Contributed by J. Morgan
Since early March, everyone who knows me has heard me lament over the fact that the winter didn't have anough "chilling hours," and that everything is early... and that I'm worried about my grapevines getting frost-bit, and that the bugs are going to be heavy this year. I go on and on. I've also spoke in detail with Garry Reeves on what his plans are for the spring splits. Those of you following Mel Disselkoen's method of beekeeping, like Garry, myself and others, have really had a lot to watch for, and a lot to do.
Well, other than all the things I have been sweating over, the spring has been kind to us, but we need to recognize that we are way ahead of schedule! Put out your annuals and tenders at your own risk. While we've been given no indication of cold weather to come, remember mother nature is as unpredictable as the bees.
The Morels are out! We typically look for these after the second week of April, but we've been finding them around the Ohio River valley since the lasst week of March.
When days get to the 70's and the nights get to the 40/50's, then buds start to break, the sounds of frogs fill the evenings and and there's no stopping Spring. It's here. I myself have been in to my hives 3 times doing manipulations, adding deeps and supers, pulling bad or usless comb making room (btw, I'll be bringing in a selection of 10 frames to the next meeting for us to evaluate why I removed them from the hives) and watching for swarm cells. We have already seen a pretty constant honey-flow. I took my candy boards off, and I've not added any feeders yet. But I see all kinds of white comb, nectar deposits, and drones walking the hives. I've marked any queens (laying of course) with last years white dot.
I've heard a few swarm stories too! So, if you haven't been in your hives, you're very late. If you have, you will have covered the basics:
- consolidating brood near the bottom of the hive
- checking the queens laying pattern
- inspect the capped brood... are they slightly buldging, or sunken and perforated? If the latter, you want to pop one of those and use a toothpick to rule out AFB.
- how are the honey stores, and is there plenty of room for the queen to lay, and for the bees to put honey in? We want them to feel there is plenty of room to help prevent that swarming urge
- white, mummified bee carcasses can be chalkbrood, something easier to deal with
- scraping burr comb and cleaning up
- checking for the obvious mites, SHB and wax moth
- remove you sticky boards and clean them off to notice recent mite drop.
I've seen mites on my bees already, but nothing that indicates an infestation. Many beeks have been working on hive beetle traps expecting this year to be bad... and with the unseasonably warm winter, I buy that entirely.
I have linked to the latest Kelley newsletter that goes in to great details of the basics we want to be doing.
That's all for now folks, Garry Reeves will be performing an OTS demonstration at the next bee meeting. It will be extremely informative, and fun! He has been building up a hive and notching the cell walls to have the bees build cells, then, he'll break the hives in to multiple nucs and drop the newly formed cells in to each nuc. BRING YOUR VEILS, and let the spring games begin!
Here's hoping for the best spring harvests ever!