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GuyNir 

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Maybe the wind off the sea down by you is having a little effect but I assure you its coming your way sir. Cheers.
Good flying here in the last 2-3 days. Out in force. Hamming next to every snowdrops patch.
 

pargyle 

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I had a large colony 1 year in the garden that had drones flying all winter. I expected to find a drone layer on my first inspection. What I did find was a patch of drone cells/brood on 1 frame slap bang in the centre of cluster area.
Yes ... they just don't read the right books do they ? I think it's only beekeepers that worry about the presence of drones ... some colonies just like to keep a few blokes for entertainment I suspect !
 

Jonnyl 

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Yes ... they just don't read the right books do they ? I think it's only beekeepers that worry about the presence of drones ... some colonies just like to keep a few blokes for entertainment I suspect !
Amazonian slave drivers! What happened to male emancipation and equal rights? We demand an inquiry. 😉
 

Petronella 

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I need some help on a hive I checked this morning. After taking the roof off I looked through the poly CB and saw the bees munching the fondant, 6kg given in december after vaping finished. Rammed. Bees on nine seams, 14x12. I'm concerned that at this rate they might swarm before I can do an inspection? I'm in scotland, 10 deg, and don't check until April normally but I'm unsure if this situation requires action sooner. Can anyone help please? TIA.
Hi Jonnyl, last year my bees were exploding out of their hives end of March when I did the first inspection and I consequently had a swarm on 7th April which I managed to catch... I live in Surrey. It was my first proper season as a beginner.... very daunting. So I will inspect earlier this year, whatever people say... bees are already super busy on a warm day... make sure the queen has space to lay and only give fondant if they really need it. Last year I had left lots of honey plus gave fondant being a worried beginner and in spring the brood box was still chockabloc full of stores and maybe they swarmed because of that, no space to lay? I’m on a steep learning curve myself. This forum has been brilliant, I’d like to thank everybody for their helpful comments.
 

Beebe 

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Last year I had left lots of honey plus gave fondant being a worried beginner and in spring the brood box was still chockabloc full of stores and maybe they swarmed because of that, no space to lay? .
I also think that the unmetered supply of fondant which seems to be recommended in most places online, is likely to lead to that situation. There's a lot of emphasis on keeping your bees from starving and yet a lot of them seem to "starve" despite copious use of fondant. It seems that some (new?) beekeepers think there's a "formula" to successful beekeeping, and fondant as "insurance" is maybe part of that formula.
I look at it like a game of russian-roulette; in order to ensure plenty of room for early season brood, I want the stores run down as far as possible to the point when they start to find food out in the field. The risk I take is that they will run out of nosh....the pay-off, if it comes, is that the bees find plenty of brood-space just where and when they need it.
 

madasafish 

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I also think that the unmetered supply of fondant which seems to be recommended in most places online, is likely to lead to that situation. There's a lot of emphasis on keeping your bees from starving and yet a lot of them seem to "starve" despite copious use of fondant. It seems that some (new?) beekeepers think there's a "formula" to successful beekeeping, and fondant as "insurance" is maybe part of that formula.
I look at it like a game of russian-roulette; in order to ensure plenty of room for early season brood, I want the stores run down as far as possible to the point when they start to find food out in the field. The risk I take is that they will run out of nosh....the pay-off, if it comes, is that the bees find plenty of brood-space just where and when they need it.

Absolutley NO need for Russian Roulette or guessing.

Before our main nectar flow in Late April-May, I go through all my colonies and remove frames that are all honey and replace with drawn comb, leaving only 1 frame (nett) of honey.
SO lots of space to lay.

And that is what many other beekeepers do...the timing may be different but the principle is :make space for teh Q to lay before they decide to swarm.
If you want to get a reasonable honey harvest, it is the way to go.
 

Beebe 

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Before our main nectar flow in Late April-May, I go through all my colonies and remove frames that are all honey and replace with drawn comb, leaving only 1 frame (nett) of honey.
SO lots of space to lay.
Thank-you. That's exactly what I am planning to do, but I'm really thinking about this current period, late Feb/early March, where the brood-rearing may be limited, but is definitely in progress. Given that as a patient (and northerly beekeeper) I'm not going to be "having a wee look ;) ), I'm dependent on my feeling that the hive still has a good weight of stores...there won't be much coming in up here for a while.

