Beekeeping is 60% knowledge, 30% weather and 10% trial and error.
What do I mean by that?
I teach second year beekeeping students to do the following:
•OA vapor treatment by March 1st •Split their beehives by mid to late April •Give their bees MAQ strips by May 1st
This year I decided to skip the OA treatment and only use the MAQ strips in May. Mostly because the number of bees was very high mid-February when I popped the lids to check emergency feed.
I was very impressed with what I saw! But also, because I was so busy with other stuff I just didn’t schedule myself enough time.
I saw people posting brood pictures last week on Facebook, (week of March 14th) so I decided it was time to remove my quilt boxes and do a thorough inspection.
My inspections on March 20th were crazy! I have never seen so much capped brood the 3rd week of March. I was actually looking for swarm cells because there was so much capped brood.
I made the decision to go ahead and treat with MAQ strips now. The ideal temperature for MAQ is between 50 – 85 degrees. It may fall below 50 outside, but the hive will maintain a high enough temperature for the strips to work efficiently. After all, they are keeping their brood warm enough to hatch successfully.
In 7 days – March 27th, I will remove the MAQ strips. And my mite treatment will be done until after the honey flow is over.
After the flow, I will use apivar or apiguard. I alternate every other year with those, so they don’t lose their effectiveness.
Finally, I will use OA vapor in the fall. Setting up my hive to have healthy winter babies for the cluster.
My point of this blog is, while I teach beekeeping one way, sometimes I don’t always follow those methods. Weather and time play a big role in the decisions I make.
I also use my gut a lot of the time. I try things and sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. That’s where the trial and error come in.
I know people want a checklist of the same duties every year, on the same dates every year. That simply does not exist in beekeeping.
In closing, keep learning, keep trying new things and remember to go with the flow…pun intended. 😉