It appears that spring weather has just arrived in my bee yards. All of April has been cold and raining with little opportunity to open hives or better stated, what hives are left after larger than expected loses. I am not alone in the larger than expected lost hive issue. I have not talked to any local beekeeper that had less than expected loses. Most have reported well over 50% with many losing all their hives. Such is beekeeping.
I’m focused on splits for this year with honey production lower on my priority list. Three section queen castles will play a large part of this activity as I had planned to use them before the winter loses were known. I find the three frame sections to be perfect for starting a nuc. A frame of brood, a frame of nectar with some bee bread, both covered with bees and a frame of clean comb is my standard setup. Add a queen or even better a queen cell and if all goes well in 3 to 4 weeks move it into a 5 frame nuc or use some of it to boost a weaker hive. I find that having extra brood and queens available is always helpful.
I purchased a few packages for the first time in many years. My local bee club orders massive amounts every year so the cost is reasonable and they appear to be healthy. I don’t like to buy packages as my luck has never been good and I’m not sure of what issues I’m bringing into my yards. As a minimum the package queen often fails or is superseded. Evidence from a club survey last year indicated lots of failed packages. It will be interesting to see what I find.