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I am in the Charlotte NC area and have not had a full week of bees clustering yet. Yesterday I inspected the hives and extra comb is being built, with drone eggs. I have a lot of worker brood as well. Is anyone else experiencing this and how are you changing your management hive?

I added an extra medium box with drawn comb and pulled some of the brood up and replaced with empty comb frames. I do not want a February swarm.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Kcnc1, I am attempting to discuss these issues in the Winter Beekeeping- Southeast sub forum. I am feeding pollen sub, both patties and dry feed, and monitoring capped stores levels as weather permits. I do believe we are likely to see swarm prep way earlier than usual this year and would encourage everyone in the southeast to monitor their spring build up and take appropriate measures based on what they see in the hives and throw the calendar out the window. This is going to be an interesting spring no doubt. I have drone cells in some of my hives up here in Richmond too. Waaaay too early.
 

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I made the video below on January 12, 2020. Quite amazing the amount of pollen coming in. The following day, I went through most of my colonies and found brood in all of them, even the small swarm I captured in October. Initially, I saw this as a natural response to not only the pollen coming in, but also to the lack of pollen last Fall due to a rather strong drought we had (both pollen and nectar). I suspect that the bees may sense a population deficit (again due to poor conditions last Fall) and are looking to "bulk up". I think their timing is pretty good.

In general, I don't go out of my way to feed pollen in the winter (or early spring). Rarely do we ever have extended periods when there's not at least a tiny amount trickling in. I see this as a natural throttling effect on bees. Sure, adding pollen and sugar will no doubt boost brood production, but I'm not sure I want to work that hard keeping ahead of my bees in February and March. I've played that game before and find myself getting in trouble with bees burning too much food in March (the month when we typically see periods of freezing temps). Certainly nothing wrong with stimulating brood - its one of the many "knobs" beekeepers adjust for optimal results for their management style.



https://youtu.be/gnWyK0W87oo
 

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Kcnc1, I am attempting to discuss these issues in the Winter Beekeeping- Southeast sub forum. I am feeding pollen sub, both patties and dry feed, and monitoring capped stores levels as weather permits. I do believe we are likely to see swarm prep way earlier than usual this year and would encourage everyone in the southeast to monitor their spring build up and take appropriate measures based on what they see in the hives and throw the calendar out the window. This is going to be an interesting spring no doubt. I have drone cells in some of my hives up here in Richmond too. Waaaay too early.
Sounds like you are opposite of us. Our winter here seems to have been a bit colder than usual. Last year we had a moister and cooler year than average, and had several records tied/broken.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Astro, I do not know if it is a response to a bee deficit or not. Some of my hives had very large numbers, 10+ frames, of bees and these hives also had the most frames of brood. They also had a full super of capped syrup snd syrup in the comb that was being cleared for the queen to lay in. What I did not see was a lot of pollen for the reasons you stated with our fall dearth. I have had Ultrabee out for the bees since October and they are hitting it harder than ever these past few weeks. I just this Sat put patties in the hives with the hope that they will eat the patty and store the pollen sub for later when it will finally get too cold for them to forage for it. I was planning on doing my Spring splits the first week of April, but I swear that a couple of hives look like I should be splitting them now. Need to watch carefully and be ready to pull some queens out or super them early if things get too crowded.

Elmer, I have been in VA for 26 years. This winter has had more days above 50° so far than any other I can recall. I work outside quite a bit so I kinda pay attention to things like this.
 

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Astro, I do not know if it is a response to a bee deficit or not. Some of my hives had very large numbers, 10+ frames, of bees and these hives also had the most frames of brood.
What I meant (which is totally just a guess) is that the "winter bees" population was diminished due to the 3+ weeks of drought right around our typical goldenrod bloom. The goldenrod did bloom, but the pollen and classical goldenrod nectar smell was nearly absent this past fall. Again, total speculation on my part, but I usually don't see this much brood in early January, so something seems different this year.
 

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This thread is interesting to me, I found new comb built under the inner cover with worker eggs and brood. Didn't want to pull frames at this time of year, due to the fear of harming the queen. Going to watch closely, we have a lot of winter ahead.
 

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This thread is interesting to me, I found new comb built under the inner cover with worker eggs and brood. Didn't want to pull frames at this time of year, due to the fear of harming the queen. Going to watch closely, we have a lot of winter ahead.
I am near Chattanooga Tennessee and it has been a mild winter so far, but February and March are still around the corner. Weather men struggle to get it right day to day...
 

