How to aid a good spring build up

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Queen Bee
Nov 8, 2008
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Finland, Helsinki
Hive Type
I can see on forums that spring build up is not interesting for beekeepers.
So it was to me before. I thought that it is what it is.

90% are that opinion that nature knows best. But you may aid nature to know better.

When I got my first carniolan queens 21 years ago, I noticed that they have dramatically quicker colony growth comparade to Italians.

* I found too that reason was pollen stores.
* next I found how important is heat economy in spring--> size of brood area.
* next will be problem of swarming because big hives swarm first
* next - I can aid small hives with bigger hives emerging brood and make small colonies faster to normal size.
1. stage

After winter colonies are what they are. You cannot make much to them. I put ventilation to minimum.
Colony may make 3-4 combs brood and you cannot accelerate much that stage. Small colonies are most difficult.

When hive has high brood temperature and it is cold outside, the consuption of food is hight. The possibilty of starving death is much more higher than in winter. That is why dont keep extra ventilation. The heat of colony will dry upp the hive. Don't ventilate the colony onto grounds.

** When first new nurser bees emerge, the colony have change to make large brood area. In that stage the heat economy is limiting factor.

** Good weathers - bad weathers inspire the colony enlarge the brood area or draw it back.

*** It is time to look if the hive has too much winter food which limits brooding

Many say that small winter cluster is an advantage. How?
In spring small clusters grow very slowly. They have biggest possibility to get nosema.
If the colony has nosema, its bees' digestion is ruined. Often the hive starts to grow normally when you give new emerging brood frame from healty hives.

There are allway good and bad hives in the apiary. Beekeepers like to see only those good ones like fishing stories. But the honey yield of the year is a sum from all hives. You have made equally work with hives all year around and how to get all apiry productive for yield is the purpose of spring build up.

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So what happens when we put on our pollen or pollen substitute patty? Does it mean that the bees have an easy source of sugar and protein to feed the brood?? Is this what gives fast build up?
This what I do.

I start pollen feeding in early Feb and also feeding of light syrup, a half feeder at a time.

I feel, and this is purely gut instinct that by feeding there is a reduction of stress on the old codgers and at that time every one of them is precious.

I then start to work the brood box by +1 method. And by adding frames to the nest I build them up until they are at 11 frames of brood.

Pretty straight forward.

So what happens when we put on our pollen or pollen substitute patty? Does it mean that the bees have an easy source of sugar and protein to feed the brood?? Is this what gives fast build up?

No. It is not. And nothing to do with easy.

***Pollen means continuous protein to larvae, non dependent on weathers.
In vague weathers bees get now and then pollen, but not perhaps enough all the time.

*** Food tease them. Bees think that they forage. Same happens in autumn feeding.
Too much feeding blocks laying cells.

*** warm hive box makes a big brood area possible, because they need 32C inside and at night temp is outside near 0C.

Folks think that the sun heats hives but it does not heat at night and during clowdy and rainy days. It is bees which heat the hive.


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A warm hive does indeed assist greatly.

Which is precisely why I use polystyrene. :)

Finman, as usual, is giving us the benefit of his vast experience and talking sense.
I admit I have been guilty of feeding in spring when it wasn't really necessary and banging on supers before they were really needed both of which hindered the very thing I was trying to achieve ie a strong colony asap in the season.

This season I will be paying much more attention to conserving heat and making sure that there is enough but not too much food available.

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