It is amazing the difference three weeks makes in a bee hive. Colonies that in late February looked “pretty good” today are booming along. In fact, I added boxes to several of the nucs that were filling all available space on the combs with brood. There were a couple colonies still struggling to get the critical mass necessary for brood rearing to take off. Those colonies got frames of bees and mostly capped brood from the boomers.
Sharing brood frames from really strong colonies with weaker ones works to my advantage in two ways: first, the struggling colonies now have a good chance of catching up in time to make a good honey crop. Second, the donor colonies definitely would have swarmed early if I had not reduced their brood nests and increased the amount of available storage space.
I won’t borrow any more brood from the same colonies until they have 60 thousand or so workers ready to make this year’s honey crop. Until then I’ll just make sure they have enough space to keep expanding their brood nests.
I saw evidence today that there is nectar flowing. Outside the hive I can observe the maple bloom and other flowers beginning to emerge. Inside the hives, I saw small patches of snow-white comb being built – a sure sign the bees are bringing home more nectar than they are eating. The bees only draw comb when there is plenty of nectar coming through the door.
I don’t worry about trying to make a honey crop on the March nectar flow. Instead, the bees use this early flow to build up their populations. Now, even the biggest colonies have only a few thousand bees in them. By early April, they will have tens of thousands of bees all ready to make the honey crop.
When I see the dandelion bloom I will run to add honey supers to the colonies.