The split starts tomorrow, with a scheduled 350 hives planned to be divided over the next couple of weeks. I am starting to see some real growth in my hives as the queen has been allowed to stretch her nest down and across the frames. Pollen and nectar is flowing in from both trees and flowers. These are ideal conditions to make splits. Over the last two weeks we have combed through the “queen working” yards equalizing and requeening the poor performing hives. I have done everything I can now to promote growth, now its time to enjoy watching these hives grow!
There is an old saying, “seed into dust, your bins will bust”. It’s hard to be patient especially when there is so much on the line. Springs like these are extremely hard on our nerves so when conditions turn “perfect” we tend to work non stop til getting stopped again by rain. It’s funny how anxious we are to get started especially this late into spring and after five days we’re looking for that rain to provide a bit of relief from the work!! Its good to see the rain as it feels as if it has finally brought spring. Today I noticed the wheat is already up, only a few days in the ground!
Its amazing how one week of pollen seems to make a beehive colony look more robust. The smell of Royal Jelly is evident while opening the hives and fresh wax is again being built within the nest. The brood laying pattern has started to improve dramatically. As I work through the hives marked for splitting I am encouraged on one hand as I open up nice looking expanding hives but also disappointed on the other hand as I realize the toll chalk brood had taken.
Chalk brood is a stress disease and expresses itself during worst during cool wet slow springs. The only hives I am seeing the chalk brood express itself is in a small percentage (5%) of the hives I doubled up anticipating colony growth. No chalk brood in my small hives, no chalk brood in my larger hives, but chalk brood in found in mid sized hives which I marked as strong that got doubled up. That extra space I added on top seemed to cold shocked the hives as the following weather turned cool and wet… The better thing to do would of been to add the space under the hives but at the time I gambled on the forecast which predicted warm weather… It re enforces the FACT that adding cluster space in the spring should happen under the nest until the nectar starts flowing in which case space is added over the nest.
My mid sized hives have not advanced since I put them out but they have maintained themselves very well. My larger split hives look promising and are holding three to four frames of capped brood in each box.
The queens have started to arrive and this first round will be directed towards requeening to bring youth into my queen stock. The next round of queens will be directed into the split which is scheduled to take place late May. Any queens left over from the split will be directed towards nucs, scheduled to take place second week of June. Of course all my plans are in constant flux but my game plan is set up to help manage all types of conditions. This spring has been one of those more challenging springs I have managed.
My packages came in this morning and I called in the staff to hive them this afternoon. It took three of us two hours to hive 100 packages, quick work! The silver lining to this weather is that the 5 degree C, cool, damp, drizzle of a day made for perfect hiving conditions. The bees were slow enough not to fly off during hiving but active enough to climb the frames within minutes to meet the queen up at the top of the frames. I took a BIT of heat working the hives during mothers day…it apparently was quite obvious the bees had taken priority of the day… it takes a special gal to be a beekeepers wife!! lol
Chalk brood…a symptom of a cool wet slow year. This symptom is slightly scattered throughout my apiary. As you can see, the hive beside has no symptoms. Now that pollen is coming in, if this hive does not improve I will requeen it. Chalkbrood is frustrating because it will take all the growth from a large colony to the point where they will have trouble maintaining their population. Takes the edge off the spring growth.
Soon as the sun makes its reappearance we are starting another round with patties, feed and oxytet. The cool wet conditions we have been having so far this spring promote EFB in which case is easily cleared up with oxytet. I am seeing chalkbrood at the front of some of my hives entrances which is typical in cool wet conditions. Hot dry weather is the only thing that can be done to relieve chalkbrood. With this weather I am also somewhat concerned about nosema levels. I will be taking random bee samples from the outer edges of the bee nest and sending them away for analysis to confirm levels before I act with any nosema treatments.