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i noticed someone doing their first inspection today

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Hebeegeebee 

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If it's T shirt weather, it's OK.
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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we now have circa 5 people keeping bees in and around our village and noticed an inspection going on today

i think i inspected early march the last two years
It's unfortunate, but people just take in the bits that suit them when they read and don't think of the whole picture. Very few reasons to justify an inspection at this time of the year, it's not often I open up earlier than late March, in fact last March was the first time I can remember opening up before the convention date (it may have actually been the proposed date of the convention, which was cancelled due to Covid)
If it's T shirt weather, it's OK.
A few years ago I spent most of Christmas day, outside in a T shirt. didn't feel any compulsion to open up a hive.
 

Mint Bee 

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someone used to use the mantra of 'ask yourself why you are opening the hive, and if there's no good reason don't do it'. If they are flying they are alive for now. it is T shirt weather in the south - I checked fondant levels on a dozen hives at lunchtime. didn't need to do any more
 

Rockingod 

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Did about 20 yesterday. Just a quick 'look in' check on stores and queen laying status of the breeder colonies (for the yearly diary only). All well apart from one possible failure. Only another 130 ish to do and as they say 'time and tide etc' !!
 

Cuckmere couple 

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someone used to use the mantra of 'ask yourself why you are opening the hive, and if there's no good reason don't do it'. If they are flying they are alive for now. it is T shirt weather in the south - I checked fondant levels on a dozen hives at lunchtime. didn't need to do any more
yes.....'are you doing this for their benefit or for yours'!
 

pargyle 

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It's unfortunate, but people just take in the bits that suit them when they read and don't think of the whole picture. Very few reasons to justify an inspection at this time of the year, it's not often I open up earlier than late March, in fact last March was the first time I can remember opening up before the convention date (it may have actually been the proposed date of the convention, which was cancelled due to Covid)

A few years ago I spent most of Christmas day, outside in a T shirt. didn't feel any compulsion to open up a hive.
Even down here on the Costa del Fareham which is far warmer, drier and less windswept than you get up there in Wales I wouldn't consider any sort of inspection until it really got consistently into double figures and down here thats not until Mid to late March. What can an earlier inspection tell you ... ? Nothing of any real benefit to the bees .. fiddling for the sake of it. For those (Like me !!) who hate sitting on their hands the benefits of clear crown boards are self evident ....

It's very reassuring watching the pollen coming in on the landing board and bees through the crownboard wandering about on the top of the frames.
 

bobba 

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I checked fondant levels on a dozen hives at lunchtime. didn't need to do any more
Why do you have fondant on your hives now? And do all your hives have fondant on now?

Do you try to ensure they have fondant available all winter long?

I have never used fondant and just feed mine syrup in the autumn. I can understand why you would feed a hive that was very light on stores, but why feed them all now? (if you are feeding them all)

And are you not concerned that they will end up getting fondant in the honey if you feed now?

I am not implying there is anything wrong with what you do, its just very different to the approach I have come to use, so I am curious.
 

pargyle 

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Why do you have fondant on your hives now? And do all your hives have fondant on now?

Do you try to ensure they have fondant available all winter long?

I have never used fondant and just feed mine syrup in the autumn. I can understand why you would feed a hive that was very light on stores, but why feed them all now? (if you are feeding them all)

And are you not concerned that they will end up getting fondant in the honey if you feed now?

I am not implying there is anything wrong with what you do, its just very different to the approach I have come to use, so I am curious.
Fondant should be your friend around this time of the year if you have miscalculated the stores they have put away in Autumn .. allowing them to fill up on late season nectar (in my area Ivy) followed by a top up of syrup or Invert should be the regime. In a 14 x 12 box plenty to see them through ... even in standard nationals with some bees it is possible. If they run short then fondant may need to be added.

There is a propensity among some beekeepers to just slap fondant on to the colony and keep feeding them well into spring.

I agree with you - it's not necessary and has all sorts of risks. Get it right in autumn and heft/weigh and feed as necessary. Nobody wants their bees to starve but overfeeding can have detrimental effects ..
 

Mint Bee 

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Why do you have fondant on your hives now? And do all your hives have fondant on now?

Do you try to ensure they have fondant available all winter long?

I have never used fondant and just feed mine syrup in the autumn. I can understand why you would feed a hive that was very light on stores, but why feed them all now? (if you are feeding them all)

And are you not concerned that they will end up getting fondant in the honey if you feed now?

