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More Snow!!!

Wow. I spend a good part of the year looking forward to March and April. It’s Beekeeping Nirvana! Not this year, however. March has been a monster. Really cold weather (and often SNOW!) has always been in the forecast. My bees are behind, which is good, because I am behind (I’m always behind, but this year it feels like I am behind a whole month!)

Tomorrow, I had scheduled a Sustainable Beekeeping 201 class, the first in the series of sustainable beekeeping classes for more experienced beekeepers. One of the primary tasks was to create a few Nuc’s in one of my outyards. Since the weather today and tomorrow is supposed to be the same, I planned to use the temperatures today to judge whether we could hold the class (although, when I scheduled this in late February, I thought my main problem would be to find an apiary that still had hives that I had NOT pulled Nuc’s from – right now, that’s pretty much my entire fleet of hives!)  At 11 am, when we would be well into building Nuc’s, it was still in the very low 40’s. Although it could be done at this temperature, I simply didn’t want to risk it. So, we postponed to the ‘bad weather date’ (which is next Saturday – this doesn’t look very promising either, but we’ll see.)

By about 2:30 PM, the temps his 50 and I journeyed out to the Westover Plantation outyard. I had not been through this outyard since February 2 (and that was just a quick inspection – pull the inner cover and a frame or two from the upper supers.)

The best news, of course, is that all of the hives were doing fine. In fact, two of them were really pouring it on. Being close to the river, I have found that these hives typically are ahead of most of my other hives (excluding overwintered Nucs). I could have easily created Medium Nuc’s from two of these hives, but instead created a single Deep Nuc off of each of them. It’s supposed to be wet (maybe with snow) and cold over the next couple of days, so I gave them both an extra shake of honey bees. Medium Nuc’s are tough enough (for me, anyway), so I hope to return in a couple of weeks and get a few Mediums off of this crowd.

Of note, I have still not seen anything to indicate that hives are in swarm mode right now. I will probably regret those words, but I currently believe that there are 2 to 3 weeks before I have to really worry about a hive swarming. Ideally, I will have reduced all of my hives by then (by spawning Nuc’s.)

I want to close on a totally different topic – reversal. That’s the practice of going into your hives in March and moving empty supers (from below) to above. You follow this up, every few weeks, with another reversal. The followers of this practice say that the bees go into swarm mode when they get to the top (as if they don’t have enough sense to realize they have plenty of space below.) I had a large number of hives with empty supers on the bottom this year. I did not reverse one. So far, every single one has done what I expected them to do – built down into the empty super. I honestly do not believe that reversal helps one bit (and probably simply stresses the bees more than anything else.)

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