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MJBee 

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Lovely day yesterday so took the chance to go through all four colonies. One in particular astonished me:-
2008 Buckfast x ? queen, overwintered on double National brood boxes. I lifted off the top brood - it was heavy - and found the bottom brood crammed with bees, 7 frames of brood - eggs, larvae and big slabs of sealed worker and a few sealed drone round the margins, 4 frames of stores incl a lot of fresh pollen. Great I thought they have come through well.
I replaced the top box and opened it up to find another 6 frames of solid slabs of sealed worker brood:):):) It was also crammed with bees including some very young drones
13 frames of brood on 12 March has to be unusual
I gave them a super to ease the space situation and will keep a very close watch for signs of swarming
:cheers2: Mike

PS the other 3 colonies were fine also, 1 a bit short of bees but with plenty of sealed worker brood and another with a very spotty brood pattern (old queen)
 

MJBee 

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This spell of excellent weather has made a huge difference. 7 days of calm wall to wall sunshine day max of 23C and night min of 8C has resulted in a very rapid expansion. The super added on 13/3 is now 1/2 full and another has been added. Two other colonies had started to build comb in the eke that had contained fondant, so they were given supers too.:):)

A great start I just hope that late March and April don't bite me on the bum:(

Regards Mike
 

Jenxy 

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All the weather reports are saying the temp is going to drop off quick this week... if the bees are doing well, what happens when you get frost after a warm spell? Do you lose bees, or do they just go back to staying in the warm and not venturing out at all.
Also, do you have to think about feeding them again like you do over winter, or do they have enough stores of their own?
 

Finman 

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what happens when you get frost after a warm spell? Do you lose bees, or do they just go back to staying in the warm and not venturing out at all.
Also, do you have to think about feeding them again like you do over winter, or do they have enough stores of their own?

Bees drop down larva rearing. If new bees are emerging much, they are able to keep broodarea warm.

Hives need to have at least two weeks food store. No idea to feed every time when wether is bad.

A big problem becomes if you have empty box over the brood box or empty space too much in the hive. Heat escapes too much from brood.
 

Jenxy 

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Sorry If this is a silly question, but if you have put more room on top, then cold weather comes back, is it best to remove the space then?
 

Finman 

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Sorry If this is a silly question, but if you have put more room on top, then cold weather comes back, is it best to remove the space then?
In spring bees need space to expand the colony.
Put the space under the brood area where they may expand.

If colony is too tight, it swarms.

If hive is too cold, bees destroy part of larvae.
 

MJBee 

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Hi Jenxy,
As Finman says the biggest mistake is to give extra space before it is needed. Last year (remember Spring was a non event) I gave one of my colonies a Commercial brood box of foundation on 29 March as I was trying to change from National to Commercial. The bees totally ignored it and stayed with their brood in the National. They finally started to draw the foundation on 14 JUNE. By giving all that extra space I actually slowed down the spring expansion.
If the weather does turn to worms my "super colony" will be OK as the bees have spread out to fill all the boxes evenly, however if everyone is house bound for any length of time stores will be consumed at a pace. As soon as the weather turns I will weigh the hive and will then be able to keep track of stores.
:cheers2: Mike
 

Jenxy 

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I hope I don't sound too daft.... but at what point do you know for sure that you have to give more room.... I mean what are the obvious signs that you need to see. Would it be brood box full of bees, brood and stores, or is it more dependent on the weather then it is the bees?
 

Finman 

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Jenxy, that is a good question. That is important to learn to see it.

When you know your hives brood frame number and about the age, when they are emerging, you know what is ahead.

To me a sign "expand now" is that the last gap of frames are as full bees as in the center.

The last phase is that bees hang in front of entrance.

If bees have no empty cells where they move food to give more space for brood, that is one point.
 

Jenxy 

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Thanks Finman, 5 guess I will have to wait till I have my own bees before I can really start to learn:)
 

Norton 

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In the spring during the build up and honeyflow additional room should be given when the bees occupy 80% of the available space and the forecast is for good weather and incoming nectar.
Best regards
Norton.
 

Finman 

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In the spring during the build up and honeyflow additional room should be given when the bees occupy 80% of the available space .
In my climate that is not a good idea. After winter just now they occupye over 80% but it takes 2 months forward that the colony need new room. There is a long period when new bees emerge and old die and colony does not expand. Here willow pollen often stucks laying space and beekeepers take off pollen frames.
 
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Norton 

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as I said - if a nectar flow is upcoming and the forecast is for good weather. If your bees gather too much pollen and become pollen bound then the problem is with the genetics of the bees as pollen hoarders and not with the beekeeper.
I didn't mean that you should add room before the bees are building up. The situation you describe is when the colony is changing from winter bees to spring bees.
Of course you don't add room when the winter cluster is at 80%!
Best regards
Norton
 

Finman 

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But your advice is much more better than what beginners do: nothing. They do not open the hive to look.
During rape flow they do not know that the hive will be full honey in one week and then bees ad laying queen escape with swarm. I have seen this often.
 

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