What I'm getting at is that at this stage I'm reading, (elsewhere...admittedly) that a bit of fondant does no harm....I differ, in thinking, "maybe it will?" This forum seems more tempered in such advice and I think it encourages people to think, rather than blindly follow.(y)
 

gmonag 

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I also think that the unmetered supply of fondant which seems to be recommended in most places online, is likely to lead to that situation. There's a lot of emphasis on keeping your bees from starving and yet a lot of them seem to "starve" despite copious use of fondant. It seems that some (new?) beekeepers think there's a "formula" to successful beekeeping, and fondant as "insurance" is maybe part of that formula.
I look at it like a game of russian-roulette; in order to ensure plenty of room for early season brood, I want the stores run down as far as possible to the point when they start to find food out in the field. The risk I take is that they will run out of nosh....the pay-off, if it comes, is that the bees find plenty of brood-space just where and when they need it.
It seems to me that just "slapping on a kg" of fondant is merely an acceptable way of admitting you got the provisioning wrong in autumn.
"Oh no harm done - just add some fondant", when it should be, "I got it badly wrong and now I have to resort to emergency actions. I won't make that mistake again".
 

Boston Bees 

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It seems to me that just "slapping on a kg" of fondant is merely an acceptable way of admitting you got the provisioning wrong in autumn.
"Oh no harm done - just add some fondant", when it should be, "I got it badly wrong and now I have to resort to emergency actions. I won't make that mistake again".
How many rose boxes do you leave for winter stores please, to be 100 percent sure they have enough? Genuine question
 

gmonag 

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I over-winter in two boxes for most colonies. A small late split will only need one. Two Rose boxes have the same volume as a National brood + 1/2.
In the autumn I consolidate the stores from upper boxes into the bottom two until the weight indicates 20kg of honey. I continue to weigh the hives every week or two during the winter to monitor the stores. ATM (1 Mar), the lightest still has 10kg. Any stores remaining in spring can be extracted without any fear of sugar adulteration.
 

Beebe 

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I over-winter in two boxes for most colonies. A small late split will only need one. Two Rose boxes have the same volume a National brood + 1/2.
In the autumn I consolidate the stores from upper boxes into the bottom two until the weight indicates 20kg of honey. I continue to weigh the hives every week or two during the winter to monitor the stores. ATM (1 Mar), the lightest still has 10kg. Any stores remaining in spring can be extracted without any fear of sugar adulteration.
So, do you manage without Autumn feeding...I'm already suspecting you are able to avoid fondant?
 

madasafish 

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Thank-you. That's exactly what I am planning to do, but I'm really thinking about this current period, late Feb/early March, where the brood-rearing may be limited, but is definitely in progress. Given that as a patient (and northerly beekeeper) I'm not going to be "having a wee look ;) ), I'm dependent on my feeling that the hive still has a good weight of stores...there won't be much coming in up here for a while.

What I'm getting at is that at this stage I'm reading, (elsewhere...admittedly) that a bit of fondant does no harm....I differ, in thinking, "maybe it will?" This forum seems more tempered in such advice and I think it encourages people to think, rather than blindly follow.(y)

The one problem with hives having lots of stores in winter when they have brood is:
IF it is very cold, the bees will not leave the brood to find food. Their main aim is brood survival.
Hence you get isolation starvation where the bees starve being isolated from (often lots of) stores.
Been there.

Truer for weaker hives and nucs.
SO placing fondant directly over the occupied frames gives instantly available food. On top of the bars best - a CB may be too cold.

Now we have had -6c since December in a run of cold nights and there is brood rearing going on - of some sorts I assume (not looked) but with fondant immediately available not a worry (I am talking maximum of 1KG fondant for hives, nucs half that, mini nucs about 20%)


Once weather warms up I will remove it...

If our climate sorry weather - was not so variable but it is...

And yes my hives are insulated.
 

beeno 

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Yes ... they just don't read the right books do they ? I think it's only beekeepers that worry about the presence of drones ... some colonies just like to keep a few blokes for entertainment I suspect !
You wish. No chance to perform just sitting around eating the stores!
 

pargyle 

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You wish. No chance to perform just sitting around eating the stores!
If the colony didn't want them they would not be there ... there's more to drones than we know about or understand - a bee colony is the ultimate social organism ... there are never any passengers.
 

beeno 

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If the colony didn't want them they would not be there ... there's more to drones than we know about or understand - a bee colony is the ultimate social organism ... there are never any passengers.
The law of diminishing returns in trying to get rid of every single one!
 

pargyle 

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The law of diminishing returns in trying to get rid of every single one!
Oh .. I dunno ... if the bees want to do it they will do it ... have you never seen them dragging something far larger than they are out of the hive entrance ... and the team effort that they put in when one is struggling. I think they keep drones for a reason ... I don't know what that reason is outside of the mating season but I'm pretty sure they have one.
 

rook66 

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Yes perhaps, that's part of my worry but I'll simply have to keep looking in every few days, even if just to top up fondant perhaps. I wont open them till its warm enough though or I see my first drones or both. It's still sub zero here at night.
Count your blessings, I have a different problem, weak nucs going into Winter, now I am rotating the couple of polys that I have as ICUs to get them through, If I knew then what I know now??
 
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