What's going on with my bees? February / March Edition
Updated: Feb 16
Whats Going on with my bees?
Beez and I just wanted to update you on our bees as well as what you should be looking for in your own hives. For weekly updates please join our Blooming Beez Facebook Group to follow along for beek advice and BEE involved with the community. This time of year can be the most daunting for hives. If you have made it this far, that's great! Make sure you still have plenty of food stores and ventilation in the hives. Check on your candy boards and reserve honey. (TIPS to assessing your winter hive health in last months edition of "What are my bees doing - January).
Clean out bottom entrances of dead bees. Make sure your top entrances are clear of debris, wax paper, candy boards etc. You will find dead bees in the snow and some spotting on the beehive itself as well as the snow if you have it in your area. Bees are doing their "cleansing flights" from holding in their "movements" all season. On warmer days in the mid to high 40s, bees will do cleansing flights and clean out hives the best of their ability under these temps. Ideal temps for bees to fly are at about 55f and above, but they will take a quick flight to relieve themselves and get some fresh air in the mid to high 40s as well, sometimes to their detriment.
Early Spring will start to bring some pollen in for the bees and newly hatching population in the hive. Food sources begin with red maple flower, serviceberry, flowering dogwood, eastern redbud, chokecherry, native crab apples, native hawthorne's, American plum, Carolina silverbell and blackhaw viburnum. Larger flowering trees like Ohio buckeye and Yellow buckeye will also begin to bloom later in the April-May months. Come March, you may want to put your pollen feeder back out with dry pollen sub or some beekeepers will add pollen patties to the candy board in late winter early spring. We advise to only use small portions at a time of pollen patty to avoid hive beetles and also be aware that if you start feeding pollen, you must continue until natural sources are available. Feeding pollen will increase brood production and once your populations increase, we must ensure there is still abundant food sources for these bees.
There are several trains of thought on feeding pollen. Some beekeepers like to feed pollen to get their colonies rearing brood and increasing populations to be ready for foraging season of which they feel maximizes their honey crop and nectar foraging. Also larger populations can fend off pests, act as resource hives for other weaker hives in the apiary and may have a better shot the following winter. Other beekeepers feel the natural cycle of bee biology should take its course and let the bees do their thing alongside nature. A few things to consider when making ALL of your decisions about your bees are the current climate and previous season. How did the previous season or seasons affect your hives. What is their current state of health and population. Where are your bees originally from? South? North? We must take into consideration how we have kept our bees as well as their genetics and the climate around us. Sometimes (OFTEN) there is not one clear answer in beekeeping. This is where joining a bee community to understand the variety of answers becomes most helpful.