|A honey bee by Eco Bee Box
Thoughts to consider…when raising bees. Note we didn’t say when making honey. Honey is the by-product of a healthy active colony. A question we regularly hear is “my bees aren’t drawing out new comb”, “they are not expanding”, “they must not like their hive”, “they are doing nothing”, “it has been a month and I just raised a queen and they haven’t expanded”, “when do I add another box”. The questions are similar and require in most cases a simple answer of be patient.
|Honeycomb on a mini frame by Eco Bee Box
The first thing to consider, bees live in almost anything. Removals have extracted bees out of trees, walls, roofs, floors, bbq’s, sofas, propane tanks, car fenders, bushes, upside-down containers, and the list continues. Understand bees have an incredible sense of smell and a beekeeper can inadvertently place a colony in a hive or location that is adverse to their sense of smell.
The second thing to consider is beekeeping is regional. A beekeeper in Maine, verses a beekeeper in Arizona, verses a beekeeper in Georgia, verses a beekeeper in Saskatchewan are all going to have to adapt to their environment and conditions that are present. Rain slows bees. Cold slows bees. Too much heat slows bees. Limited available forage slows bees. Robbing slows bees. When all the settings are right…bees produce and can grow fast.
|2lbs of comb honey by Eco Bee Box
Third, expansion happens when the bees need it. It isn’t a date on the wall, or a number of days, or a magical mathematical equation. If a logarithm would be made for bees it would include – bee health, colony size related to size of space, available forage (nectar, pollen, water, propolis ingredients), window of acceptable heat, bees can’t fly in rain so this stops growth, queen issues, robbing factors, disease threats, time for cycles to occur, bee density in your area compared to resources, neighbors with a jihad for bees and flying things, local predators, and probably still others.
As a beekeeper, you are at the mercy of your area and need to understand it’s limitations or concerns. One answer is not applicable for all areas, times of the season or even all hive styles. Some items can be induced such as wax production but other issues have to be in line as well. Feeding them but it is cold and rainy is a challenge as they are clustering to keep temps up around their brood. If your colony appears active but is not growing, is it too hot? They may be spending all their time collecting water to stay cool. How far away is their water source? Brood can’t get cold and can’t get hot…either way the pendulum swings affect the bees.
Cycles are occurring in your hive and some of them just take time. If you are requeening then the expansion will be limited. Time has to pass and cycles have to occur.
|Eco Bee Box bee carved in stone
Watch and learn what is happening to your colony. Try to understand what their needs are. Bees are speaking to you but many times we don’t understand what they are saying.