Thursday, January 20, 2011

LESSON 93: Rotating Hive Bodies In Spring ( 217-427-2678

DavidMBHello, we are David & Sheri Burns, beekeepers operating Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. Feel free to contact us at: 217-427-2678. We’re having the time of our life enjoying helping others get started in beekeeping.
In today’s Lesson, I will be explaining the importance of rotating hive bodies in early spring. Before we start today’s lesson, let me invite you to two our our upcoming classes.

It's important for beekeepers to be well prepared to properly manage hives that have survived the winter. In our last lesson we looked into a more detailed look at the Demaree swarm prevention method. Use this acronym to help you remember how to prepare:

Stimulate For Rapid Foraging Force
Prevent Swarms
Rotate Hive Bodies Inspect The Productivity Of The Queen
New Queen
Give 1:1 Sugar Water & Pollen Patties

Winter Cluster DrawingIt is important for the second year beekeeper to understand how the bees gradually move upward in the hive during the winter. During the winter the cluster gradually moves upward into the top hive body eating its way into stored honey above the cluster.

Pollen PattyNormally the colony is found in the upper deep hive body during the start of spring, leaving the bottom deep hive body empty of bees and honey. The colony will expand in the upper hive body but will quickly become congested and will not likely move down.

The congestion can cause the colony to swarm. Therefore, by reversing the hive bodies the main nesting area is placed on the bottom, giving the colony room to expand into the upper hive body thus elevating congestion and helping to prevent swarming.
This is referred to by beekeepers as rotating the hive bodies or also as reversing the hive bodies. Many beekeepers become too eager to reverse the hive bodies and make a mistake so huge that it devastates the hive, and the colony usually never fully recovers. So let me give some practical advice on rotating the hive bodies.
First, DO NOT ROTATE TOO EARLY. Many beekeepers rotate the boxes too early in the season when the nights are still below freezing.

While a large hive may not be too effected, a smaller hive can suffer from being moved to the bottom. Why? When they were in the top of the hive, they enjoyed living in the pocket of heat that became trapped in the upper part of the hive. This provided assistance in heating the newly reared brood. If the hive bodies are rotated and the temperature drops drastically from a surprise spring cold snap, the colony is now on the
bottom and may have difficulty keeping the brood warm. In Illinois I make it a firm practice never to make splits or rotate hive bodies until after May 1. I simply want warmer nights.

Secondly, many beekeepers make the mistake of not fully inspecting and locating the nesting area. Before reversing the hive bodies it is essential that the hive be inspected. If any of the capped or uncapped brood dips down into the lower hive body, DO NOT REVERSE. If the brood/nesting area was in the upper half of the lower deep, and into the lower half of the upped deep then rotating will damage and break up the brood area and the hive will likely not recover throughout the summer.
So before rotating, make sure there is no brood in the lower hive body. It must be empty of brood, capped or uncapped. If there are some bees in the lower hive, but no brood, it is okay to rotate.

Rotating Hive Bodies & Cleaning Out Bees That Died In Winter
Let me summarize rotating hive bodies:
* Be sure the nights are warm enough not to chill the brood.
* Check and make certain all capped and uncapped brood is found in the upper hive body.
* To rotate, simply reverse the locations of the hive bodies. Place the bottom one on top and the tope one on the bottom. our next article Inspecting The Productivity Of The Queen

Thanks for joining us today and here is our contact information:

Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
14556 N. 1020. E. Rd
Fairmount, IL 61841
(217) 427-2678