Dreaming of Spring? I know I am! See Article Below on Preparing for Spring
Our goal at Two Bees Apiary is to help beekeepers with resources and information. We know that being keepers of bees, questions come up about our little hive buddies and the things that go along with them. If you have suggestions for Beekeepers Resources, please let us know. Contact us here.
I believe Spring 2018 beekeeping season is right around the corner. Even though we are still having rainy weather, you may wonder do I really need to start thinking and preparing for spring now? The beekeepers answer is yes.
In the last few weeks we have had a couple of nicer days and I have seen the bees come out for cleansing flights. Hopefully you have also seen your bees out flying. Even if you have not seen them out this is an opportunity to think about feeding. In the Fall when putting your bee colonies to bed it’s a good idea to lift the back of your hives so you have an idea of how much food they have going into winter. Then in the New Year, lifting the hives you will get an idea of how much food they have taken since you last checked them. If they are feeling quite light, when we have dry days you could consider putting feed under the outer cover, placing it on the inner cover with a hole. Place fondant, or dry sugar lightly sprayed with water to aid the bees with digesting it. Dry feed is important as you don’t want to be adding any additional moisture into the hives. In the later Spring months, once it has warmed up considerably you may be able to lift the outer & inner cover and take a peek at your bees. Opening the hive and releasing all the warmth too early could be death to your colony. Often they will have moved to the upper box over the winter and will begin to be more active. Based on the activity and size of your colonies, and how much food they have, you may consider feeding them sugar water. This is a tricky time of year as the bees start to "wake up", but our spring flowers with pollen and nectar have yet to join them.
These early spring months are a great time to catch up on reading beekeeping information, and begin to get a list together of equipment you need to buy, repair, or replace. If you are just starting out, find a handy Equipment Checklist on our website.
If you are just beginning beekeeping here are a few suggestions:
It is always a good idea to join a beekeeping club, go to workshops, or take a course. Watch for Two Bees Apiary courses and the North Shore Bee Club. Some of the best advice you will get comes from those with the experience of trying many different ideas and methods out there. Ask two beekeepers, get four answers! You can find out what has worked for them, what has been a challenge, a blatant disaster, or something you never would have thought of doing yourself. Then you can form your own opinion.
Check into your local bylaws. Meeting the criteria will keep the neighbours, and ultimately you and the bees happy.
Give yourself lots of time to put your equipment together, especially if it’s your first time. Your hive bodies and supers can be painted to give them longer life. If you paint, you may want to get a couple of coats on. Many beekeepers are now using a more natural look, leaving the boxes as is, or using an eco-friendly stain.
Play with fire, yes, it’s okay this time! Get used to your smoker, practice lighting it and keeping it lit. Please do so in an appropriate setting. The object is to generate cool smoke that will last for a while. Though I tend to not use a lot of smoke, I like using it to mask stings.
Order your packaged bees in March/April from a reputable dealer. Another reason to be part of a club, as they often have the inside scoop. Watch our home page for information on Nucs being sold in the Spring.
If you have been beekeeping for a few years you will want to take an inventory of:
- Hive bodies: do they need to be repainted or replaced? Do you need to add to your expanding apiary? - Frames: Any broken ones requiring repair or need replacement? Do you need to add to your expanding apiary? -Foundation: If any appears damaged, old, or possibly diseased, replace it. -Look over your hive tools, smoker, and protective clothing. Anything need to be fixed, cleaned, or replaced?
By taking a little time now, you will ensure a smoother spring start. All the best for Bee Season 2018!