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Chicken Scratch Poultry

Friday, February 5, 2016

Bee Hive Spring Preparation

Here at Chicken Scratch Poultry we're fairly new to the world of bees and all they have to offer.  I will never claim to know what I'm doing when it comes to bees because I'm learning as I go along.  I welcome any and all information for you more experienced bee keepers at anytime.
We are quickly coming up on our third spring with our hives.  If you have been fallowing along on the blog you might remember last spring I had two hives and they both swarmed, I was able to catch both swarms and now have four hives.  My goal this spring is to keep my four hives from swarming.  In preparation for that we are opening our boxes early to take a look around and make sure the bees have plenty of room for expansion.  I recently talked with a very knowledgeable bee keeper
named Mary Celley, she has a business called the Bee Charmer, she gave me some very good advice on keeping the bees from swarming.  What we're doing today in all reality probably needed to be done last fall.  
We are experiencing a warmer than usual February in our area.  Last week we had temps in the 60's and knew that it was a good time to open the boxes and take a look around.  It needs to be at least 40 degrees to open your boxes.
What we immediately seen in our bottom brood box is that the bees had about four empty frames that they have never used.  There was no comb on any of those four frames.  So we took those empty frames and moved those up into the next super and moved some full honey frames down. We staggered the brood frames with honey
frames and just mixed them up a bit.
All four hives looked the same in the brood box with about three to four frames never being touched.  In the box to your left we moved the untouched frames to the middle and brood frames to the outside.
Since we've had such a mild winter the bees have used very little of their food storage but we still have  February to make it through also.  They look in good shape.

The next really important move that we made was to take the bottom brood box off of the stand, put the full honey super box on the stand as the bottom box and stacked the bottom brood box on top.  So we swapped the boxes around.  Hope that makes since.  It's important to never keep a full box of honey on top of your bees.  It tells them they are out of space.  This has finally made since to me this year and I'll try to explain what I'm talking about.  This has been very confusing to me all along and I think I've finally got it!

I was always of the assumption that once the bees filled a box with honey you would just stack another box on top of that and they would move on up, past the full box into the empty one and fill it up.  WRONG!  Once the box is full of honey the bees say we are out of space lets move and so they swarm.
So, once the bees have a box full of honey capped, take that box, put another empty box on, if you aren't ready to process that honey you can stack it on top of the empty box.  It's a good idea to go ahead and take off the full box, you can even freeze it at that time if your not ready to work it.
Thank you Mary for your good advise, I sure wish I would have known this last fall so I could have made the box swap at that time.  Hopefully I've done them some good.  There is a good chance that since they had the full box of honey on top of them last fall and all winter, they might have all ready made the decision to swarm and nothing at this point can change their little minds.
Well That's the Buzzzz on Bees.
Hope this is helpful!

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