This blog explains how I keep bees. It works for me, it might not work for you. Use my methods at your own risk. Always wear protective clothing and use a smoker when working bees.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A request from Rhode Island

I had a request from Clare in Rhode Island to clarify my position and answer her questions.
 Everything I talk about on this blog is what is happening in Minnesota. Our nectar flows can be very intense. With a colony filling and capping a honey super in a week when the nectar flow is  intense. This same bee activity is happening basically all around the upper midwest.
 We start our new colonies with 10 frames. When the colonies are done drawing foundation, one frame is removed and 9 frames are used in the brood box. There would be no advantage to running anything less than nine frames in the brood box because we need 9 frames for winter stores of honey and pollen. Once you go to eight frames it is easier to have winter mortality because of insufficient winter stores.
 Many beekeepers use three deeps around here. The three deeps increase the amount of stores of pollen and honey in a colony and can help keep the swarming impulse down.
 We do several reversals on strong over wintered colonies in a the time before the main nectar flow. This helps spread the pollen and honey around the hive.             
 Before the main nectar flow starts, reversals stop. When the flow starts we want the bees to fill the top deep with honey for winter stores. In MN we need the top deep full and the box below should have four frames of honey for colony winter survival.
 Once the nectar flow is started, a queen excluder and two honey supers are added. Supers are always added two at a time. Supers with foundation are always put directly above the brood nest. Drawn comb supers can be stacked on top as needed.
 Some beekeepers don't like excluders, some use then all the time. Usually when a beekeepers uses an excluder and they get no honey, they blame the excluder. The reason they did not get honey is usually their bees have swarmed and they don't know it or the nectar flow was poor.
  If a beekeeper does not want to use an excluder. They need to wait until the top brood box is filling with honey, Once the box has some honey in most of the frames the thought is, the queen does not like to cross the frames of honey and will stay down in the lower brood box.
 I use queen excluders on my 35 colonies and they work for me.  I know a few large commercial beekeepers (7000 hives) that use them. I always figure when it is your day job you usually know what you are doing. The commercial beekeepers have a lot on the line and have to make proper decisions to stay in business.