Back into the hives this afternoon! The day time high finally go up to 8 degreesC and the bees were flying like it was 20. We are 3/4 the way through the second round medicating and feeding patties. Not a trace of the patties are left from 7 days ago so we are giving each hive a slab this time around. I have started making my hive tops with a 7/16 feeding rim which makes feeding patties much easier as the lids fit on better and the bees have better access to the patties. We are starting to add seconds to our split hives. We are giving these big hives space to promote a brood nest between the two boxes to which we will split later in May. The remainder of the hives will stay in singles to which we will equalize strength and requeen if necessary.
Pounding the protein to the hives
Still waiting for the trees to come out, as you can see the attention of the bees are still on the open feeders
Again we manage our hives through a cool wet slow spring…the kind of weather that tends to easily send my thoughts into a pessimistic state. Yet every time I get a chance to get out to the bee yards I get that optimistic feeling back again of striking it rich!! LOL The guys are chomping at the bit to get seeding underway and tell me they are at least a week away at turning any wheels on the land. This creates a challenge as late seeding decreases our potential crop yield, but the silver lining to that cloud is the increase to my potential honey crop!
the bees are draining the feed tubs, when the weather allows it…
My hives have currently consumed 20 bags of soyflour / BeePro / or Ultrabee either from the open feeders or in patty form. My open feeders are just about done, which I will make them clean up as the trees are ready to burst into bloom. As for my patties… my first round patties have been gobbled up and the hives are waiting for more! This weather is proving to be a challenge to work around. My open syrup feeders are working exactly as planned but they only work during foraging weather. The bees have been able to access the syrup feeders frequently enough to be able to store surplus within the nest. A huge problem is possibly going to arise this week as it looks like the bees are going to be confined to the boxes to rainy weather. A syrup run is being made into Winnipeg today and feed is being sent out asap!
heavy wet frame of bee larvae
One comment made within a two day convention this past winter, changed my entire outlook on managing my honeybee hive brood nests. It’s everything I already knew, but the way Randy Oliver framed his comment made so much sense it was like I had an “Oprah moment” lol and has brought all those loose ends together into one solid working strategy.
As he was making his presentation he spoke about the bee larvae and how a properly nourished frame of bee larvae should look. As he put it, pretending to stand in the bee yard with his crew while one guy inspected a hive’s brood nest, “well Jimmy, are the babies wet or are they dry?”
My bees are bringing in loads of dry protein, sucking down my open syrup feeders and consuming the protein patties very well and its showing in the hive’s brood cells. I’m seeing sheets of freshly hatched larvae swimming in Royal Jelly. The impressive thing is that we have had terrible spring weather conditions to date and the trees have yet to yield any pollen or nectar. I have also shaved my operating budget to a fraction to what I was doing other years. Putting the money where it needs to be is key. The difference is my approach.
The bees came to life today during this beautiful Easter Sunday. I had my nose in the hives first thing this morning (after the Easter treat hunt!) and called my help in this afternoon to catch up with some desperately needed bee work. We worked through 240 hives today finally completing our first round. Our focus during this round has been cluster centering, adding feed frames or removing surplus feed adding space and feeding patties. Ten days separate the beginning and end of this round which puts us behind in medicating, first up this week!
Not seen in the picture are the eggs and fresh larvae surrounding the sealed brood. The smell of open brood is terrific!
The hives have preformed extremely well these last ten days with my hives sitting with three or four frames of brood. The queen has started spring time laying and she must be going for broke because I’m seeing sheets of eggs already!! Before the cold weather break the bees had foraged on 4-5 bags of dry supplement and now are aggressively working on the 8-10th bag. The bees are bringing it in so fast that a ring of soyflour/BeePro/UltraBee dry feed supplement surround the brood. The bees are so aggressive foraging for protein that they are grooming it off each other before the bee actually enters the hive! Spectacular sights at the open feeders! My open syrup feeder is almost getting the same attention and today it had been drained to the bottom… going to need to do a syrup run asap!
Out flying a kite with the kids after work
We will need more than just a tease of nice weather for this farming thing to work… the cold is starting to wear on my nerves and my patience is starting to frazzle. Needless to say all beehive beekeeping work has been put on hold. I wandered out to the yards yesterday to take a peak to see how the hives were handling this spring time February weather. The hives have eaten 1/3-2/3 of the patties given a week ago which is very encouraging because that means brood is being reared. 250 hives sit without any patties yet… back to work on the next sunny day!!!
Dead out equipment scraped up and ready to go back out.
I continue to pull out all the old wired frames. Its hard to cull out straight workable comb but this equipment is 20 to 30 years old and I was told some of these frames were built in 1950! Not much of this old stuff left in my hives now.
Both these hives received two nice frames of honey each ,
I’m doing all I can to settle my hives. Last night the country side was layered in a thick blanket of snow. Its not the snow that has gotten me worried, its the forecast of four nights of double digit night time lows that has gotten me concerned. My bees are tougher that I give them credit for, but I worry because many of the large hives sit on a frame or two of honey. The temperature got up to a balmy 4 degrees C this afternoon. I was able to slip out and work through another bee yard and dropped in two boxes of honey frames. Not ideal conditions but workable.
No protection from the cold, other than a bubble wrap inner cover and a layer of freshly fallen snow…
We worked through 240 hives today feeding patties and shifting honey feed frames. It felt good to get some good old fashion beekeeping work done today! I’m not pail feeding yet because I hate the leaking mess the pails leave this time of year but I have syrup available in open feeders. The bees have had access to the open feed for two or three short days now and they already have half a frame of syrup stored away. Once this forecasted cold weather kicks off I will have to fill the feed tubs again. With this next round I have pulled and shaken out another 4% of dink hives through todays work. This puts my projected losses right on my initial estimate of around 15%.