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Author Topic: When do your hives wake up from winter and how do you spring manage?  (Read 527 times)

Offline Miikeboyle

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Just thinking ahead to spring so I can prepare. When does everyone's hives start to pick up? Do you wait until the first flow or feed to stimulate the queen to lay? Do you just constantly check for queen cells or do you split to give them some room to grow?

Thanks.

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: When do your hives wake up from winter and how do you spring manage?
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2017, 04:49:34 am »
Here in N FL they start to build up right after the winter solstice, December 22. You can just let them build up on their own but if you want them to be ready for the main flow you can start feeding them. I use a canning jar/lid with just 2 tiny holes. I want them building up but not back filling with sugar water. A little bit helps, too much will cause swarming.
Jim
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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: When do your hives wake up from winter and how do you spring manage?
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2017, 02:01:41 pm »
Well, they don't sleep over winter... they cluster and are constantly moving and humming... sometime after the winter solstice (Crhistmas) the will start rearing a little patch of brood.  Then they usually take a break and then raise a slightly larger patch of brood, then after another break they seriously get into brood rearing.  Usually by the time the red maples are blooming they really take off.  Here that is probably March or April, but some years is as early as February.    I never feed to stimulate brood rearing.  That typically results in too much brood too early and if they get caught in a cold snap they won't leave the brood and they starve.  If they don't get caught in a cold snap they swarm in April or early May well before the flow.  Prime swarm season here is from about mid May to mid June.  During that time you have to keep an eye on things.  Some years, though, it's two weeks early and some years it's two weeks late...  If I see swarm cells I split them.  I try to keep the brood nest open.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesswarmcontrol.htm
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesspring.htm
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfeeding.htm
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Offline eltalia

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Re: When do your hives wake up from winter and how do you spring manage?
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2017, 10:22:53 pm »
Just thinking ahead to spring so I can prepare. When does everyone's hives start to pick up? Do you wait until the first flow or feed to stimulate the queen to lay? Do you just constantly check for queen cells or do you split to give them some room to grow?

Thanks.

G'day Mike.
Given those NSW/ACT environs and a tablelands elevation it's likely you get to have more of a "four seasons" climate pattern over us subtropical BKs.
Still we have two seasons, the Wet and the Dry, times of management change which fall loosely into your question's relativity.
I have never fed colonies during the Wet, though I know some feel they need to. Likewise during the Dry where flora is on the wane, post the May to September boom. Water being an exception.
Both these periods would fit into a southern winter scenario for your question on feeding.
With cropping/flowering happening on the tablelands and no frosts occurring feeding may be entirely unecessary.  Those chilly/windy  days the bees will do housework, much the same as they do here in the Wet.
Swarm urges should be roughly the same for you as they are for us, around mid August through to October. Maybe a little later for you, given that glorious tableland summer!

As - in my interactions with other BK, Aussie wide -  it is usual practice to run single deep broodchambers, the 'norm' is to expand a colony out to a max of three deeps as storage. The regeneration in the broodchamber looks after itself. There exist studies which describe the numbers in queen laying activity to support that practice.
I believe the almond guys run a differing model.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2015-06-05/bees-prepare-for-almond-pollunation/6523662

Queen cell builds, aside from supercedes, are largely an indication the colony is uncomfortable in it's environment - either internaly or externally and sometimes both.  Mine own practice is to determine the presence of an efficient laying queen and move the hive well away, nukeing any QCells/cups.
This as usually I have put in any broodchamber controls prior to a predicted flow, circumventing any need to go look as both storage and broodchambers fill out. Activity around QC building is an alarm bell , in my book.
Colony replication is usually done with selective frames into a nucleus box, given a mail order queen.
There are exceptions, like it is not always possible to buy queens from South after April and the local suppliers... well ... it has proven to do just as well breeding one of your own as a backstop until a Southern queen becomes available.
BK running two deeps as a broodchamber - in an active storage colony -  to then 'split' those, relying on queen regeneration, has mostly ended in tears or at least no real gain over time. I do know of some who run a nucleus into a full deep and a medium, as a single colony, to then 'split' into two single deeps as a starter for new colonies, an introduced queen used. For mine the method is too much mucking around and resource intensive.

Long, but I trust it all gives up one perspective of your questions.

Cheers.

Bill

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: When do your hives wake up from winter and how do you spring manage?
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2017, 09:48:54 am »
Now that you posted where you're from and it's NSW, I'm confused that you think you have any winter...
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Offline eltalia

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Re: When do your hives wake up from winter and how do you spring manage?
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2017, 11:36:46 am »
Now that you posted where you're from and it's NSW, I'm confused that you think you have any winter...
A populist ideal held by many of our Northern Americas brethren, Michael.
As I have so recently discovered, well entrenched it is too :-)

NSW winter is as different to SA's as WA's winter is to winter in the NT, where
there is none, really. The NT is mid teens but dry, and so bees work.
Likewise here in FNQ, however we get rain, so no working in the rain.
From reads - and some travel - much the same could be said for the Americas
yet the scale is entirely more dramatic in variation.

