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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This year I decided to start with 1/2 of the packages at the end of March and the other half mid April. I've started mid-April packages before but never started a package at the end of March

I have enough drawn foundation to start each pkg on 5-6 frames of drawn and the rest undrawn foundation.

I plan to feed and provide pollen patties, but are there any other things I need to be aware of starting so early.

What are the pros and cons and management issues that I may have not thought about with this in eastern Massachusetts?

Thanks
PS I won't have hurt feelings if you say this was a stupid idea!
 

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I think it foolish to start packaged bees before natural forage is available. Peter Borst might tell us what happened to all the packages that were installed at Cornell in early April. Then the weather turned horrid with cold and snow. The bees broke down with Chalkbrood and never really recovered.
 

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For years and years we started 2# packages first week of Wisconsin April, as soon as we could get them. If the weather was cold, which was usually, we kept the packages in a warm environment, installing them quickly while still warm and able to climb the comb quickly. It is important to place the queen in a way to assure she stays in the cluster. It is also important to have enough feed for them to access if the weather stays horrid for a couple more weeks. We necked them down to the smallest entrance reducer.
There was a year or two when the snow was higher than the tops of the telescopes. We wouldn't have chosen to install in this environment but if the bees came in and there was 2' of snow, they had to be put in. This was on full drawn comb, with frames of honey and pollen. A couple times we filled empty comb with syrup for supplement. Installing between 400-600 every year, we never had more than about 1-2% loss, which was consistent no matter what the weather, and which we attributed to queens.
I would listen to those local who would know your climate. Here in Wisconsin it is normal to install in very early April. While there is usually a bit of pollen coming in, sometimes the bees can't fly much to take advantage. It can be COLD! We had no chalkbrood problems. Maybe his queens got chilled?
There is little benefit if the feed necessary and the weather being as it can be doesn't allow much growth, but most years here the earlier in April they are installed the better. There are enough warm days in between the cold to benefit them. Getting that brood going meant early bees for our early nectar flows and ultimately a better honey crop.
Sheri
 

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I agree with all that Sheri stated. In a panic, the moutaincamp method will work. It is however safer, but not maybe as profitable, to install packages when the dandelions start to bloom. How lucky do ya' feel?

Roland
 

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How lucky do ya' feel?Roland
:lpf: Yeah, that is the right question, isn't it? You can do everything you can think of to prepare but the weather can just work against you. When pushing the envelope you really need to consider the worst case scenario and how much you might lose if that scenario comes about.
Sheri
 

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In the north I would say no earlier than April 15th. What's up with that date... tax day, studs have to be off cars that day and bees can be beeeegun...lol

Really though, I only feed them sugar water 1:1 and nothing else. Why you would want to start them in March is beyond me. :s

Do ya feel lucky punk...well do ya? lol
 

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PS I won't have hurt feelings if you say this was a stupid idea!
It's a stupid idea...lol Hey, you might get lucky. I have known a few that have done that, but sometimes it back fires on them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
How lucky do ya' feel?

Roland
Willing to take a chance with half my packages. I guess that's why I'm not having them ALL coming this early, but I am trying to think of all the worst case scenarios I can and be as prepared as possible for snow, freezing rain or record cold with attentive feeding and fussing and 4-wheel drive.

Sheri, Liked the comment about making sure the queen was placed to stay in the cluster. I liked to hope that would have occurred to me, but it might not have. Thanks

This is what the temps are at the end of March are here. Quite a range is possible!
average high 52°F low 31°F
record high 92°F (1998) record low19°F (1965)
 

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I'll tell you why I start them in March. They is those hobbiest that can't get package shipped from the south. So in early May I start shaking packages from my March package bees. By that time I have a lot of bees and make my money back.:D Avg package sell for $68-$78 + shipping if you are getting them from the south. There is more money in bees then honey, but I do like the price of honey right now too.
 

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Sheri - although this is slightly off topic, Was there not a UW Madison Prof that suggested feeding in January to stimulate brood production in overwintered colonies??? The problems associated would be applicable to this discussion.

Roland
 
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