I was at one of the local schools for a soccer game on Sunday and noticed some unknown bushes with white flowers that were in bloom. Yesterday I saw Redbuds and forsythia in bloom in Eldersburg and Bradford Pears (stinky!) in Baltimore. The maples are almost done, thankfully we have had weather here which has allowed the bees to take advantage of them.
I went into the hives on Sunday and was very glad to find more brood in Demeter, much more in fact. Last time there were 2 small areas on either side of a frame which were about 3″ across, now they’ve expanded onto the middle of the frame. I was VERY excited. I still gave them a deep frame of mixed brood with adhering nurse bees from Melissa. But I think that should be all I need to do…I’ll find out this weekend!
One problem I’ve had with the hives is their reluctance to go into two deeps, they seem to expand into the medium before I can get them onto the 2nd deep. And once they’re in that medium above, there’s no convincing them otherwise…they’ll walk through that empty deep I’ve set on top of the full deep just to get to the medium. So I was pondering this problem because I have 2 deeps in the shed that are NOT on their respective hives. And I really just want the mediums for honey supers and 2 deeps for a brood chamber. When BOOM! it hit me!
I don’t own a queen excluder for various reasons. BUT if I were to use a queen excluder only to get them into two deeps, THAT would solve the issue. I’ve been debating whether to do this now or wait until the nectar flow is over and I start to feed them. As of this writing I’ve decided to wait until the flow is over, but that may change…we know how that happens. But here’s the idea: after harvest, I’ll add a second deep with frames checkerboarded between the 2 deeps, place a queen excluder above the top deep and leave the mediums above the excluder. IF there is any brood in the mediums, they will still be cared for by the nurse bees and will emerge, but the queen will not have access up there to lay any more brood, she’ll be down in the bottom deeps, busily laying eggs, hopefully. And the deeps will eventually be filled with sugar syrup and brood, ready for winter. Once the queen is happily ensconced in the 2 deeps, I would take off the excluder. The other component to this is an upper entrance. To encourage the foragers to return to the honey supers rather than the front entrance, I may experiment with an upper entrance, the only thing I don;t like about those is the hornets…if they prove to be a problem then that may not be a very good option. I need to do more thinking. Happy Spring!