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One of the most important things in beekeeping is timing. If you can predict things you can be proactive in your beekeeping and you can set goals for important events during the season such as likely swarming, the main flow, etc. How do you do this? You keep notes. Not so much on each hive as on the season. From year to year chart the blooms of trees especially but also things like dandelions and clover etc. Also events in the apiary such as swarming and the main flow. The main flow you can identify by new white wax, a steady stream of purposeful flight, and a rapid gain in weight. Also sort out blooms you identified in town and blooms you identified in the countryside. The difference, at least in my location will be two weeks earlier in the city.

If you do this from year to year you will see some things are good indicators of the start of the season (in my location the wild plums) and some are not (in my location the read maples). For instance, if the wild plums are blooming two weeks early, then I know the flow will be at least a week early. You will find things sometimes catch up as the main flow approaches. In other words, the plums might be two weeks early but the black locust might be only a week and a half early and the main flow may be only a week early. Once you can predict things with reasonable accuracy you can make better decisions.

One of your goals as a beekeeper should be to have the population of the colony to peak right at the main flow. If you want to do a cut down split to maximize honey production while getting more bees--that would be two weeks before the main flow. If you can predict things you can make better decisions on splits. For instance if your colony seems to be peaking (you'll get a feel for about the maximum size before they decide to swarm in the pre flow period) several weeks before the main flow there may not be any point in trying to prevent it from swarming before the main flow and you might just split. But if the main flow is only a week away, maybe you can stall them that long by opening the brood nest. Knowing when to expect the flow can help you make better decisions. Decisions like when to plan on putting on supers or do swarm control etc.

So I’m saying you should pay attention to timing. You should keep notes in order to make better timing decisions.

Michael Bush

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