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i am in chemung county in upstate ny, my bees are second year survivors, and are in the top box, numbers seem to be starting to increase, a few weeks away from dandelions coming on, so for other beeks in my area when do you start to put supers on in the spring?
 

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when the top super is 70 percent full, this is normal conditions, if you have a short intense flow you might have to stack supers 20 feet high like the Canadians, 12 deeps working from a ladder, crazy people!
 

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hmmm You're in New York state, and your bees are in the top box? Are you running two deep brood boxes? any other supers already on? I'm assuming two deep brood boxes - are there bees and brood in the bottom box as well, or is that one empty? If empty, REVERSE. What is the status of their honey stores? You may need to feed at this time of the year. I imagine your season is about 2 to three weeks behind me here in SE Missouri. Thus my suggestion:
Check the status of ALL the boxes on the hive. Put brood boxes on bottom, empty boxes on top, and seriously consider feeding, to prevent starvation. You may not need to feed if they're heavy on stores. But... not enough information yet. Then as the bees have filled up the bottom box, and are working all but a couple of frames in the top box, start adding supers.
Regards,
Steven
 

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S G's recommendation is sound. If I may expand on it some:
Your first priority is to keep them alive untill field forage is available. Worry about supering later. Check honey reserves now. Rearing brood uses honey at a brisk rate. Don't know what early sources you have that precede dandelion, but early sources are typically iffy - influenced by flying weather access and/or Vegetation slow-down. If you don't have a couple deep frames of honey in the top box, prepare to feed immediatly above the cluster. If the colony has left some honey below in the outsides of the bottom box, you can reverse now and add that lower honey over the cluster, where they can use it. Otherwise, hold off on reversal to maintain proximity between the cluster and the feed source.

Note that the colony will typically not expand brood into a raised empty (reversed) untill field nectar is collectable. They have this hang-up about wanting to consume honey/nectar from the cells for expansion of the brood nest. But they also have a hang-up about empty cells within the cluster - those are filled with nectar on a priorty basis. If the cluster enfolds the empty cells, they are filled promptly, and brood seems to jump into the raised empty. But feild nectar must be accessible, to make it happen.

Back to the original question on supering:
First, calander timing is less significant than colony status - strength. If you have sustained them to two deeps of bees, you are late. We need to branch here to what you are supering with. We'll talk about foundation, since a second year colony may not have generated any drawn comb to work with. 2nd year colonies have the capability to generate early wax making in the buildup if they perceive that establishment was not accomplished in the first year. The trick is to get their attention. Add a super of F at the time of the first reversal. The excess population spilling over into the box of foundation may do the trick. Maybe not - then they are likely to swarm. Swarm prevention, supering with F is very iffy. You can let them swarm or resort to some of the more complex brood nest disturbance procedures. Another option is periodic reversal at two week intervals until "main flow" but that has problems of its own.

If you have drawn comb to work with, its done with the same stage of colony development. At the first reversal, add a super of drawn comb above. As they build population through the raised deep, the super of comb above is automatically enfolded in the cluster. The need to fill that comb inside the cluster kicks in, and they are off and running on overhead nectar storage. Keep them in empty comb above and watch what happens. The odds are good that they forget about swarming, and store more honey than expected.

When "new wax" starts at the beginning of the "main flow" you can use F.
Walt
 

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All beekeeping is local. This morning in Chemung County NY it is 15 degrees with Thursday nights snowfall still on the hilltops. My girls remain undisturbed on my piece of hilltop except for addition of feeder and cleaned the winter killed bees from the lower super and bb.
Bee sure to record weather conditions and nectar flows on you personal calender for use next year when you're thinking of spliting and supering.

I've kept bees since 1994 but only been on this site for a few weeks. 'Kept bees' does not include having to buy fresh ones every spring. My observation is that this site seems to be both a wealth of information - as well as a wealth of mis-information from people too far away with more time on line than in the hives. I only hope that my beek decisions are not adversly affected by some of the stuff read here.
 

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>>If the colony has left some honey below in the outsides of the bottom box, you can >>reverse now

No, don't reverse now. Way too early in Elmira, NY State. I've kept bees in NY State...Clinton Co. for 30+ years. I reverse my hives every year, and believe it...it's way too early!


