Despite some recent days of fog, when it clears its been beautiful. I fed a light sugar queen stimulation feed last week and this week and will give another half litre next week but really its not been totally necessary.
Many of my hives were well stocked, so the emphasis was more on convincing the queen that there a always sugar availible ( more of a flow) than anything else. Feeding generously now, wouldnt do any favours other than inducing earlier swarming, which is whats going to happen anyway this year, if were not careful.
The queens must have space to lay in to, especially if your putting on your first honey supers in another 4 weeks. If you use queen barriers in the spring, take out some of the old honey bound frames and generally make sure the queen has room to lay. If you remove a frame of honey, if you can, replace it with a ready drawn up comb and keep the honey bound frame for artificial swarming.
When the oil seed rape starts to flower in another two weeks, it going to become very cramped in a very short space of time. This year, if it stays warm could be an excellent honey crop. Correct supering is also a must.
I would advise putting on two supers, on any strong colony, they may even make 3 full this spring.
I also like to put on my new supers filled with pain undrawn up wax sheets and capitalize on the crazy rush of the bees in springtime. After all it is only spring honey. Presenting your bees with drawn up supers for the summer honey crop is a more sensible option!
We already have populations rising rapidly, plenty of early goat willow and camelia, to name but a few and the oil seed rape looks like being 2 weeks early. 4 weeks earler than last year, so be prepared.
I choose to artificial swarm my strongest hives (early april this year i think) and use the slightly weaker ones for spring honey.
I will also be trying a different method of swam control and instead of artificial swarming, i intend to take out some bees and perhaps one frame of brood, then combine this with the same amount of bees from another hive, then give it a queen cell and create some colonies like that. Just a different way of thinking, not hitting the colony so hard and leave the hive nearly emptyof forragers, until the remaining brood start to hatch out and start to forrage for the existing queen again.
Dont stop searching for info, you never stop learning.
I have been doing a fair bit of reading this winter and feel more confident to try and think more laterally with my methods, underpinning knowledge is key!
Number one is to work with the bees, do what you want to do with them, when they want to natrually do the same.
Just bought this book and would reccommend that every beekeeper should read it. Perhaps not if you a new beekeeper, but certainly if your in your third year. It broadens your horizons on many aspects and gives you more ideas on how to be more sustainable in your methods. Really enoying the idealogy.
Hers a link to a really interesting talk at the bee show! would like to spend some time working at this guys apirarys!!
Theres so much promise this year, not for huge profits but interesting and enjoyable beekeeping!