Bee Smart FAQs-Hive Management

Hive Management

Beekeepers have been known to use re-queening as an effective method to reduce swarming. It is also considered to help increase the chances of Winter survival. Re-queening has been thought to be effective in dealing with certain brood diseases (sacbrood, European Foul Brood, chalkbrood). Some beekeepers re-queen to gain larger forager populations for increased honey yields. Re-queening is also a known method of changing the colony temperament if the bees become too ornery.
According to Clarence Collison, Entomology professor, Extension Program Director, Beekeeper and Author of the "A Closer Look" column in Bee Culture Magazine, honey production is most dependent on colony strength, floral sources and local weather over hive management techniques.
There are about 7 definitions of what "Organic" is. The one beekeeping is concerned with the most is the scientific or biological definition. That being, to emulate, mimic or imitate the natural behavior or physiology of another living creature as a learned response or method. For beekeepers, the objective is to emulate or imitate the successful behaviors and conditions by feral bees.
When it comes to feeding bees, people have asked if and what they should feed to bees in the Spring. My answer is, it depends on both counts. On "If" to feed, the question comes down to, for me, what are the available resources at hand for bees to forage on immediately and what are the circumstances of the bees as you hived them. For example, did the bees come from packages with nearly nothing left in the sugar syrup can? Are they a "dry" swarm that was captured? If they come from a situation like either of those then the bees need to have access to nectar and/or honey immediately in order to build their nest. If the bees came from hives, nucs or "wet" swarms well fed with stores to hold them for a few days, then they should have what they need to start up right away and not require feeding. As to If the weather at the time of hiving the bees doesn't allow for foraging or nectar/pollen production then again, depending on acces to stores, the bees may likely need to be fed. As to what to feed, if they need to be fed? Sugar syrup is usually the beekeepeer's solution. a 1:1 ratio, (I prefer 1 lb of water to 1 lb of sugar) is a close enough approximation to nectar to get them through till good foraging is available. If you haven't had the time or unsure how to make or just don't want to make sugar syrup, you can use the premade Hummingbird feed syrup that can be purchased at pet stores and home improvement centers all around. Be sure to use the clear soution though.