>>First, calander timing is less significant than colony status - strength. If you have >>sustained them to two deeps of bees, you are late.

Late?? I don't think so. We've only had a vewry few days of pollen. That's much earlier than normal by a couple weeks. Last night was 8* F. Good luck if you had already reversed.

>>The trick is to get their attention. Add a super of F at the time of the first reversal.

Reversing and adding foundation in March?? You're kidding. Good way to lose the foundation, puting it on before a good nectar flow. The bees will chew the wax right off the wires.

>>Another option is periodic reversal at two week intervals until "main flow" but that has >>problems of its own.

Reversing every two weeks from now until main flow?? Stop and think! You're in New York State in March.

>>At the first reversal, add a super of drawn comb above.

Reverse AND super in March? Why? Not a good idea in Elmira, NY.

>>The odds are good that they forget about swarming, and store more honey than expected.

Odds like what? 60/40? 80/20? And what do you do with the colonies that persist? And I thought that your CB scheme led to no swarming. You mean you still have swarming?

AJS32, try it this way...

You might be a couple weeks ahead of me in the Champlain Valley. Plan your bee work around flows not calendar. Depending on how strong the colony is, and how big your broodnest is, you'll need to do something before you see the first dandelion blossom.

Although I keep hearing horror stories about the bee losses in the Northeast this winter, the bees are actually in great shape for March. I've talked to experienced beekeepers across NY and New England. All say the same thing...large clusters, brood, and getting light on feed. So, the season might get going a bit early this year.

I usually add a super (two actually) just when I see the first dandelion blossom. Your cluster is in the top box. Adding a super of comb will be just like reversing...and same results as CBing without the added intrusion. The bees will move up having a place for overhead nectar storage. The queen will move up if she wants, giving her empty comb to lay in. This super(s) will take off the pressure of early nectar.

When the dandelion flow starts, then reverse. Add another super if they are working well in the first added. By this time westher is more settled. The colony will be stronger, and brood won't get chilled as would happen if you reverse in NYS in March or early April.

It seems to me that no matter what management you follow...supering, CBing, reversing, reversing and supering, some colonies will persist in their swarming preparations. Remember that swarming is one method of requeening that bees employ. By the management I propose, you will give added comb space above active cluster twice...once by supering and once by reversing. This will discourage many colonies in their swarming, but not all. By waiting until the early dandelion flow to do the reversing, those that desire to persist in their swarming preparations can be identified and managed accordingly.

To just reverse or CB and call the job done is ostrich beekeeping. You need to take a more active approach. Your bees in NY are going to swarm about dandelion time. Manage them for that.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
thanks for the input guys...spring mngmnt in my area was pretty much what i was looking for so this was very helpful
 

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Michael and Naturegoods, of course I defer to your wisdom re: timing in NY state... that only makes sense. The crucial fact is to pay attention to the climate, and not the calendar, as you point out.

Now, if we pay attention to climate, and his bees are in the top box, and assuming the bottom box is empty of bees and stores, are his bees in danger of starvation? If he adds an empty super as suggested, to minimize disruption of brood nest, (which makes sense) etc... should he not also add syrup or some form of feed? Syrup I've added to my hives in the last two weeks is currently being used to make bees, and is also being stored in comb above the brood nest. I fully expect the bees and queen to move up as they consume those stores and the cluster and brood nest expands as winter and cold rainy weather gives way to spring. That is what has happened in the past. As I read his post, seemed to me he's running the risk of starvation.

Please don't misunderstand, I'm not trying to be combative, just trying to help our discussion as we focus on climate and vegetation. And thus it seems like what we're discussing here is applicable to many locales. And many beeks in a situation similar to his.
Regards,
Steven
 

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As I read his post, seemed to me he's running the risk of starvation.
As I said, March is way too early to reverse or super. I agree that at this time of year, they should be watched closely and fed if necessary. Good chance there's already brood. There certainly is here. I'm feeding. Have 2 yards that were near starvation, but the rest are just light...fed out 4 bbls to 700.

I expect to super the first week of May this year unless the weather changes much colder. My dandelions are usually blooming by the 10th. When in Elmira? The 1st? So you might super the last week of April and reverse when the dandelion flow starts.
 

