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gill68 

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This is the first full year I will have had with my bees and , living out in the countryside ,I am surrounded by growing oil seed rape.
I have been reading up a bit and was wondering whether anyone has any practical experience regarding management of colonies in this sort of environment. Do I feed them up so they are at full strength by the time the oil seed rape is flowering for example? If so, when do I start feeding them the sugar syrup?
All the fields surrounding me seem to be rape.
I still have fondant on the hives at the moment which is being taken down. They have been bringing in quite a lot of mixed pollen over the last couple of days. Do I change to syrup now ?
I took the mouseguards off yesterday feeling that spring had sprung but am not sure whether I have done the right thing. I was worried that some of the pollen may get caught on the mousegaurd and it would make it more difficult for the bees. If I haven't made a blunder, does everyone put the entrance block in ?
Sorry, loads of questions!
Gill
 

Poly Hive 

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A bit of experience yes (two tons a year?) though the modern rape varieties are much faster flowering, then dying off, than the older ones.

If your temps are over 12 degrees or so then yes consider changing over to 1:1 syrup. Also consider feeding pollen patties. Also consider bruising your stores cappings and working your brood box. All these techniques will build up your colony much faster.


PH
 

Somerford 

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Hi Gill - welcome to the forum

if your hive has remained mouse free, it's unlikely you'll get any squatters in - most mice will still be relatively inactive and holed up somewhere until it gets a bit warmer - so you could remove the guard, although I'd leave it on until Mid march - it won't really affect pollen collection.

Once the weather warms up a bit, I tend to leave the entrance block in until mid/late April depending on how strong the colony is and the weather. Then you can leave it out until you either have a swarm (then it's a good idea to reduce the entrance to give those left a fighting chance of protecting their hive from robbing) or the wasps start, or you notice robbing going on in the beeyard.

Not everyone feeds pollen patties / syrup by any means in the spring - I tend to make do with candy on the hive in January but this year I will feed one colony to get it going as it is a weaker one that has survived the winter.

If you get a strong colony by the time the OSR starts flowering (ususally a colony on 7-9 frames) with a couple of supers ready to go, then you might, in a good season, do very well, rather than just 'well' ! But we warned, all that nectar and pollen flooding in can accelerate the swarming instinct and you can never have enough space in the hive (ie add a super before it's needed) and check for queen cells if you don't want to miss a swarm !

Hope this helps, but keep asking questions - you'll probably get a number of answers but that's the fun !

regards

S
 

thurrock bees 

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hi the biggest problems i have when they are on rape are.

... honey setting in the supers, i managed to get 99% of the honey out before it set.

... swarming intensions, they will build up very fast and will want to swarm.

... when the rape finished, they was very angry. so be warned and suit up well. ( it only lasts a week or two)


<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< this picture was taken on 2009 rape, note im doing a art. swam to stop them swarming
 
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You only need to "do anything" if you want the maximum honey crop which given this is your first year I suggest may not be your first priority. A maximum honey crop probably means more supers than you have and a lot of solidly set honey leading to a crash course in seeding etc.

I would do nothing special, if there is as much OSR as you describe then what you need to sort out are your swarm control methods - i.e. what are you going to do when/if(?) you find queen cells and have you got say 3 supers per hive as a minimum? You will then need the extracting sorted out and some buckets to put the honey in. Anticipate 100 lbs per hive upwards if they don't swarm and if they do swarm expect 60 lbs or so. Depending where you live the busy time will be late April into May.

The OSR season is a good time to start queen rearing so have empty nucs ready for any naturally produced queen cells. If you want to go down this route and forgo some of the honey put a second brood chamber on the hive, under the QX, and use the extra frames produced in the nucs.
 

gill68 

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Thanks so much for that folks; as usual; a very helpful bunch!
poly hive; what does it mean to 'bruise your cappings' ( sounds vaguely risque!) and 'work the brood box' ?

Thanks for the tip about cross bees deprived of osr. Is there something addictive in it that they get withdrawal symptoms from?
I wish it was over 12 degrees consistently even down here in Dorset, but I don't think we have got into double figures yet, so I guess its still fondant.
It's great to have some sort of idea of timings for nif naf such as mouseguard removal etc, so thanks.
Gill
 

gill68 

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Hi folks,
Thank you for all that wonderful advice. Its' great to have some idea of timings for all the little things like removing mouseguards/ entrance blocks etc.
Poly hive; what does 'bruising your cappings' and 'working the brood box' mean? They both sound a bit risqué!
Unfortunately the temperature even down here in Dorset hasn't consistently reached double figures so it will have to be fondant for the time being.
I will look out for angry bees once the flowers have finished; is there something addictive in OSR that causes them to have withdrawal symptoms?!
Still can't decide whether to try and build them up with sugar syrup or not, ready for the crop. I suppose it just depends how many frames they are on when I open them up soon?
Cheers
Gill
 

oliver90owner 

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Hi Gill,

Welcome to the forum.

As the rest and Rooftops specially, except that if you have open mesh floors, the entrance slot will make not a jot of difference.

Regarding 'bruising the cappings' Poly Hive means scratching the cappings on any remaining honey in the brood box so that the bees are encouraged to use it (clear the brood box frames for nest expansion) and to accelerate the build-up. Larvae need lots of protein for development, so the pollen patties may be necessary to balance their stores.

The risk may be that the colonies will need large amounts of food to prevent starvation if the crop is not on time for your bees!

You may need extra brooding space before the end of the rape crop if your bees are very prolific, may need to extract honey early (before crystallisation) if limited storage, etc etc. Remember, too, there may be very little forage after the OSR.

Regards, RAB
 

Hombre 

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. . . is there something addictive in OSR that causes them to have withdrawal symptoms?
Imagine kids with lots of sweets and then suddenly the cupboard is bear, with expectations still very high the "children" are likely to be very moody.

OSR gets the bees very worked up and excited. It must be like collecting chocolate bars :)
Not sure quite what it is except the sheer abundance of pollen available, until it runs out.
 

East Yorks New Bee 

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What sort of time frame do you have before OSR honey starts to set in the frames? A couple of my hives are at the edge of around 1000 acres of the stuff, they also have the gardens of a stately home, who say they have "over 4,000 different plant and flower species and a National collection of campanulas." to forage on as well, so I hope they will be ok for forage after the OSR.
 

oliver90owner 

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I have, in the past, taken it before it has been fully capped. Not a total disaster if a little crystallises - and there are several colonies which can clean up the frames. Can be a right pain, if loads still coming in, supers are full, bees swarm, weather goes cool and it starts to crystallise big time. Nowhere to put the next flow (beans?). Problems can escalate into 'I never want to see OSR honey again, ever!' Best to keep ahead of the game if at all possible.

Regards, RAB
 

Poly Hive 

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Good spot finman but in days gone by I had 60 to 80 colonies.

2240lb x 2 = 4480 divided by 60 = 76lb or 2 and a half supers .

Then off to the heather for another ton. :)

I bought my extractor with 6 drums of OSR, all from the same season. 1320 lbs.

PH
 

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