April showers bring May flowers....
But what happens in March? Snow, rain, cold days, warm days, melting, and more hours of sun ☀️
For our outdoor wintered Honey Bees they are starting to move around more, go on their cleansing flights, and are beginning to think about building and growing their colony.
At this time of year, as a beekeeper, it is important to think about your hives and if they have enough food.
Statistically, Feb/March are the months a hive will starve to death because of either the extreme cold, a small colony unable to warm enough feed to provide, or a complete lack of access to food.
Many beekeepers will supplement their hives with sugar patties around this time.
On a warmer, not windy day, they will open up their hives, do a quick check for size and strength, then slide in a sugar patty.
Another thing you should be thinking about as you are checking the survival rate of your hives is your plan for the upcoming season.
Are you going to expand? Replace any lost hives? What will you change about your plan from last season? Will you move your hives to different locations? Treating mites and diseases?
Now is the time to prepare! Get the supplies and treatments you need in order, order any bees (nucs, packages, or queens) you think you may need. Create your plan!
Keep in mind, many people wait till the last minute to order and are in “desperate need” when they do. Often supplies are beginning to sell out by April / May or you are at the bottom of the list and will get your bees later in the season.
So create your plan, be prepared, and don’t delay, order now!
If you are thinking about expanding your apiary or replace any lost hives, consider the following options
1. Buying a nuc (mini hive with a laying queen) This benefits you because the hive and queen is already established and the queen is laying. You can get early nucs with 2018 queens and late spring nucs with 2019 queens. You can get multiple sizes of nucs with more or less bees and brood.
2. Doing a split of one of your own hives (next article coming) This is a cheaper option if you have the bees and strong colonies to support it. You can either have your bees make their own queen or you can buy a mated queen. Queens can be shipped to you or you can pick them up. (I’ll update pros and cons with my next post)
3. Buying a package of bees This is a bundle of bees, often shipped across the country with an imported queen. A package has its own challenges but are more readily available to some.
4. Catching a swarm This is a random occurrence and hard to plan on, but something people plan for. A swarm can have unknown genetics and unpredictable behavior but it’s FREE! (More info to come)
That’s it for now. Get out there and feed your bees! Don’t forget plan, prepare, and pre-order!!
Message me or comment if you have any question or concerns and happy beekeeping 🐝