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:lpf: Don't you just love it! You measure syrup in bbls, I in 5-gallon totes!
Dandelions here popped open earlier this week. I returned home from Texas on Wednesday to Bradford pears blooming, forsythia blooming, and dandelions. Redbuds not yet, getting closer. Dogwoods next month. If the weather would cooperate, they'd get more forage. We still have a danger of a late freeze.
Regards,
Steven
 

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Mike:
This thread is concluded by the originator, but I think it's time to respond to your constant needling of anything I have say. As you know, I take no pleasure in disagreements in opinion and generally abstain. But you persist. I have no animosity toward you or your opinions - everyone is entitled to their own. Actually, am glad to see you back on the job as the voice of the northern perspective.

Concessions first:
Re periodic reversal:
Left out some pertinent info on the timing. That approach is normally done when the colony has two full boxes of bees, brood, and stores. That would normally occur in the swarm prep period, and would only be done 2 or 3 times. Certainly didn't mean to start now.

Re use of F wax for other purposes:
Have only seen a couple cases of that in 20 years. Very rare. You imply that it's automatic. Is it really?? Locally, our bees store a reserve of wax during the active season for use during late winter period when they don't have wax-making capability. Their wax reserve is stored as burr or bridging in the brood nest area. It's a reserve that hasn't been fully treated in my published stuff.
If your bees automatically chew up F wax in the winter/spring season, that may be a real regional difference that we need to know.

My post was oriented to first things first. Get the colony up to strength before worrying about supering. Raising honey from below to overhead was intended to be a stopgap measure to avoid starvation. That might delay or obviate the need to feed.

Rebuttal:
"Way too early for reversal" I can undestand that the consequences of separating the brood nest at this tme in the season in NY would be problematic. In the circumstances cited, that is, brood and bees in the top box, Where is the problem? " Believe me" sounds more like an unfounded opinion than a reason. Give us a reason applicable to the situation. You say that reversal of an empty and adding a super of drawn comb are similar in effect. So, while you're at it, explain why one is better than the other. Don't spare the details. We're all learning from this and I'm a dumb southerner.

Checkerboarding swarm prevention reliabity:
On another thread you said we all have swarming "no matter what they do or say." Here, you call it "ostritch beekeeping." I tire of holding back in the interest of avoiding a protracted flap where there are no winners. For the record, I have had 2 swarms in ten years. In both cases, didn't follow my own recommendations. Try to let this penetrate. CB can be 100% effective when the regimen is followed. Have several years of 100% with 20 test colonies. Granted, that is a limited sample compared to your 700, and somewhere in the 700 are likely units that will not respond like most.

If you are able to spot those that need swarm control where swarm prevention failed, you must be checking for swarm cells. I gave that up in the first year of CB. Fractured too many supersedure cells. I can tell when CB is working from the top. Increasing overhead storage of nectar is all I need to see. Would that, or could that, be used in your operation?

If I can stop swarming in this area of excellent conditions, anybody, anywhere, can.

Walt
 

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Walt,

Please, you are not a dumb southerner. You are passionate about beekeeping in a manner that invokes some thinking. Personally, I find it refreshing. You’ve helped me learn why bees do some of the things they do, and I thank you and many other “dummies” for that. Whether you’re right or wrong in your opinions and recommendations, I don’t feel you deserve the hostile persecution I’ve seen posted, especially when many seem to be the result of sentences taken out of context. You handle the rebuttals like a true gentleman, something more of us could learn to be better at. Please keep teaching us.

A dumber northerner,
Steve
 

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As a new beek I enjoy the give and take. I've heard debates at every beekeeper meeting, web site and convention. Everyone has the "best" or "right" way to do this and none of them are the same. I think it's great to see various opinions of why and why not to do anything.
I got a great kick out of hearing one trainer say "Never add anything to your hive, if you need to aid your hive to survive you're just nurturing a weak hive". I walked from that class to the next where that trainer espoused treating for everything before it happened as a safety precaution.
I don't look at these various opinions as derogatory just different views that work for those beeks. My last local meeting one woman was telling a new class to check the hives and reverse if the bottom was completely empty to get ready for the pollen and nectar coming in from the trees. I reversed, my bottom deeps were dry. I started feeding. This past week a gentleman spoke and said a second year hive (mine) shouldn't need any syrup, don't feed. Oh and wait to reverse. Same group, same weather, I bet I could ask more people in the club and have even more opinions. Some times I pick the right stuff, sometimes....did I reverse too soon? I pick the wrong. So far the bees are surviving all my mess ups.
Don't stop arguing gents I love the information and it gives me ideas for next time! :applause:
 

