It’s tempting to jump the gun

With the extremely warm record setting weather we had a few weeks ago, it was tempting to jump the gun on a lot of things having to do with the outdoors. Two areas that come to mind are gardening and beekeeping. While many seeds like peas and radishes can be planted as soon as you can dig the ground, it was sure tempting to put some tomato plants in the ground.

I got a few emails from people saying they heard we should be reversing boxes on our bee hives because they were going to swarm. I wasn’t even temped to reverse my hives because I didn’t think the cold weather was actually over. With the bees being up top in most hives, they were in the warmest area, which is good when the queen is starting to ramp up a little and there is brood to rear. The bees were bringing in pollen which was also a good sign.

One problem with jumping the gun with your hives is that if there is brood in both boxes, it’s probably in the upper end of the bottom box. By reversing them too soon, you are creating a sizeable gap and with the population not high coming out of winter, there aren’t enough bees to properly cover both sections of brood.  If I have brood in both boxes, I let them be. If I do reverse my hives, I wait until dandelions are out in earnest.

The other problem I see is that you are putting the majority of the brood on the bottom where it’s still too cool. Of course, these are conditions where I live in western Massachusetts, so your climate may vary. We are still getting some nights with temperatures in the high twenties and low thirties. Patience is key at this time of year.


About Beekeeping in the Berkshires

Here at Berkshire Farms Apiary we've been keeping bees and making honey since 2005, with hives in most of the surrounding towns. We also make pure beeswax candles, lip balm, and hand salve, as well as give presentations. As secretary of the Northern Berkshire Beekeepers Association, I am very active in the local beekeeping community.
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2 Responses to It’s tempting to jump the gun

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