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2022 Beekeeping Season

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jjhodge3

Premium Patron
Premium Patron
Dec 28, 2019
95
13
8
N Charlotte NC
Hello all,
wanted to start a thread for current beekeeping this season.
I started a class hosted by my counties beekeeping association, http://www.meckbees.org/meetings--events.html

It has been very interesting so far, a lot to learn about hive physiology, communication, nutrition and pest management. My mentor and I checked on a five frame Nuc she wants to sell me to start my first hive. It had about two solid frames of brood, nectar and pollen. Her frames were quotes used and dark, and she put a frame of honey from a dead out as one of the five frames. The other hives were in similar shape as far as brood and pollen. There isn’t a flow going on here yet though there were several forager bees bringing in pollen, a pale yellowish type. There was eggs and stages of larvae, so the colonies were queen right. I am planning to build a swarm box and try to catch a swarm this spring- wish me luck.
My first year plan is to get them to draw comb as much as possible, and get them through next winter ready for the spring nectar flow. Not expecting much honey this year, any will be a bonus. Also planning to pick up medium supers this week to get ready for the Nuc which should be ready mid March I hope.
Speaking with club members this past Thursday, several keepers are already putting on supers to give hives more room and reduce swarm tendency.
Please let me know what’s going on in your neck of woods.
Thanks,
James
 

4give

Honey Master
Registered Member
Jan 1, 2018
364
49
28
Montrose, CO
Howdy! Still too cold in my neck of the woods (SW Colorado). There have been some warm days though (including today), and the bees are out getting water, doing cleansing flights, etc. I do splits near the end of March. If I come out of winter with minimal losses, then I should be able to sell some nucs.
I'd say be careful with any dead-outs. If you know they died due to non-disease related problems, then it should be OK. You run into problems to address when transferring diseases like EFB, Nosema, etc. This only hurts the hive's chances of growing large and healthy. I'm sure the beek you're working with is aware of all that, so not worrying about your current nuc, just bringing up something to be aware of. ;)
 
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jjhodge3

Premium Patron
Premium Patron
Dec 28, 2019
95
13
8
N Charlotte NC
One step closer…picked up my hives this week. I will starting with two hives. One deep brood box and two medium supers. The nucs I have inquired about won’t be ready till late April or may, I feel like that will put me behind where I want to be with drawing comb and getting brood to a healthy level. I am hoping my swarm box will come through and give me a swarm in March. Whichever comes first, I am super exited to get into beekeeping. This weekend will be painting another coat on my hives, adding wax to plastic foundation (would love any tips for this).
James
 

4give

Honey Master
Registered Member
Jan 1, 2018
364
49
28
Montrose, CO
In my area, bee packages usually start in mid-April, and nucs in May. I wouldn't sweat the perceived delay. Weather also may turn for the worse and that can slow down nuc delivery. I've never had an issue getting a nuc up to speed (2 deeps full, minimum) by the time winter comes around if the colony has been healthy and no other problems. I feed them until they stop taking it. That's when you know there's enough nectar flow to keep them busy. Of course, I stop feeding if I'm able to put a super on.
I'm not exactly sure what you mean by adding wax to plastic foundation. Any plastic foundation I buy is already coated. If I had to add wax to it, I'd probably get a stick of beeswax and simply rub it on.
 

jjhodge3

Premium Patron
Premium Patron
Dec 28, 2019
95
13
8
N Charlotte NC
In my area, bee packages usually start in mid-April, and nucs in May. I wouldn't sweat the perceived delay. Weather also may turn for the worse and that can slow down nuc delivery. I've never had an issue getting a nuc up to speed (2 deeps full, minimum) by the time winter comes around if the colony has been healthy and no other problems. I feed them until they stop taking it. That's when you know there's enough nectar flow to keep them busy. Of course, I stop feeding if I'm able to put a super on.
I'm not exactly sure what you mean by adding wax to plastic foundation. Any plastic foundation I buy is already coated. If I had to add wax to it, I'd probably get a stick of beeswax and simply rub it on.
My mentor gave me some deep plastic frames. They have been sitting for some time and I can’t feel any wax on them. They also need to be washed of dirt and cobwebs as a result of being stored.

i have seen a test performed by a master beekeeper with no wax on foundation; light wax coating and heavy wax. The result was the bees drew out the waxed much faster than non waxed.

comb building being a goal this season, I will wax them to encourage comb building. The easiest method I have seen is using a ‘hot dog roller’ and beeswax in the crockpot, coating the frames with a light skin would encourage comb building.

on another note, may I ask what your pest management consists of?
James
 

Shelley

Honey Master
Registered Member
Sep 13, 2013
365
32
28
Harford, NY
MeadMagic.com
Those frames can probably be rinsed. The bees don't need super-clean to start with.