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I have always felt that 10 beekeepers will give you 11 answers to the same question. What is right?? you just try what seems best for the situation you are in, I don't want to argue with anyone, but I think that everyone is right and everyone is wrong all the time. just gotta try something that seems reasonable to me.
 

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>>

Although I keep hearing horror stories about the bee losses in the Northeast this winter, the bees are actually in great shape for March. I've talked to experienced beekeepers across NY and New England. All say the same thing...large clusters, brood, and getting light on feed. So, the season might get going a bit early this year.
i think we are seeing that down here- started about 3 weeks ago or so. it sure seems like the ones that survived are huge and building up super fast.
Any theories why the season is starting early?
we had more moisture and more cold than normal down this way.
 

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Any theories why the season is starting early?
I think it started last Fall. The bees raised a late round of brood, and the colonies went into winter with large populations. Our winter was mild. So, the clusters wintered intact. I would say that due to large clusters and mild temperatures, the bees began raising brood early here...all thi contributes to large hungry clusters.
 

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>>Mike:
This thread is concluded by the originator, but I think it's time to respond to your constant needling of anything I have say. As you know, I take no pleasure in disagreements in opinion and generally abstain. But you persist. I have no animosity toward you or your opinions - everyone is entitled to their own. Actually, am glad to see you back on the job as the voice of the northern perspective.


I'm not needling you Walt. I'm disagreeing with you. I'll not say anything about your methods when it comes to keeping bees in Tennessee or that kind of climate. When it comes to beekeeping in a northerly location like Vermont, or Elmira NY, I will. From your posts., what you know about northern beekeeping is hearsay, ie. needing to know if foundation chewing is a regional difference. OK fine. I don't know about the timing in Tenn. But I do in NY and VT.



>Concessions first:
Re periodic reversal:
Left out some pertinent info on the timing. That approach is normally done when the colony has two full boxes of bees, brood, and stores. That would normally occur in the swarm prep period, and would only be done 2 or 3 times. Certainly didn't mean to start now.


Unfortunately, from your post, it seemed to me as if you were advising to reverse now if the colony had expanded into 2 boxes or had some honey down below. Walt, our bees are just coming out of winter here. The temps are still in the teens and single digits at night. I have bees that are in 3 boxes...many of them are this year. I would never reverse them this early. That's my main objection. And second objection is the 2-3 times reversing. You don't know northern flows.

Swarm prevention is accomplished by adquate overhead nectar storage. We both agree. Where we differ is I don't think there is a need for overhead nectar storage space until there is adequate nectar available. Our bees are now in the top box. Strong colonies have 1.5-3 boxes of bees. Even the strongest won't start cells on the tree blooms. A very few will start just before Dandelion, but most need a nectar flow that is much greater than colony needs. Here that most often comes from Dandelion, but rarely a bit sooner. So, keeping that timing in mind, I super just before that nectar. Gives the bees a place for overhead storage. Walt, our bees are in the top box. No overhead honey dome. Just what should I CB? The top of the broodnest. CB brood?

Early supering relieves the pressure for needed nectar storage overhead. As you said in December, it isn't permanent. That super (2 mediums actually in my case) will become filled with nectar, and create that dome you speak of, or cavity limit that I mention. That's when I reverse. By reversal ON the Dandelion bloom, you are again creating space overhead. More supers are added at this time. So, lots of empty comb space above the active cluster by reversian and nectar storage by managing supers correctly.

Now, why not just reverse early. Because the cluster moves up into empty combs, queen establishes broodnest there. When nectar comes in they are right back to the same place...cluster in top, incoming nectar, reach cavity limit...start swarm preps. Early reversal proponents advise multiple reversals about 10 days apart. I'm sure. The first was performed too early in the season and they don't understand the reason for reversing and it's relation to nectar flows.

