This blog explains how I keep bees. It works for me, it might not work for you. Use my methods at your own risk. Always wear protective clothing and use a smoker when working bees.

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Friday, March 2, 2012

It is time to check the hives

mmmmmmmmm pollen
Leave the wax paper on both sides. Note the patty is placed right on the bees.

It is going to warm up this week. Time to visit the hives to see what condition they are in. It will be in the upper 30's - 40's this week. There is no problem opening a hive when it is this warm. Don't pull frames.
Time to check food stores and hive strength.
  • Hive strength in early March should be at a minimum, four frames of bees. Meaning if a hive is inspected, there would be four frames covered on both sides with bees. When a hives' covers are taken off, there is normally bees spread across the top bars. A little smoke will spread them out, look for the main cluster to see the number of frames the bees are concentrated on. If the bees don't cover 4 frames, a package should be ordered to help the colony increase their numbers. A colony with two frames of bees or less I would consider dead. The numbers are so low they might not build up to a decent colony all season long.
  • If the hive is low on stores and the top box is light with weight I would feed.
  • If the top box is fairly heavy to heavy I would not feed. I don't feed colonies that don't need it. To much feed is bad. The bees will plug up the brood nest with syrup and the queen will have no place to lay eggs. The population will dwindle.
  • Now is the time to start feeding pollen patties. One big patty weighing around a pound. If the colony is average strength they will need another patty in about 10 days. A colony may need 4 patties or more for their spring build up until natural pollen is available. Patty placement is critical. The patty is placed right next to the bees. If the bees are in the lower box put the patty there. If they have to travel at all, even 6 inches. they may not get to it.
Everything that is done or not done in March affects the hive population, honey production, and divides that normally happen in May.