I usually rub down my plastic frames (I use one-piece plastic) with wax to emphasize the pre-printed comb. I used to melt wax then paint it on, but rubbing is easier and allows you to grab a frame and prep it as needed. In my experience the bees draw out the extra waxed comb much better. Leaving it with the waxing that comes from the store (or none at all) results in an out-and-out mess for the beekeeper.

Pest control depends on your location. For you, varoa and small hive beetles (SHB) are your two big troublemakers. You might start with this PDF for varroa SHB control starts with a strong colony (not too much space to defend) and can include swiffer pads, oil traps and diatomaceous earth. (Here's a good start for SHB.) Placing your hives on something inpenetrable to the earth (I use old rugs) can really go a long way to disrupting the life cycle of SBH and keeping it under control.
 

4give

Honey Master
Registered Member
Jan 1, 2018
364
49
28
Montrose, CO
My mentor gave me some deep plastic frames. They have been sitting for some time and I can’t feel any wax on them. They also need to be washed of dirt and cobwebs as a result of being stored.

i have seen a test performed by a master beekeeper with no wax on foundation; light wax coating and heavy wax. The result was the bees drew out the waxed much faster than non waxed.

comb building being a goal this season, I will wax them to encourage comb building. The easiest method I have seen is using a ‘hot dog roller’ and beeswax in the crockpot, coating the frames with a light skin would encourage comb building.

on another note, may I ask what your pest management consists of?
James
Shelley gave you some good info to start. I don't have to worry about SHB. Wax moth is one, but is only an issue for me if the colony is weak, which means I have another root cause to address. Varroa is the big pest. My advice is don't rest on just one method. I use screen bottom boards that can be closed up (with 'drawer'). I think I remember these only have about 10% efficacy, but I'll take every little bit I can get. I also do controlled splits in the Spring, and interrupt the brood cycle for many of the hives as I split and requeen. I've used the oxalic acid dribble method and formic acid for knock-down. My understanding is formic acid naturally occurs in honey, so it's not really a 'chemical' treatment like folks think of chemicals. I use any of these after supers are removed. There has been some studies that have shown many of these treatments do impact drone strength and fertility - possibly even queen fertility. One thing I won't use is the Hop Guard product.
I do also pay attention to those hives that seem more resistant and hygienic to varroa as well.
Drone comb frames are just a pain to deal with for me - just based on how I'm set up.
It's not really a pest, but I've had to deal with EFB too. I've learned from some commercial beeks that this can be overcome with proper nutrition, and I've had success nursing a hive back to full strength. I did not use antibiotics, but did use natural health aids.
I'm still learning a lot going into my 8th year.
 
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jjhodge3

Premium Patron
Premium Patron
Dec 28, 2019
95
13
8
N Charlotte NC
Took my certification test last night, should have results in one week. The practical part is in 3 months at my apiary. My swarm trap is ready with waxed plastic foundation (thanks for the tips)😉 Along with lemongrass and wax shavings. I believe I will find a place near my office to set it up. There is several acres with a stormwater system so the county keeps a strip mowed and a small creek. Plenty of forage within a few miles (lots of blackberries).
My latest mead, a metheglin with only citra hops, is slowly finishing out 1.038-40. When it hits .030 I will cold crash for a day or two and rack off the cake and put another must on top. Maybe a simple ginger mead this time.
 
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jjhodge3

Premium Patron
Premium Patron
Dec 28, 2019
95
13
8
N Charlotte NC
Took my certification test last night, should have results in one week. The practical part is in 3 months at my apiary. My swarm trap is ready with waxed plastic foundation (thanks for the tips)😉 Along with lemongrass and wax shavings. I believe I will find a place near my office to set it up. There is several acres with a stormwater system so the county keeps a strip mowed and a small creek. Plenty of forage within a few miles (lots of blackberries).
My latest mead, a metheglin with only citra hops, is slowly finishing out 1.038-40. When it hits .030 I will cold crash for a day or two and rack off the cake and put another must on top. Maybe a simple ginger mead this time.
Update: passed my written part of certification. Practical in four months. Highly encourage doing this If you are inclined and don’t have too much going on to invest in beekeeping. Built 2 more swarm traps this weekend. In my area, we should have one more cold snap coming through next weekend and we should be 50’s to 70’s and out of late winter into spring. Red maple and bradfords are mid bloom along with daffodials and early dandelion. 22* here last night, had to cover our tulips and hyacinth. Had a volunteer cilantro in the herb garden that is looking rough. Ready to set these traps and get some free bees.
how are things in your neck of the woods?
 