So, in my mind, it is the thermal cutoff point that is relevant.
At what temperature/RH in which zone do bees begin to cluster in
warming and so not move around so much, let alone fly to forage.
Where hive design allows heat loss/air ingress, at what finite thermals do bees
begin to move to other frames in the hive or indeed up into stores, consuming
food.
For FNQ it is around the low teens (14Celcius/80%+RH)... nothing moves
outside the hive, and if one is unlucky enough to have to open a hive up
it is seen bees are well clustered with only internal tumbling happening.
Where those conditions prevail for a week or more significant amounts of
stores are consumed.
But our "winter" is our Wet Season which used to last for 3 months but we
haven't seen that in years now. Come December/January it is important to
have adequate stores on board to get through to late March, April in some
past Wet Seasons.

The bit you want to read first :-)))
Sure you guys in some zones get down to -40F/-40C but at what ambient temp
do the bees cluster at? Tell me I am wrong in believing it is way
way above 32F/0C???
NSW, Victoria, SA, Tasmania and lower WA often get well below 32F/0C with
winter declared at around 15F/12C. And let's not talk wind chill factor
which spins it all sideways! :-)


Cheers.

Bill


Offline Miikeboyle

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Re: When do your hives wake up from winter and how do you spring manage?
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2017, 03:18:37 pm »
Thanks for your answers so far. My bees are near Braidwood so about 3 hours south of Sydney closer to Canberra
http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/dwo/IDCJDW2018.latest.shtml
It's the middle of winter now so not too many bees leaving the hive. It will stay this way until around the end of August/start of September before it starts to warm up. We won't see any snow except on the rarest of occasions but frosts are almost daily.

My bees are in a double brood box. I was going to wait and see how they pull through winter and when the first flow is. Im pretty new to beekeeping so just wanted to make sure when spring comes I am ready to manage. Just want to be prepared to split or make a nuc if I have to to prevent swarming.

Thanks.

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: When do your hives wake up from winter and how do you spring manage?
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2017, 04:12:24 pm »
They cluster at 50 F (10 C).  That's a pretty loose cluster and I've seen them, on a calm sunny day, once, flying a regular stream of bees to somewhere when it was 27 F (-3 C).  But only once... they often take a cleansing flight when it's that cold though when it's calm and sunny.  There is NOTHING to forage here for six months most years.  From the first hard freeze to the first bloom can vary from three months to seven months.
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Offline eltalia

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Re: When do your hives wake up from winter and how do you spring manage?
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2017, 07:51:36 pm »

"There is NOTHING to forage here for six months "

Whilst you guys have my extreme symathy for such a climate you could weep
for us who will never get to eat roast duck with snow at the windows
and Xmas carols resonating from the bluetoothed woofers! :-)))

Xmas for us is held out on the verandah, cold beer in one hand, flyswat in the other !

Cheers.

Bill.

Offline eltalia

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Re: When do your hives wake up from winter and how do you spring manage?
« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2017, 08:00:29 pm »
"My bees are in a double brood box. I was going to wait and see how they pull through winter and when the first flow is."

Inspect the whole colony maybe a week after those first days of winter break, Mike.
Move the frames #1#2 and #9 up into the second super, removing the most filled/capped
frames to make room.
Add either drawn comb or new foundation frames to 1#2 and #9 spots in the brood chamber
and add a queen excluder. Make sure you see the queen in the brood chamber before closing up.
During the season add a super on top IF you see bearding happening maybe after 10AM through
to dusk.
For safety's sake only - who knows what next winter is going to bring - remove the excluder
after the season's honey is harvested.

Cheers.

Bill

Offline 220

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Re: When do your hives wake up from winter and how do you spring manage?
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2017, 06:24:53 am »
Now that you posted where you're from and it's NSW, I'm confused that you think you have any winter...

What would you class as a winter Michael?
Our average minimum temp for June was almost -3c, this month has been a little warmer averaging just below -1c so far. The max temp we have seen so far this month is 13c. No snow so far but late July/Aug is when we usually get a few falls. Max temp some days doesn't get much above freezing.

I know you have been to Aus but there is a massive difference in climate between the NSW coast and inland.

Offline eltalia

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Re: When do your hives wake up from winter and how do you spring manage?
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2017, 11:11:48 am »
G'day 220.
Michael Bush wrote; "They cluster at 50 F (10 C)."
So for the sake of Mike Boyle's question; "When does everyone's hives start to pick up"
... the clustering action which signifies a NH "winter" can end at 10C with
activity followed by flight at maybe anywhere north of 15C, depending on other weather
conditions and flora flowering events.

I think Michael was pretty clear on the length of northern winters
being the prime management problem for our Americas brethren.
By comparision we in Aussie have it good at what is basically a stretch of weeks
for 'dormancy'.

Cheers.


