Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Checking Hives in Feb
This was from a previous year but the same result rings true.
Feb is the time of year of starvation. Quick checks can be done for evaluation of honey stores. The lifting of the cover for visual look takes 15 seconds. Lifting the top box for a weight check takes another 15 seconds with very little colony disturbance. If a colony is light on food there is a plan B for saving the colony.
Plan B should only be enacted if the bees are going to starve. If there is very little, to no food in the colony. Don't do this if there is frames of honey in the colony. You can be a pal and move a full frame of honey next to the cluster. This again takes about 15 seconds. Feeding syrup can stimulate brood rearing, it can be a little self defeating but if the colony is on the edge and about ready to croak, emergency feeding it is.
My favorite it to take an empty drawn comb frame. Get a spray bottle and spray sugar water into the cells of the frame. This is a bit messy and will promptly lead to divorce if done in the kitchen. But by spraying the frame repeatedly with the sprayer it will fill the frame to the top of the cells with syrup. The frame will be noticeably heavier . I try to make a heavier syrup than 1:1 but not as heavy as 2:1. The sprayer may not be able to push the thicker syrup. The full frame should be placed next to the cluster of bees. If the deep frame is full, there should be enough food for 10 - 14 days. If you want, two frames would really keep the colony going. When we start getting to the end of Feb and the temperatures are moderating a bit, we can throw on a feeder. Mid - March the pollen patties go on.