Each year as spring approaches I reflect on my strategies of how best to run my beekeeping business. I look at what went well the previous year as well as what improvements that could be made. Below is a list of my 2014 goals.
Before setting new goals for this upcoming season I first like to review how last year’s goals went and if I will repeat any strategies that I tried out last year for the first time.
New strategies tried in 2013 and results:
For many years I have used wood frames with Permadent foundation. I have been very pleased with this configuration and how well the bees draw it out. Last year I installed four hundred standard plastic frames I purchased from Mann Lake. I determined if the plastic frames worked as well as the wood frames, they would save me a lot of time. My initial observation is that the bees didn’t seem to draw it out as quickly as the frames with Permadent foundation. I will hold off using anymore plastic frames for now.
Last year was the first time I added Pro Health (equivalent to Honey-B-Healthy) to my sugar syrup. There were several advantages that I noticed. First, the bees ate their feed much quicker. Second, I didn’t have any syrup spoil. The bees overall looked much healthier in the fall. The only down side to using this product was it did increase robbing in the fall. I feel the advantages outweigh the problem with robbing and I will continue to use Pro Health.
Another switch I made was to use a high protein pollen substitute. I switched from Bee-Pro to Ultra-Bee. Both of these products I purchased from Mann Lake. I haven’t yet observed any major differences in the products. My hives seemed to do well with both products.
Lastly, I pulled off my honey supers and applied mite treatments earlier in the season than normal. In past years I would do this in September and last year I accomplished this in August. I feel this made the biggest difference. I had very little problems with mites and less than one percent showed signs of disease.
One of the greatest challenges I have faced in recent years is an increase in queen failure. My first goal for 2014 is to monitor my hives for queen problems more closely. With the splits and re-queening I will be doing this spring I hope to have at least half of my hives with new queens.
My second goal will be to monitor for mite levels more regularly. In the past I have done a mite check in the spring and again at the end of the summer. I randomly check drone brood for mites during the summer months, but not consistently. I am currently putting together a powder sugar mite test kit that I will keep in the truck to use all throughout the summer.
My third goal involves trying out new bee locations. I spread my hives out into locations in three different valleys. By the end of June I determine which bee yards aren’t doing well and move some of them to other valleys that have a better nectar flow. By having extra locations I increase my flexibility for moving hives around.