Bill





Offline 220

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Re: When do your hives wake up from winter and how do you spring manage?
« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2017, 08:30:04 pm »
Thanks eltalia, this is my first winter with bees and Im still trying to get my head around what to expect.
Historical temp records show we can expect 0c or below average min temps from May -Sept and average max temps of 12c or below for the same period although long term averages only have 3 months in this window. I thought this would pretty well shut them down but it doesn't appear to be the case.
I have had what I would class as a steady stream of bees flying (one leaving the hive every 10sec or so) before 9am on fine days with the sun out but temps below 5c. I noticed a couple of bees 2 weeks back returning to the hive with pollen baskets full on a cloudy day that the max temp didn't get above 10c.


Offline eltalia

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Re: When do your hives wake up from winter and how do you spring manage?
« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2017, 02:53:24 am »
[nodding]
... too true mate, there are going to bee exceptions by locale, for sure.

I think - and it is a guess - Mike along with many other new BK in wintery climes is looking for a
safe workable medium. In like enquiry for new BK in the Americas checking out how to prepare for
that -40C madness.
For us (dot AUS) the default action is to be certain stores in brood chambers are chockers before it
hits 15C, that bee work and close down the hive structure making sure air ingress is only sufficient
to allow the hive to breath, in expelling hot air.
That means making sure there are not holes or long gaps the bees cannot propolise in time for winter,
and the entrance is closed to a minimum - 200sq.mm for a nucleus and 900sq.mm for a single deep
and above.
Wire bar screens should be meshed to deny robbing bugs entrance to an unattended super and any
ventilated or screened bottom boards removed.

One cannot know without being there but knowing the bee ethos in colony survival it is more likely
"wintered" bees flying in what is not optimal field conditions is a sign of hive stress and not a factor
 of willing forage. I see it in years of an extended or 'spotty' Wet where us the keep has either robbed
out too late or zealously, leaving bees quite happy at the time but stressed months later.
Mike was asking about coming out of winter, so it is an early 'unpack' of the above, followed shortly
by expansion as it warms up, continuously, is maybe the safest course of action until a new BK gets
to know the climate pattern for the area.
That said, we (dotAUS) have had some bloody wild winters and Wets these last few years... keeps
one on one's toes, so to speak :-)

Cheers

Bill

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: When do your hives wake up from winter and how do you spring manage?
« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2017, 10:04:33 pm »
>What would you class as a winter Michael?

Nothing blooming.  Freezing weather.  At least for three months... otherwise how is it winter?  It's just a cold spell if it's under that.
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Offline Andersonhoney

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Re: When do your hives wake up from winter and how do you spring manage?
« Reply #15 on: July 16, 2017, 08:15:48 am »
The hardest thing here can be just that Michael.  "Nothing blooming". As spring comes with promise a dry spell as hives are coming out of winter can turn into a hot September (our first month of spring), then continue into an extended period of hot and  dry, that can last all spring, summer and autumn.  Leaving the potential of 9 to 15 month with insufficient nectar and pollen supply to survive the next winter.

Offline Acebird

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Re: When do your hives wake up from winter and how do you spring manage?
« Reply #16 on: July 16, 2017, 09:42:35 am »
Leaving the potential of 9 to 15 month with insufficient nectar and pollen supply to survive the next winter.

You are Down Under so it is flip side.  Your extended dearth is summer our extended dearth is winter.  The one advantage you have is that you can feed / supplement in your dearth, we can't.  We can make sure our hives are well provisioned for our dearth and that is usually all it takes.  Bees take care of the rest.
Brian Cardinal
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Offline chorrylan

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Re: When do your hives wake up from winter and how do you spring manage?
« Reply #17 on: July 16, 2017, 01:30:10 pm »
My bees are near Braidwood so about 3 hours south of Sydney closer to Canberra
It's the middle of winter now so not too many bees leaving the hive. It will stay this way until around the end of August/start of September
Mine are in Canberra and dealing with overnight temperatures below zero Celsius most nights
yet on sunny days, even at temps in the 5-10C range they are out actively collecting nectar.

Around here it seems to be ambient light level and rain that impacts their activity more than the temperature itself (and obviously... the availability of a nectar source; my suburb seems to have more winter-flowering eucalypts than summer ones)

Last year the difficult stage for my bees was about 5 weeks of rainy days in spring that kept the bees shut in; during which they consumed an awful lot of their stores and chalk brood became a pain.

Offline eltalia

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Re: When do your hives wake up from winter and how do you spring manage?
« Reply #18 on: July 17, 2017, 02:47:14 am »
"Around here it seems to be ambient light level and rain that impacts their activity more than the temperature "
Ditto.
Although another is found here in extreme heat where there is a marked improvement
 in colony stress levels if ample water over a coarse sand base is placed in the apiary.
We have major cropping in summer months but little surface water, causing bees
to spend time collecting water from often afar.

Cheers.
Bill

Offline chorrylan

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Re: When do your hives wake up from winter and how do you spring manage?
« Reply #19 on: July 17, 2017, 12:35:56 pm »
Although another is found here in extreme heat
I've become a convert to polystyrene hives largely because of the reduced stress on the bees in seriously hot weather.


 

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