By Stacey Adair
Ok, ready, set, GO!!!
Time to get geared up for the new season! March and April are our busiest times in the bee yard, and it is certainly upon us. Thought we could go through a quick check list to make sure we haven’t forgotten anything.
1. If you are planning to sell nucs and have not arranged an inspection with Mike Studer, please call him ASAP at 615-837-5342.
2. If you haven’t enlisted yet, volunteer to be a bee buddy to one of our new members!
3. In your over-wintered colonies, remove entrance reducers, check for food stores, a laying queen, and no evidence of mites or disease. If you need help with disease de- tection, your inspectors can assist you.
4. If medications have been applied, make sure they are removed in a timely manner. Do not put honey supers above a colony with medication on it! If you find evidence of parasites when inspecting your colony, it is not too late to apply treatments. Please ask a member for guidance on types of medications available for spring treatment, and see John Gee to get your medications. One reminder about feeding fumagillin. DO NOT mix the medication in hot water or syrup. It will inactivate the fumagillin.
5. If your bees are building up nicely, continue to check on food stores and do some swarm prevention. Give the bees room to build up. Congestion stimulates the desire to swarm. I’ll have more on congestion prevention later.
6. Have extra brood boxes ready to make splits if your colonies build up and get the swarm desire. Charlie Parton will be talking about making splits at this meeting, and the following weekend, we will have our woodenware workshop to show you how to put all your equipment together correctly so that it will last.
7. Check your stored drawn comb honey supers for any mouse or wax moth damage. Make repairs and give them time to air out before placing on the hive.
8. Any honey super frames which might have been culled because of brood staining can be saved to put in a swarm super for that inevitable spring swarm. Some of our members go ahead and strap together a bottom board, super or hive body with frames, and a top cover, then leave in a convenient place for quick retrieval when the swarm call comes. You can place the entire bundle in a heavy duty trash bag to keep wax moths out while being stored short term.
During spring build up, congestion can occur within the brood nest. Swarming occurs most times because of over- crowding. Reversing brood chambers is an effective way to create space for the laying queen, as well as adding space within each hive body by dropping drawn comb down near her laying pattern. The queen’s tendency is to move up to lay, so reversing brood chambers a couple of times during spring build up can be effective. Another excellent way to manage crowding is to put supers above the hive bodies. This gives the bees more overhead space, thus usually re- lieving some of the congestion in the hive bodies.( One word of caution– don’t put so many on them the bees can’t control the wax moths, and two, if a queen excluder is used, the bees may be a little hesitant to explore the overhead space.) And if you have a really strong colony which acts like it may swarm in spite of your efforts, artificial swarming can be done to split the colony. The presence of queen cells in the colony should tell you that your efforts to prevent overcrowding have not worked, and splitting the hive will help insure you don’t lose the impending swarm.
A 3-5 frame split can be made, taking the old queen with brood and nurse bees into a nucleus colony. Leave 3-4 undisturbed queen cells in the original hive, and let that colony produce their own queen if you do not have queens to add to any nucs you split out. Leaving too many queen cells in the original colony can lead to multiple swarms, so it is best to re- move excess cells. Again, Charlie Parton will be speaking about some of these techniques, and feel free to ask any of the members for advice.
In closing, the officers and directors have made a request that any member who has a question they would like discussed to write the question on a piece of paper, and we will make every effort to make time to get to questions at each meeting. Remember, there are no dumb questions, and someone may have had the same question as you, so PLEASE ask!! You may turn in your questions to Charlie or Stacey before the meeting, or at the break. We look for- ward to being able to help everyone with concerns in their bee yards. See everyone soon