We stripped nucs today. Besides the tractor only access, pea soup thick fog and the misty drizzle rain, it was a perfect day to move hives around. We almost stayed dry today wearing rain coats all morning but those afternoon tornado laced thundershowers drenched us as we set the nucs throughout a pasture for mating. Working through all types of conditions leads to GONG SHOW productivity, but as long as the bees are fine, we get the job done one way or the other.
Well good by perfect timing, hello gobs of bees. Each split hive has four foundation frames uptop, which is now drawn out, packed full of honey and hanging with bees. We made up nearly 100 two brood frame nucs today, a few more days like today would finish it. We are getting late according to the calendar but the hives are not preparing for swarming yet. Because we have been majorly delayed with weather I’ve had to pinch off queen cells. Yesterday I decided to leave a batch til today hoping to collect and transfer them before any hatched..wrong…five hatched out and started destroying everything!! We double celled everything today to get us back on schedule, until the next rain delay…
Setting up cell builders. It’s no wonder my queen rearing yard gets so cranky…intensive reorganization work regardless the conditions. We have been grafting for nearly two weeks straight, two more days just incase the weather delays our work further than expected. After this we will graft once a week to keep my mini mating nucs going. Carrie has gotten good at grafting finding acceptance of over 95% everytime, finding 100% acceptance as the normal. Long range looks promising for good mating weather. Fingers crossed!
I’m counting the days of sun this week, we should be able to get through the split by Saturday. Then it’s back through quickly sifting the big ones down further. The pails go back out by the end of this week. We will treat the hives with half a gallon of syrup along with another pound of protein supplement. A little bit of work which will stimulate the hives nicely as the spring pollen and nectar flows start to dry up.
The guys are full out moving cattle out to pasture. After delaying the move due to dryness, we received a few inches of rain, which has gotten the pastures leaping with growth but plagued the cattle yard with slop. We can’t use the semi to haul so they have been running with both trailers. A few more days and they will all be out.
The crop is coming through beautifully, these seedlings might as well been growing in a green house these last few days. floatation tires have been installed on the sprayer and we are going to start herbicide soon as we can travel. Bugs bugs bugs. Our seed treatments have been keeping the bug populations under control but we are watching very closely. >>>Cutworms<<< We are scouting our fields daily…we may have to intervene further. The farm has invested in top quality low drift nozzles to help minimize drift poisoning risks to my bee hives. That along with using low residual insecticide and spraying after supper in the evening helps keep my bees out of harms way. The seed treatments have averted disaster (fields too muddy to spray and keeping the planes out of my apiary). If bug populations escalate further, we may need to spray insecticide to protect our crop. Using a few managment tools and techniques can control bug pressures while leaving my hives un harmed. Beekeepers need to realize farmers need to treat and spray their crop. Farmers need to be more than obliging to use these treatments and sprays in a manner to keep our bees unharmed. IT WORKS ON THIS FARM.
I have not been getting much bee work done lately as the weather just will not allow it. I’ve had Carrie continue along with queen rearing to accommodate delays just as we are experiencing right now. Today we will pinch off 55 cell which have no home…another 55 ready tomorrow, Monday and all next week. My perfect split timing is soon going to pass with this next hatch and instead of counting brood frames I’ll be dealing with mobs of bees and swarm cells. Right now we are working the hives, evening out their brood, evening out their resources and issolating the queen before removing the split. (Ideal) If we start to get behind, I will revert to simply removing the top box and sort out the details later (as what I had to do last year). One thing about using queen cells is that they don’t fix bee work to a delivery date as buying mated queens do. Pinching cells is discouraging but cheap, having a couple hundred imported queens sit on my desk in a bank is stressful!
Words you will only hear the boss say around here,”Get the rain coats out”… We stripped splits and nucs this morning and set them into their new yards just as the rain started for the day. $$$ falling from the sky.
We split all that we have queens for, now the surplus found in the seconds will be used to build nucs. We are making 2 brood frame nucs with a frame of honey and 1 or 2 foundation. The first batch of queen cells designated for the split will be ready on Friday. The nucs are left on the hives over an excluder until we get time to collect and place them (usually done in the evening). We are mid way through the split, 5 days will finish it. The timing is perfect right now, I hope we get these days in shortly because 400 cells come ready throughout next week.
Here is a video of my bees devouring my protein supplement yesterday during a heavy pollen flow. During the split we are putting another 1/2 lbs on each half, pound #5. What I am trying to do is improve the nutritional health of my bees. Like any animal, an inconsistent diet increases the animal’s stress, either lack of food or the food’s lack of nutrition. My strategy is to supplement the bee’s spring diet to even out the irregularities of flow; provide consistent nourishment throughout weather events and supplement a lack of nutrients that might be in their collected pollen (a point we need to be more aware of as our natural environment is changing and we beekeepers are overstocking the landscape). My protein supplement is stock (off the shelf).
10 Brewers Yeast
10 Soy flour
5 dried egg
5 irradiated pollen
1/2 Cup of lemon Juice
1/2 Cup of canola oil
20 HFCS or mixed until desired consistency
The bees love soyflour and its cheap. The Brewers yeast helps balance out the protein profile and is a great source of Vit B. The dried egg (dried egg yoke is best but all I can find is whole dried egg) adds the fats. The pollen helps increase attractiveness. The lemon Juice adjusts the ph while adding Vit C. The Canola oil boosts specific fats. The HFCS is the sugar source and keeps the patty soft. This patty recipe is simple, cheap and stock. It is not meant as a substitute but is designed to supplement the bees diet to provide more consistency to the hives spring diet.
60 cells grafted each day, 97% take, busy schedule ahead! I ran short on cell bars and frames. Quick improvisation with Lewis frame pieces got the job done.
My Queen Rearing yard. Two days ahead of the graft we issolate the Queen uptop with all the open brood and enough bees. The capped brood is left in the bottom box (cell starter) along with all the workers of the hive. A solid division board is used to issolate the two chambers. We place two freshly grafted frames inbetween the capped brood with a good pollen frame inbetween and with a half gallon in a frame feeder. 36 hrs, we replace the solid board with a queen excluder which switches the starter to a finisher. 10 days after the graft we transfer the cells to the mating nucs. Disturbance to these hives while starting and finishing is kept to an absolute minimum.