and check each one?

How frequently do you check your hives during the flow? I thought that was a time you could pretty much leave them alone, but perhaps that is one of the times that demands the greatest attention i.e., ensuring bees not backing up the brood nest, supplying adequate super area, making sure no swarm prep is underway and if it is doing something about it?
By interlooking, I can see what I need to. I don't have to look at the brood in every hive. I'm looking for two things, primarily. Queen cells, of course. Also amount of brood. One of my yard sheet entries is how many frames of brood at reversal. This tells me how they wintered, and how the queen is laying. This is on the Dandelion/Fruit bloom...not the main flow which for me is a month later.

I look further at some colonies. These I do a complete inspection on.

I take apart colonies with cells started...even if just 1 cup with an egg. I evaluate the brood pattern, look for disease, count brood frames. Look for pollen/honey stores.

I also look at any colonies not making the grade, looking for disease and queen problems.

I look at the rest of the colonies later in the season for disease check and queen evaluation. All colonies have their brood looked at once a season. I don't check colonies during the flow that are strong productive colonies. Rather, I look at the colonies that appear to be behind. Once the main flow has begun, there really isn't any reason to check the broodnest.

When I reverse, I lay the hive on it's back...lay it right down. Take the bottom board off. Look up into the hive to see how far down the cluster is. I crack apart the top box...no lifting involved here...the hive is on its back...no working against gravity, with an all bent and twisted back. I look up intop the hive, count brood, look for cells, etc. When I'm finished with the top box, it is placed on the bottom board. The middle box...I use 3...is checked next, and placed on the first. The last box is checked and placed on top. Supers are replaced and additional supers are added as needed.
 
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