Questions with Mike Palmer

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Mike Palmer Answers Your Questions

Mike Palmer keeps bees at French Hill Apiaries in St. Albans. We are grateful that he has agreed to answer questions on beekeeping in Vermont, his workload permitting.

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On Nectar Flows

Jean Andersson-Swayze writes:

Two weeks ago I put a second medium honey super with frames of just foundation only on top of one that was about 80% full of capped honey. I pulled two frames of the honey and put them in the new super and moved two of the new frames into the open spots in the 'full' super. Two weeks later the bees seems like they are completely ignoring the new undrawn frames including the ones embedded in the super that's got capped honey in it. Everything else in the hive seems to be in order. Did I place the new super too soon, in the wrong position (on top) or am I just being impatient? Do you have any tips on how to get the bees to come up into the new super?

Many thanks,

Jean Andersson-Swayze
Charlotte

Over the last few weeks, we installed some 300 comb honey supers on to the hives. After a really nice spring nectar flow, most supers added in April were heavy, and the bees needed more room for nectar storage. I like to add foundation directly above the broodnest, and below the full supers, so we remove the full medium supers of spring honey, add a box of foundation, and replace the supers. I checked the progress the bees were making, after the foundation had been on for a couple weeks and found nothing drawn out. We checked for queen cells as swarming will mean no comb honey. No swarming and nothing done on the foundation.

For the bees to draw foundation you need two things: colonies full of bees, and a good nectar flow. With either missing, no foundation will be drawn out. While my bees are very strong at this point, the spring flow ended with the passing of the blackberry flow. No nectar, no new comb.

A note of encouragement. The main honey flow started on Thursday, the 14th of June, and the bees have started drawing out their comb honey foundation.

- Mike