December’s Brood Break and Resource Dearth

December’s Brood Break and Resource Dearth

If you’re feeling depressed at how your bees look right now, fret not, as sad as some of your colonies may look, and as many dead colonies that may show up during December’s brood break and resource dearth, your colony count will bounce back. Your intervention as a beekeeper will increase the odds of survival and recovery.

In December varroa mite levels rapidly increase as varroa mites peak again right after the Central Florida Autumn nectar flow. Couple high mite loads with the lack of rainfall and few forage options available to the bees and you have a recipe for declining colonies and complete dead-outs. So what do we do as beekeepers to intervene?

The secret to successfully navigating the cooler season resource dearth has a lot to do with timing. In Autumn, the brood build up during the nectar flow will greatly increase the mite count later in the year as foundress mites target newly developing larvae in the colony. Once the new brood begins to emerge from their cells, out will come an exponential growing population of new mites and the diseases they vector. These new bees will be among the few that emerge until mid January, and if they’re under attack from a heavy mite infestation their colony will likely collapse during the typical December brood break.

To time the intervention correctly Central Florida beekeepers should harvest the autumn nectar flow’s honey no later than just before Thanksgiving. Verify the mite load and treat immediately after harvesting the honey from each colony. Here at Pinesmoke Bee Company, after the harvest, we dose our colonies with the probiotic Super DFM +P801. This probiotic will help the bees deal with the stress caused by the coming mite treatment. We then follow the probiotic with the Thymol treatment Apiguard to do the trick on the mites.

However, treating for mites at this time of year is not the only activity that must be done. Feeding your bees may be necessary as well. Check the weight of your colonies, if the bees have consumed the remainder of the honey left behind after harvesting honey and are now light, feed sugar syrup. When feeding syrup you can add into your recipe the probiotic Super DFM Extend. Extend will help your bees maintain their health and nutrition during the coming lack of natural forage. During your inspections, if you notice a lack of stored pollen you will need to feed a pollen substitute. When feeding pollen substitutes, choose a product with a high protein content, we use Ultra Bee Patties, though you could choose to use the Ultra Bee dry powder and mix up your own patties. Apply the pollen substitute above the brood cluster and if there are two brood boxes sandwich the patty between the two boxes within that brood cluster.

If your intervention was timed correctly, your bees will survive the brood break and resource dearth and you will see a very quick increase in bee population once the Red Maple and Willow begin to bloom in January. Here’s lookin’ at you Red Maple.

2014-10-30 11 09 40 Red Maple during autumn on Lower Ferry Road in Ewing, New Jersey