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2nd Year Beekeeping

Welcome to the NEW 2nd Year Beekeeping Blog. For those who have sucessfully kept a hive going through the winter we will be here to help you keep your hive thriving through it's second year.

Go ahead and celebrate because your hive(s) have made it through winter. Enjoy your time because this year is going to be a lot different than your first. Constructing your hive last year would have started you off with one brood chamber for your package or NUC. Your hive this year already consists of 2 to 3 boxes. As your hive continues to grow in population you will be physically limited to the height it could potentially reach. You do not want your hive to outgrow what you can handle; therefore, what methods can be used to sustain the increase in colony population?

Creating a split will expand your apiary and alleviate the overwhelming population in the current hive. This can be accomplished by transferring 2 to 3 frames of brood along with a few frames of honey into a new hive. Freshly lain eggs, queen cells, or swarm cells on a frame transferred into the new hive will allow the colony to raise out their own queen but the better option is to already have purchased a mated queen ready for installation. Only consider this option if your hive can sustain the loss of brood.

A colony will move through the hive, throughout winter, to consume their food stores. Spring temperatures allow the bees to break cluster and the queen to begin laying. This would place the brood chamber in the second or third story leaving the hive body empty. Reverse your brood chamber to have your queen positioned at the bottom of the hive and give them the additional hive body to expand into.

Having a good productive queen is an excellent feat for the hive but if she is given the space to lay she can easily turn honey supers into brood chambers. Using a Queen Excluder to confine the queen to a two story chamber will eliminate eggs in the honey super as well as impede the growth of the colony.

One cause for concern with a rapidly growing colony is swarming. The lack of space for the colony to continue to develop will trigger them to begin swarm preparations. Beekeepers try to avoid this because there is no guarantee that the virgin queen left behind will be healthy and fertile. Controlling the population of the hive will keep control their warming tendencies. Give them the space they need to grow but consider the limitation of what you are able to handle.