Monday, April 25, 2016

What Is Going On In Maria's Apiary: More Equalizing and Getting Ready for Splits

Bees are boiling over the sides while equalizing the brood
The queen bee, doing her best to populate the brood nest
As I mentioned last week, there are many ways to make sure that your honey bee hives are of the same strength. The easiest way is to switch the place of a weak hive with that of a strong one. Another technique is to equalize brood.

This weekend, I equalized brood. My goal was twofold:

  • I wanted to make sure that all the hives will have similarly sized population of foragers for the honey flow. 
  • I wanted to use the "extra" frames of brood for my splits this coming Wednesday.

To make sure that I have adequate workforce to make the best of the honey flow, I would like to see 6 frames of brood in each hive. Since I kept equalizing the foragers in the prior weeks, all my hives had their 6 frames of brood. In fact, six of them had anywhere from 2-4 extra brood frames. Perfect for my splits.

One of the most time consuming parts in making a split is making sure I don't transfer the queen by accident. I kept my eye out for her when rearranging the brood frames and got extremely lucky - I was able to spot her in every hive. A quick shake is all it took to make sure she's in the bottom brood chamber and under the queen excluder. The extra brood frames went on top of the excluder, so all I have to do on Wednesday is to grab the top brood box, put it on its own bottom board and place the new queen.

Monday, April 18, 2016

What Is Going On In Maria's Apiary: Equalizing

Quick expansion into the second brood box already
More brood
Of course, we have to have a Queen picture
Overwintered hives are a force to consider in the Spring. They build up fast and furious. Despite a week of snow and freezing temperatures that caught them in the middle of their Spring build-up, they already have anywhere from 4-6 frames of brood in the second brood box and the bottom brood box is packed. Drones are already emerging.

As a beekeeper, my job is to pace them until our main flow arrives in mid June. Since it is early, I still equalize by switching the places of the strongest and weakest hives. In this way, the foragers from the stronger hive pad out the population of the weakest. The goal is to have all the hives as even as possible, so the manipulations can be done at the same time. Of course, a good record keeping system is a must - you don't want to propagate a hive that is lagging behind.

Next week, I will equalize the brood frames between the hives. It takes 42 days to raise a forager. The brood that is raised now is going to be collecting the honey harvest.