>>Re use of F wax for other purposes:
Have only seen a couple cases of that in 20 years. Very rare. You imply that it's automatic. Is it really?? Locally, our bees store a reserve of wax during the active season for use during late winter period when they don't have wax-making capability. Their wax reserve is stored as burr or bridging in the brood nest area. It's a reserve that hasn't been fully treated in my published stuff.
If your bees automatically chew up F wax in the winter/spring season, that may be a real regional difference that we need to know.

It is here. If you add foundation before there's a good flow, the bees will chew the wax off the wires. We just don't have a strong flow until mid-Dandelion bloom. Then it's safe to add foundation.

>>My post was oriented to first things first. Get the colony up to strength before worrying about supering. Raising honey from below to overhead was intended to be a stopgap measure to avoid starvation. That might delay or obviate the need to feed.

Yes, that is the main goal. Reversing up that honey isn't the correct thing to do in the middle of March. Leave the bees alone at that time of the year in the North. If they need feeding, then feed. Many days now they are still in a winter cluster. Reversing the cluster to the bottom of the hive in those conditions is working against the bees wishes and nature to be in the top box at this time of year. See Walt, I don't believe in the swarm prep theory that says bees start swarm preps on the tree bloom. At least not here. Bees react to stimulae. We don't have a honey dome here, as you call it. So, I'll call it cavity limit. That cavity limit can be reached in any size hive at any time of the year that there is a flow on. If the broodnest is too small, or there aren't enough supers on that limit is reached. Yes, when there is nowhere else to put nectar, it goes in the broodnest. That's the trigger for swarming. Have space above for nectar storage...supering, CBing, reversing...and swarming is greatly reduced or delayed. Reversing here before that nectar flow is a waste of time and too invasive to the bees.

>>Rebuttal:
"Way too early for reversal" I can undestand that the consequences of separating the brood nest at this tme in the season in NY would be problematic. In the circumstances cited, that is, brood and bees in the top box, Where is the problem? " Believe me" sounds more like an unfounded opinion than a reason. Give us a reason applicable to the situation. You say that reversal of an empty and adding a super of drawn comb are similar in effect. So, while you're at it, explain why one is better than the other. Don't spare the details. We're all learning from this and I'm a dumb southerner.

" Believe me" sounds more like an unfounded opinion than a reason." Walt, your pov is totally full of unfounded opinion. You even say that all this new knowledge you have is unsupported by science. Is that not unfounded opinion? I'm trying my best to explain my methods. You want me to explain everything and "spare no details," yet most of your explanations are opinions.

I've been asked to add to BS, POV. My POV is contained in my posts in these pages. I don't mind questions and I don't mind challenges. Go ahead and question my methods. We all learn that way. I promise I won't answer your questions with more questions.


>>Checkerboarding swarm prevention reliabity:
On another thread you said we all have swarming "no matter what they do or say." Here, you call it "ostritch beekeeping." I tire of holding back in the interest of avoiding a protracted flap where there are no winners. For the record, I have had 2 swarms in ten years. In both cases, didn't follow my own recommendations. Try to let this penetrate. CB can be 100% effective when the regimen is followed. Have several years of 100% with 20 test colonies. Granted, that is a limited sample compared to your 700, and somewhere in the 700 are likely units that will not respond like most.


Yes, and if some in 700 then some in 20. All colonies act and react differently. None are the same. So, performing one manipulation on many colonies and walking away is what I call ostrich. Even after colony swarm prevention measures are taken, the colonies have to be checked periodically.

>>If you are able to spot those that need swarm control where swarm prevention failed, you must be checking for swarm cells. I gave that up in the first year of CB. Fractured too many supersedure cells. I can tell when CB is working from the top. Increasing overhead storage of nectar is all I need to see. Would that, or could that, be used in your operation?

I don't care if I fracture supercedure cells. There are always some more up inside the broodnest. I see colonies swarm that are filling supers well. Couldn't tell that from the top. I've seen colonies swarm when their supers are empty. Can't tell that from the top. I'm a more pro-active beekeeper. I like to look at my bees from the bottom up, not the top down.

>>If I can stop swarming in this area of excellent conditions, anybody, anywhere, can.

Truly, but maybe not by your methods everywhere. One size does not fit all.
 
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