Ready or Not, It is Supering Time
I said SUPERING, not Swarming. That is, if you have a young queen, reversed brood chambers
to reduce brood chamber congestion, and follow the rules that will be given
in today's PINK PAGES, your chances of a swarm in our April
swarm SEASON will be minimized.
our warm weather in early March, maples, alders, and willow trees have provided
much pollen needed for brood rearing. My colonies have 9-12 Illinois frames
Filled with brood,
so the brood area
is about to get heavily congested which is the Number
ONE cause of swarming.
This congestion needs relief, and I will explain HOW.
can reverse your brood chambers right now
without splitting the brood, reverse so the queen's laying space is in
the bottom brood chamber and capped brood is
in the top brood chamber, add ONE super of preferably drawn comb (or foundation
if here is no drawn comb available)
and NO queen excluder, and wait one week. At the end
one week, something
should have happened in that new super: If it was drawn comb, some
nectar and maybe some OPEN BROOD can be found on the center frames of that
find 3-4 frames will nectar or brood in them, MAKE SURE THE QUEEN IS NOT IN
THAT SUPER, and place a queen excluder under that super.
super is " baited"
and the bees will continue to take care of it going back and forth through the
excluder. If you have to use foundation, it will take longer and you should
be feeding 1:1 sugar syrup through the inner cover hole to aid in drawing the
foundation into comb.
When 6-7 of the center frames are drawn and filled with something, nectar or
OPEN BROOD, move the untouched frames to the center and the drawn frames towards
the outside, make sure the queen is below, and put a queen excluder under this
The addition of one super
about April 1st relieves congestion by providing space f or
the worker bees to MOVE nectar out of the brood frames, deposit it "upstairs"
in this super, and open up cells in the brood area frames for the queen to lay
fresh eggs. Bees WILL MOVE NECTAR OR HONEY to new-locations in a bee colony
in order to give the queen additional laying space in the
brood chamber area!
this SWARM SEASON period, the queen is laying eggs at her peak and can fill
10 deep frames or 15 Illinois frames with brood in a 21 day worker bee gestation
period .The other
brood area frames are filled with pollen, and nectar surrounding the brood making
larvae feeding easier for the workaholic nurse bees.
However, a major nectar
flow can start as early as April 15th here near the ration's capitol of Washington
DC, and surely by May 1
st Supers of drawn
comb have little or no value sitting in your garage or basement, so add 4 supers
of drawn comb to
that one super on the bees on INCOME TAX DAY, April 15th; and don't forget some
entrances in the super area, either Imirie shims or holes in the supers, and
an upper entrance. This will keep the forager bees from "drudging back and "forth"
through the brood chamber and creating MORE congestion than already exists there.
I have been asked "where"
I put Imirie Shims: On top of the queen excluder are two supers, then a shim,
another 2 supers and then a second shim, then the 5th super topped with an upper
entrance cut in the inner cover.
Lastly, for those that
still don't understand "WHY 5 SUPERS?" Nectar is thin
and about 80% water, but there has to be a lot of storage space to hold all
this nectar until
the bees can ripen it into thick honey that is only about 16-18% water. If there
is not enough super space to store all this thin watery nectar, the bees will
stop gathering nectar
and prepare to
swarm. If your
colony swarms during a major nectar
flow, it was not a bad queen or crazy bees, it was 100% YOUR FAULT; because
you did not provide
enough super space AHEAD OF TIME.
GET YOUR SUPERS ON!
Disturbing Your Bees
Almost 70, years ago, I
have never forgotten some wisdom Dr. James L Hambleton gave me: He said, "Get
all your hive work done by the time the nectar flow starts, then
leave the bees alone, let them work, and don't disturb them with inspections."
When you light your smoker, gently smoke the bees, remove and inspect some
frames, you have totally disrupted that colony for the rest of the day and they
cease foraging for nectar while they try and clear the hive of smoke, empty
their stomachs of honey that they have sucked up in preparation of flying to
a new home ,
repairing the broken
comb that you caused by moving frames, and resealing things with propolis to
keep the weather outside where it belongs.
you inspect your colony one day each during a
nectar flow, you
1/7th of your honey yield because you stopped their normal work schedule for
a whole day out of seven.
