Last week with temp in the 50 -60 would have been my choice to start feeding. As it is I was unable to get to it during the week so I mixed a 1:1 sugar solution yesterday and fed it today when the rain let up even though the temp was mid 40s. Last year I fed on March 11th temp in the 40s.
I disrupt the hives as little as possible at first but I use the black frame replace type feeders so I have to open and remove two frames. I had two hives with half the bees of the other two so I went ahead and set the top super off and moved the bottom one, cleaned the bottom board of dead bees and reset the top super, now the only super, on the bb.
I do not think tearing the frames apart just so I can look in there does any good. The two stronger hives I just installed the feeder and fed and closed back up.
I'll propbably reverse supers next visit in about 3 weeks, see if the two hives need their second super returned depending on feed intake and populations.
Been thinking about getting a group on here that is more local, like steuben, chemung, schyler county area. Watch for it.
As you've discovered, some think reversing is good, helps strengthen the colony and reduce the probability of swarming. Others think it is very disruptive.
What I have discoverd is that frequently the colony tells me whether or not to reverse.
For instance, right now I have inspected 12 of my 14 colonies. I reversed 5, because the queen and brood nest was in the top box, and the bottom box had some pollen, honey, and a lot of empty comb. Hi in the 50's and 60's, low in the 40's and maybe upper 30's occasionally, now. So the cluster has loosened, brood nest is expanding, and the bees in those colonies were all upstairs.
By reversing, I put the brood nest on the bottom, and the natural incliination to move upward is encouraged as they expand their brood nest. Apparently reversing is an early variation of what Walt Wright is describing as checkerboarding. You encourage the bees to grow into available space, and with space available, they want to fill it and not swarm.
Now, if the brood nest is already downstairs, of course you don't reverse. If the brood nest spans the gap and is in both boxes, no, you don[t reverse. You look at the colony, and try to anticipate what's best for them. And your management will change as you enter your warmer weather.
Good luck to you this season!
I used to start reversing at the end of April...mid-May, and try to finish before the bees went to apples. I found that most of the bees had re-established in the top by apples and reversing had really done nothing to hepl swarming.
Now, I add two supers at the beginning of May when I see a very few dandelion blooms and reverse on the dandelion flow. Seems to work better for me. Most swarming is eliminated, and colonies that persist start later giving me a chance to get to the bees.
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