All great artists do a self portrait, here is mine contemplating how to place my future hives.
Up until the past week it has been a wet and mild winter in East Central Florida. That all change mid week when we had a few nights in the low 40’s, and a “possible freeze” warning was issued by local meteorologists. Any one from up north digging out of the snow is probably feeling real sorry for me right now, right? Those two days mid week have been the only days I’ve walked up to the hive and there were no signs of bees to be found.
Since I don’t have any previous years of beekeeping experience, I’m not sure if what I’m seeing is normal winter behavior for my area. Right now the data in pollen.com is showing a spike in pollen for my area. The predominant pollen: Cedar/Juniper, Elm and Maple, are providing a steady flow of pollen into the hive.
Second, there are far less bees visible. The landing board is not congested with bees during the day, but on a nice mild afternoon it still may get crowded
Aside from these two things it seems like business as usual for a smaller amount of slower bees. Even the ants are slacking. A bee carcass in summer usually doesn’t last more that a few hours before the ants are hauling it away. Now it lies below the hive for days
It has been over a month since I last opened the hive and I’m hoping next week the weather will be in the 70’s with clear skies. The temperature is warm enough to open the hive right now, but the skies are overcast with on again off again rain showers. I’m curious to see how much of the honey stores have been used so far. I’m optimistic they don’t need an emergency feeding; I just want to satisfy my curiosity of how things are progressing up to this point.
My Spring Management kick start date is fast approaching. A mid to late February feeding should prematurely stimulate the hive, and allow me to create a NUC (nucleus hive, consisting of five frames) by late March. If all goes well and I’m able to follow the plan by Mr. Jamie Ellis, PhD (Assistant Professor of Entomology Department of Entomology and Nematology University of Florida), I should have a strong hive and a strong NUC by my spring flow in April.
I should have started by building a couple of NUC bodies, but instead I wanted to start building my Top Bar Hive. I’m still undecided on how to proceed with my planned NUC, and my two 3lb packages of bees + queen arriving early May.
My dilemma is that I can’t make up my mind about what order to populate/create a hive, a NUC, and a TBH. I’ve got a few ideas but they change by the day, so right now I’ll just play it by ear and wait and see.
I decided to keep a very accurate record of the hive(s) since I want more than one. It includes the frame types and the age, queen age, and hive productivity.