I am not implying there is anything wrong with what you do, its just very different to the approach I have come to use, so I am curious.
It was warm in November and I had plenty of bees flying. They may have topped up with ivy, but it seams to me that any granulated stores are the last choice of food, based on my spring inspections, and bring their own issues. I feed syrup in the autumn and usually put a kilo or so on the hives at Christmas, rather than a big slab. I use this as a check to see if this is being taken or not (I know they could be storing it rather than using it, but I'd rather take feed filled frames out at the first inspection than the alternatives. they will get used in nucs). Call it a belt and braces approach - I hate finding failed / starved colonies. Its depressing and I feel in the majority of cases is down to the beekeeper (me) not observing / addressing things at an earlier stage.
Any feed from syrup in the autumn to fondant in the winter / spring could end up in the honey, its about trying to minimise this and balancing when to stop feeding. I tend to remove some old brood frames at first inspection so the stores can be used for drawing out new foundation.
Based on my observations, there was plenty of pollen coming in today, but few if any bees full of nectar. Last thing I want to do is starve a colony at this stage; it is only February and even down in the warm south we are still likely to get cold wet weather for some time to come. At this time I probably wont aim to add any more fondant unless the hives feel light or we get a prolonged period of crappy weather

I suppose i keep bees to the mantra that 'dead bees make no honey'. To me its a substantial hobby that I balance around other commitments, and it (usually) makes a small profit each year. I read with interest one bee farmer mentioning emergency fondant rounds a few weeks ago and that that would do until syrup feeds in March. Totally different situation, aim and location but shows there are many different ways to keep bees. I just try to pick out ideas that I think will work for me, and if they don't, I try a different approach.

hope this satisfies your curiosity booba
 

BigAshW 

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It's unfortunate, but people just take in the bits that suit them when they read and don't think of the whole picture. Very few reasons to justify an inspection at this time of the year, it's not often I open up earlier than late March, in fact last March was the first time I can remember opening up before the convention date (it may have actually been the proposed date of the convention, which was cancelled due to Covid)

A few years ago I spent most of Christmas day, outside in a T shirt. didn't feel any compulsion to open up a hive.
And yet there's the Essex BKA magazine promoting first inspection at the end of Feb...🤷
 

beeno 

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Did about 20 yesterday. Just a quick 'look in' check on stores and queen laying status of the breeder colonies (for the yearly diary only). All well apart from one possible failure. Only another 130 ish to do and as they say 'time and tide etc' !!
I did one of my colonies today 15°C as I was concerned about stores. I am glad I did as they had a small patch of capped brood, a few larvae, but a whole side of eggs on one frame. Gave them a new slab of fondant so they should be ok for the next 14 days even if they brood in earnest. Surprised how much pollen they had.
 

bobba 

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hope this satisfies your curiosity booba
Thanks so much. Some great tips thrown in there too.

You have certainly got me thinking about getting some back up fondant ready for next winter. I have been lucky so far but never know if I may need some.

I have landed on the theory of "replacing the honey you take", then hope for the best mantra. And was partly of the school of thought that says let the weak die. But like most my methods it may have been chosen on a basis of what I heard first or loudest at the time.

I agree with Pargyle that over zelist feeding may case problems, but you sound like you have things well managed. I see little risk in feeding a hive thats running low. Like you basicaly say, there is no point in letting bees die.
 

WoodenBeam 

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Just my two pennies worth - it the first year I’ve ever fed any quantity of fondant. No change in autumn prep with regard to syrup and timings etc but hefting over winter has meant about 40% of my colonies now have fondant on. There was no real Ivy flow here last year to top up on syrup stores (or a real main flow for that matter). Hopefully with spring around the corner any left will just get used with early brood production.
 

domino 

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My apiary is like a mud bath at the moment, even if the sun was out I wouldn't want to navigate the field.
 

Firefly 

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My apiary is like a mud bath at the moment, even if the sun was out I wouldn't want to navigate the field.
Seems like we are two nations, doesn't it?! I spent yesterday morning doing quite hard work clearing and shifting brambles in my very sheltered, south-Midlands apiary, wearing jumper, heavy coat, hat and overtrousers (and gauntlets!). I did not feel minded to take any of them off. Winds in the open were gusting up to 40mph+ One colony was dribbling in a bit of pollen, possibly from the crocus right beside the hive, three were looking out of the entrance going "you must be b****y joking!"

All of them were taking fondant - but possibly only as a kindness to me, not because they really need it
 

Moobee 

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Even down here on the Costa del Fareham which is far warmer, drier and less windswept than you get up there in Wales I wouldn't consider any sort of inspection until it really got consistently into double figures and down here thats not until Mid to late March. What can an earlier inspection tell you ... ? Nothing of any real benefit to the bees .. fiddling for the sake of it. For those (Like me !!) who hate sitting on their hands the benefits of clear crown boards are self evident ....

It's very reassuring watching the pollen coming in on the landing board and bees through the crownboard wandering about on the top of the frames.
Best thing I did was buy a polycarbonate quilt.
 

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