May - June 2007
1. At this time, swarming is about over and the bees should have settled down and working hard. You should see lots of “going and coming” activity at the entrance and lots of bees in the hive. They should be hauling pollen. If you do not see this, check to make sure you have a queen.
Particularly keep your eye on any colonies that swarmed since they were queenless just after the swarm and sometimes the young queen does not make it back from her mating flight.
Every year is different and 2007 is certainly no exception as we had no winter until well into the early spring bloom and we had 2 weeks of winter. I do not know at this point how this will affect the honey crop but it (or something) appears to have reduced swarming.
If you have a queenless colony, you have several options for corrective action:
· Order and install a new queen right away.
· Mix a small swarm using newspaper with the queenless colony.
· Mix the queenless colony with a queenright colony.
When mixing colonies, leave each group as intact as possible and let them mix on their own. For example, should you decide to move frames from one colony to the other, move them as a group. Don’t mix frames. If left alone, a colony will protect its own queen. If you expose one queen directly to the other colony, they will often times kill her. If the two groups are allowed to mix “on their own”, this is much less likely to happen.
2. Put on supers and keep an eye on them and add supers as needed. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ADEQUATE SUPERS ON YOUR HIVES. As of May 1, the bees are really packing in honey. Empty supers in the honey house will make you no honey!
3. Get your labels on order.
2. Get your jars on order.
3. If a small operator, develop a method of extracting your honey. (If you are an MCBA member, schedule the Association owned loaner extractor as soon as possible)
4. Keep weeds cut in front to hives. (This reduces the possibility of snake bite as well as provide the ventilation needed to cure honey)
5. Put comb honey supers on your strongest colonies.
· Use 10 frames for comb honey (cut comb foundation is recommended).
· (A note for harvest time) Remember that comb honey should be left in a deep freeze for 48 hours before it is sold or consumed to kill the lesser wax moth eggs.
6. Number of frames recommended:
Brood Chamber - use 10 frames (9 is acceptable)
Comb Honey 10 frames (as above)
Extracted honey use 9 frames if foundation.
o If drawn comb is available put a drawn frame in positions 1 and 9 with foundation between. This seems to draw the bees up into the foundation supers quicker.
Extracted honey use 8 frames if drawn comb.
(Note: fewer frames yield thicker combs. Thick combs are easier to “un-cap” for extraction however too few combs usually result in bridge or other undesirable erratic comb structure.)
7. If you have unused dark comb, store it with PDB.
· CAUTION - Must be aired out well before putting on live beehive.
· Frequent orientation flights. These are young bees graduating from house bees to field bees.
· Lots of activity at the entrance
· Hauling pollen
· The bees should be very gentle
· Caution – this will change come fall.
· If too many drones later in the season check for a bad queen or laying workers.
2007 has been a low swarm year in north Alabama. To date the honey crop looks as though it will be good in spite of the late freeze. In my areas, the freeze eliminated half of the Locus bloom and all of the Poplar bloom but I am seeing bees returning to the hives with "white backs" which is pollen and is normally from Poplar blooms and I am seeing Poplar blooms in other parts of the Huntsville area so the Poplar honey crop may not be all lost.
Queen problems seem to be wide spread this year. No particular supplier is good or bad, queens are just not as dependable as they have been in previous years.
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