Is the queen that you
see on July 4th
the SAME QUEEN that you saw on April 1 st?
MARK YOUR QUEENS
So often I hear of beekeepers
who won't requeen because they have suffered the loss
brand new $10 queen before, and,
course, blamed the loss on the queen breeder, the weather, poor post office
handling, and Mrs. Smith's Red Underwear. Rarely does a person who lacks knowledge
think that their lack
of know-how night
be the problem.
At the risk of being anthropomorphic,
allow me to use an example. The mother of
a large family of children is killed in an auto accident. A year
or so later, the
father remarries to a fine Christian woman with high ideals, lovely personality,
and s very fond of children. The elementary school children think this new mother
is wonderful, the
teen age children tolerate her, but the young adult
resent this new mother and strongly feel that their father should not have remarried.
Many of us have witnessed
this very circumstance in our lives. Young nurse bees who are genetically programmed
to take care of every necessity of the hive queen readily accept a new
queen in the colony; whereas the older forager bees, having been relieved of
all hive duties and destined to only forage until their death, are reluctant
to accept a
new queen PARTICULARLY
IN THE ABSENCE OF A NECTAR FLOW.
What about the "absence
of a nectar flow"? You are not real happy when there is nothing to do and you
have to eat "leftovers". After all, nectar is the food of choice for a bee,
while honey is a "winter survival" feed a "leftover"!
Lastly, the queen's job
in a colony is LAYING EGGS, and the bees are not happy about a queen who can't
lay eggs or doesn't lay enough eggs to keep the colony well populated, and ultimately,
the poor queen will be superseded in the hope that the daughter queen can do
a better job for the colony.
Hence, a queen ready to
lay an abundant number of eggs shortly after being released in a colony is far
better accepted than a virgin queen or a laying queen that has been in shipment
or banked too long.
The success in
requeening is the responsibility of the beekeeper, and it is this beekeeper
that is going to try and release a laying queen as quick as he can after acquiring
her from the post OFFICE (not his mail box) release her to a group of young
nurse bees only with few forgers, and make sure of a steady supply of "nectar"
by feeding 1:1 sugar syrup. He is going to let this group of young bees get
the queen "settled" and make her feel "at home" and wanted for about three weeks
when the first eggs hatch. Then, he goes to the colony he wants to requeen,
kills the old queen, waits 24 hours until all the bees in that colony know the
queen is dead, puts a single sheet of newspaper on top of the colony, and then
adds the new young colony with the new queen and 1:1 syrup on top of all that.
You have introduced a laying
queen quickly to a colony of young nurse bees with few forager age bees, provided
an artificial nectar flow, given them time to "settle in" together, and then
merged this happy group with a colony of older bees who have no queen. By doing
this, you will get about 99% queen acceptance and rarely any supersedure.
One might say, "George,
this takes too much time and too much work." I did not
know that time and too much work was important for hobbyist beekeepers! I
thought time and work was important ONLY to commercial beekeepers who have
to not only PAY employees, but pay by the HOURS WORKED. You have to decide
if always having a new young queen who can lay more eggs to build a larger
nectar gathering population and young enough to produce enough queen pheromone
to prevent colony loss by swarming is worth the $10 cost of a new queen and
your time in successful
requeening so that your colony can always produce large yields of
honey is worth it or not. I don't sell a drop of my honey for less than $3.50
per pound. and I
always get over 100 pounds per hive. Do
gross $350-$450 per colony?
you ever thought about finding out about different bee races or bee stocks by
YOURSELF rather than listening to my thoughts or Tom, Dick, and Harry's ideas.?
Why not requeen one of your colonies with a Buckfast, Midnite, or Minnesota
Hygienic queen each year and see what you like about a different race or what
you don't like about a different stock.
You remember the tales
that "some people, like redheads, while others like blondes" I love Carniolans,
Bill loves Italians, and maybe your pick will be Buckfast; or many people swear
by Wilbanks Italians, while others have had super good luck with Shuman's Italian
stock, but some always buy York Italian stock. Why don't you find out for yourself?
Put a little scientific thinking in your life, have some fun, but most important,
LEARN, LEARN, LEARN!