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This thread is interesting to me, I found new comb built under the inner cover with worker eggs and brood. Didn't want to pull frames at this time of year, due to the fear of harming the queen. Going to watch closely, we have a lot of winter ahead.
Glad to see this whole thread OP and all. Was just coming to see what others are thinking. Abnormally warm thus far, but we often have some of our coldest spells & our rare snows in Feb/March. Strange winter all around.
 

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Was watching my bees yesterday and about every third one was returning with pollen. I haven't deep inspected, but suspect as others have mentioned - brood is present. Cold temps (for us anyway) are forecast to be returning tonight with lows into the mid-20.s forecast at night next week - highs in the 40's.
 

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I suspect that the bees may sense a population deficit (again due to poor conditions last Fall) and are looking to "bulk up". I think their timing is pretty good.
AstroBee:

Cool video. While I could be dead wrong, I have a colony that I have been concerned about all winter and they have been consistently out-foraging the other colonies in terms of incoming pollen, so you might be on to something here.
 

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I am in North Texas. Just finished my first inspection and every colony has several frames for brood. Way too early for our region. I would expect to see half as much brood at this time of the year. Nevertheless I arranged all the colonies to their pre-spring configuration (aka alternating empty brood comb and honey frame placed over the current brood box). I have few hives that have way too much excess honey and I may have to extract those frames in order to avoid swarms. It is going to be an interesting season. By the way, bees were bringing in lots of pollen. We have dandelions blooming already.

PS: It was 77 F yesterday in the middle of Jan. Crazy.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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I am resisting the urge to do any in hive manipulations. As noted, we still have "winter" to get through. Cold nights and cool days projected now for the next few weeks at least. Not sure how that is going to impact some of the nectar producing trees that are sure to be confused by the recent warm weather. The bees will manage though. Weekly hive hefting will let you know if the girls are getting light and need supplemental feed in the form of fondant, dry sugar, or sugar bricks. I still believe that most of us in the South can use heavy syrup if you have an in frame or hivetop feeder setup and adequate ventilation to get rid of the excess moisture. Our bees may not be flying during the cooler days, but they can form loose clusters and still take in syrup when it is 40° outside if the syrup is exposed to the hive's heat.
 

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I am in the Charlotte NC area and have not had a full week of bees clustering yet. Yesterday I inspected the hives and extra comb is being built, with drone eggs. I have a lot of worker brood as well. Is anyone else experiencing this and how are you changing your management hive?

I added an extra medium box with drawn comb and pulled some of the brood up and replaced with empty comb frames. I do not want a February swarm.
Comb being built in January?! Here in North Carolina? Wow. Our hives here in Wake Forest have been keeping a moderate amount of drones through this Winter, but I have not noticed any comb being drawn, albeit, I have not looked into many hives from fear of stressing them during the Winter.

We do have Red Maples start blooming in late December in towns and in roadsides, but the majority in the rural forests don't bloom till the beginning of February which is the earliest I have seen our bee hives start drawing out comb and swarming.

The Japanese cherries and other plants get confused and bloom during the winter here in our erratic Winter weather in Eastern United States, but our natives seem to know and stay dormant even through the warm spells in the depth of winter. Henbit and dandelions bloom through our winters also.

From what I have experienced the build-up of colonies in our early Spring that we have here in North Carolina depends on the kind of bee. Some colonies will not really build up until April, while others build up by February, and so swarm early. So with their early large population, they are gathering nectar and drawing comb even though it is still cold outside. Other colonies that have not started to build up stay quiet and dormant.
 

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No new comb being built here in Smithfield, VA; but I did go through all my topbar hives last week when orientation flights in one hive were off the charts for this time of year. That Buckfast Queen from New River Honeybees had at least 5 combs laid up with brood. All hives had open nectar in them from probably the maples that I have seen blooming. The other hives had patches of brood, but nothing like the one with 5 combs.

Yesterday, I discovered that the clothespin that normally holds the entrance in the Open position of my pollen trap was missing. Since I check them daily, it had been Closed for less than 24 hrs. I was amazed at the amount of pollen in it for this time of year. They are really hauling it in. At least 4 different distinct colors in it too.
pollen Jan 16.jpg
 

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Im running singles through winter. Half my hives have 4-5 frames of brood. I felt the need to give them a second deep since it looked like they were on the verge of a massive hatch out. Them new bees are gonna need something productive to do so why not clean up some frames? no natural pollen coming in that I can see yet. I think it's just been too wet for it. I think JWPalmer is right. I'm just gonna toss my calendar out this year.
 
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