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Shelley

Honey Master
Registered Member
Sep 13, 2013
365
32
28
Harford, NY
MeadMagic.com
Winter's not ready to give up -- we got 10" of snow this weekend, and I'm still working my sap run. A couple of weeks left here until we get some foraging.
 

4give

Honey Master
Registered Member
Jan 1, 2018
364
49
28
Montrose, CO
Winter's not ready to give up -- we got 10" of snow this weekend, and I'm still working my sap run. A couple of weeks left here until we get some foraging.
Hey! What do you mean by "sap"? Do you do maple sap/syrup too?
 

4give

Honey Master
Registered Member
Jan 1, 2018
364
49
28
Montrose, CO
Update: passed my written part of certification. Practical in four months. Highly encourage doing this If you are inclined and don’t have too much going on to invest in beekeeping. Built 2 more swarm traps this weekend. In my area, we should have one more cold snap coming through next weekend and we should be 50’s to 70’s and out of late winter into spring. Red maple and bradfords are mid bloom along with daffodials and early dandelion. 22* here last night, had to cover our tulips and hyacinth. Had a volunteer cilantro in the herb garden that is looking rough. Ready to set these traps and get some free bees.
how are things in your neck of the woods?
Good job on the test!
I'm in SW Colorado - mountain valley - so this time of year can mean all sorts of weather (it's Colorado). I'm hoping to come into Spring with 10 colonies right now. The hives at my house (a bit lower elevation than my others) have started bringing in some pollen. I think the cream colored stuff is from willow trees. Looks like they've found some light orange stuff too, but not sure where that's coming from. Right now the colonies are just hanging on and ready to ramp up for when things do start blooming.
I've never had any luck with swarm traps. I know folks do though, but I tried for 3 years in various locations - nothing. I have caught some swarms though That can be some effort. Last year I finally witnessed a mating flight in the Spring and right when the wind kicked up to about 30mph. That was crazy!
 

jjhodge3

Premium Patron
Premium Patron
Dec 28, 2019
95
13
8
N Charlotte NC
Boiling down sap, Reminds of one summer at a family reunion in southern Georgia. My uncles grew sugar cane and had some aged after harvesting and seems like some was fresh cut. I was probably 11 or 12 years old. We had a metal drum with a cheesecloth on top. A cast iron roller with a long branch that we hitched a mule on the long end and walked it in a circle to turn the rollers. Fed the sugar cane in the rollers and it squeezed the juice into to drum. Wood fire beneath a large cauldron in a shed type structure nearby kept the boil on until the juice became syrup and cooled enough to scoop up into a mason jar. Would like to do that again!
 
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Shelley

Honey Master
Registered Member
Sep 13, 2013
365
32
28
Harford, NY
MeadMagic.com
Awesome! I might reach out later when I want to try an acerglyn... If you've done any of those anyway :giggle:
I did in 2010 and 2012, but haven't bothered since. The batches I made were light, but they need to be backsweetened. I since discovered that I like maple liqueur much, much more. 🥃
 
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jjhodge3

Premium Patron
Premium Patron
Dec 28, 2019
95
13
8
N Charlotte NC
Next batch will be a kolsch style braggot. K 97 yeast, 2 row pale malt, wheat malt and caramunich. Tettnanger to bitter and saaz for flavor and aroma. BlackBerry honey.
 
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Docsab

NewBee
Registered Member
Feb 10, 2022
9
3
3
Wrightstown, PA
2nd year Beek here. Of course the biggest challenge to a 1st year beekeeper is getting them through the winter. If I may give a single piece of advice from my limited experience to the newbees, it's be aggressive with your Varroa testing and treatments. I had a strong hive of 2 deeps with plenty of resources going into the winter (Southeastern PA). My mentor taught me how to give an oxalic acid treatment and we did 3 of them in the fall. My mentor also told me not to worry about testing for varroa when I was hesitant to sacrifice 300 bees to an alcohol wash. Wrong!! I lost the hive to a dead out this winter. It had plenty of resources and when I did an alcohol wash on 300 of the dead bees still clinging to the frame, my varroa count was 88!! Test, test, test and treat aggressively. Use powdered sugar method if sacrificing the bees is not in your karma. Don't make the same mistake I did. The hive can look very healthy going into winter before the diseases the mites bring decimate the hive very quickly.
 
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