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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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Late winter hive work

Put the pollen patties right where the bees are. They need to be able to touch the patty. Leave the wax paper on both sides of the patty. Replace if the patty starts getting hard or moldy.
We are now turning the corner on winter and transitioning into spring. Right now there should be brood in a live hive. The queen should be laying. The amount of brood can vary widely from hive to hive. Several factors can influence this, available pollen in the hive, hive strength, room for queen to lay.
 Sometime this week, pollen patties can be put on the hive. Once pollen patties go on, they should be checked every ten days or so. If they are being consumed, replacements should be offered as needed. Do not let the colony run out of patties. This can set them back and brood could perish from lack of protein. A steady supply of pollen assures good hive development. Poor protein supply results in poor quality bees that will have shorter lives and improper glandular development.
 Natural pollen collection can be interrupted by an extended cool or wet weather. Keeping pollen patties on the hive assures always having a protein source for the bees. I leave pollen patties on the hive until the dandelions come out. Then the fruit bloom comes with fruit trees and ornamental flowering trees. After the fruit bloom there is usually a dearth of pollen. I normally put pollen patties back on from mid May until early June. Package bees will need pollen on the hive from the time they are installed into a hive, until early June.
 The introduction of pollen into the hive will kick the hive into more brood production. More brood means greater consumption of honey stores. 
 Feeding sugar syrup or ProSweet may be required to keep the colony alive.
A beekeeper needs to judge whether feeding is necessary. Lifting up the top box should give you a clue if feeding is required. If a groan is involved in the lifting process, there is probably enough food for now, in the top box. If the top box seems light, give the colony a pail of syrup.
 The problem that beekeepers run into is, overfeeding. This is a common problem with spring feeding. If a beekeeper feeds pail after pail of syrup on an overwintered colony, the bees will fill their hive with syrup. This will leave no place for the queen to lay and the hives population may suffer.
 When feeding package bees or when drawing out comb on new foundation, feeding needs to be constant until the comb is all drawn out.
 Not much else to do yet. Keep the winter covers on for another couple weeks.