Update 4/8/19

We’ve been inspecting all of our colonies and things are going great in preparation for our Spring splits. This week we inspected all of our colonies and found capped drone brood in most of them. Once the drones are flying the colonies will be ready to split.

This past fall we left all of the colonies with a full deep of honey upstairs, and we extracted the remainder of the honey. We use frames with foundation so that they are easy to extract without blowouts. Our one overarching rule to keeping bees is that we act in the best interests of the bees first and foremost. Our colonies were both honey-bound last spring, so we gave them the drawn frames back from the extraction to clean up in fall, after the first freeze, then removed them on a warm day, keeping the colonies in 2 deep boxes, with solid honey upstairs.

This week we opened up the top boxes of the colonies and gave drawn frames to the colonies that were honey-bound to give the bees more space to store nectar and pollen as the nectar flow gets started. Bees will happily fill all of the space that they can with nectar in Spring, and if they still have lots of honey they will begin to backfill the broodnest, and the colony will swarm. Empty frames aren’t enough to prevent swarming – the bees need drawn comb to use in the early Spring.

Next week we will inspect the colonies again after the storm has passed and the weather is warm again. We are keeping a close eye out for queen cups or cells and drones. When we split the colonies the bees in the splits will make new queens, and those queens will mate with local drones. Once we ensure that the queens are mated and laying, the bees will be ready to go to their new apiaries.

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