The past few warm days I have been out cleaning the bottom boards on my surviving hives. Saw the usual dead bees and sugar particles from my winter emergency sugar cube feed. It appears that all surviving hives are now raising brood and I think they will continue to survive. The final count for my apiary was 79% survival over the winter. In the last week I lost another hive by robbing by a neighboring strong hive. This work also got me thinking about several hive management techniques.
REVERSING OF BROOD CHAMBERS
While destacking the hives to clean the bottom boards I noted that the bees in the stronger hives were utilizing both the upper and lower brood chambers. In a few of the weaker hives I deliberately searched for the queen. In several I noted the queen had voluntarily moved down to the lower brood chamber. It seems that the task of reversing the brood chambers in the spring may not be the mandatory task that has been recommended in many “how to” books. Comments from club members and blog readers would be appreciated.
TWO VERSUS THREE BROOD CHAMBERS
I have seen recommendations that three brood chambers are superior to two brood chambers. This of course requires additional equipment. This recommendation was made for two reasons. One, in northern climates the third brood chamber provides the bees with additional honey for overwintering. This is the recommendation of the University of Minnesota Extension Service. The third chamber reduces or eliminates the need for fall feeding with sugar syrup. Wisconsin’s winters are very close in severity to Minnesota’s. Two, the third brood chamber results in a higher overall hive population, which then yield more honey per hive. With the high number of winter starvation hive failures a third brood chamber has some merit. Comments from club members and blog readers would be appreciated.