• February – Paul’s Newsletter

    Date: 2018.02.12 | Category: Newsletter, Tips and Tricks | Tags:

    Paul’s Winter/Spring Newsletter

    Greetings All!     I’ll try to do better, I promise.

    When the weather is pleasant and the sun shines on my hives, you can almost hear the girls singing.  Cold days keep knocking us back a little, but they recover quickly.

    If you haven’t treated your bees for mites yet this winter, about your only option now is formic acid (Mite Away Quick Strips.  If you haven’t treated them, I STRONGLY recommend that you do right away.

    I am very close to rotating my hive bodies to reduce swarming.  (On a double-deep hive, put the top box on the bottom and the bottom box on top.)  I will ONLY do this if most of the bees are int eh top box now.  It’s also a great time to put a Mite Away Quick Strip between the two.  The reason I do this is to give the bees a sense of more room.  In many hives after winter, you will see that virtually all the bees, brood and food are in the top box. Since bees always move up, rotating the boxes gives them somewhere to move up to, thus reducing the need to swarm.

    I’ve been feeding my bees all during the cold weather, just to make sure they have enough food.  When it’s as cold as it has been, you can’t open the hives to check.  The red quince on my farm has started to bloom in the last few days, so I am feeding all my hives now to stimulate the queen to lay.  By the time these eggs hatch (21 days), early blooming plants should be providing the nourishment the young bees need.  Your goal is to have as large a population of bees as possible as early in the blooming season as possible.  (And still discourage swarming).  The ONLY thing I do to prevent swarming is providing my bees with plenty of room to grow and by doing splits as I have time.  I never cut queen cells or clip queen wings.  In my opinion, that’s a recipe’ for disaster.

    Remember that we can have swarms as early as the First of March.  Counting backwards, since queens hatch at day 18, you might begin to see swarm cells as early as the middle of February (only about a week away).  That’s a little early, but certainly not unheard of.  Speaking of splits, that’s the best way to prevent swarms because you’re actually beating the bees to the punch, creating an artificial swarm YOU control instead of them.

    Anybody can do a split with a swarm cell.  All you have to do is divide the hive in half, making sure the queen is in one half and the swarm cell(s) in the other half.  Each half should have an equal amount of honey, brood, pollen and bees.  Then move one of the halves two miles away for 2-3 weeks.  For those of you who remember how to “notch” a queen cell, you don’t even have to have a swarm cell.  Anytime I see a swarm cell, it’s a free and easy chance to do a split.

    I’ve got a pretty good PowerPoint program on “Catching a Caring for Swarms” I did at the GBA meeting last year.  I’ve been asked to present it at the LaGrange club in February and the Tara club (McDonough) in March.  If we have an open meeting soon, I’ll be glad to do it for our club if you like.

    The Georgia Beekeepers Association Spring Conference is being held in Griffin next weekend, so register and come if you can.  It is an exceptional learning experience.  You can meet and talk to people there who are a heckofa lot smarter than me.

    Don’t forget to promote our Spring Beekeeping Course beginning February 24th.  Tell friends and neighbors to call Oxbow Meadows, (706)507-8550, to sign up.

    I’m in conversation with Dr. Keith Delaplane now about holding the Certified Beekeeper exam here in Columbus in Mid April, for those interested.  Once I get past the GBS meeting next weekend, I’ll be able to concentrate on that and will let you know as plans progress.

    If you have any questions or want me to discuss a topic in these (infrequent, sorry) newsletters, shoot me an email.

    Be good to your bees!

    Paul