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, March 1, 2020

Happy March - Time for some Beekeeping

This is an old picture, but feeding pollen is still the same. Putting the pollen patty right on the bees. I put this patty on and right away the bees are going after it. Leave the wax paper on both sides of the patty. The wax paper help keep the pollen patty fresh and moist. The bees will chew through the wax paper and the paper will end up on the bottom board.

March is coming in like a lamb. No Lion at the moment. Now is the time to do some chores. March average high goes from 34 degrees on March 1st to 49 degrees on March 31st. Sunset goes from around 6 pm to 7:38 pm.
  • Check bees look for alive or dead. If you don't see them on top and you think they are dead, lift up the top brood box. The bees may not have moved up yet and can be down deep in the hive. There is still time to order package bees but that window is getting smaller everyday.
  • Open up the hive, do not pull frames or breakdown the hive. Unless the hive is dead. If the hive is dead, clean up any dead bees that are loose or in a cluster. Try to establish a reason for the hive's demise. Learn from this and change your wintering habits to get better wintering success. Clean off the bottom board in the dead hive. Close up the dead hive. Make the dead hive bee tight so the honey does not get robbed out before new bees come.
  • If the hive is alive, check for food stores. I usually like to feed the bees one pail of syrup no matter what. The bees will take down the syrup and put the syrup around their brood. If the weather goes south, the bees will have ample stores where they need it most. A pail of syrup, if the bees take it down, will give the bees 10 days to two weeks of food. A word of caution, do not feed pail after pail of syrup. The bees will take the syrup down a plug up the hive with syrup. The queen will have no place to lay eggs and the bees population will suffer.
  • Time to add a pollen patty. The pollen patty has to placed right where the bees are. I put the patty right on top of the cluster. If the patty is placed away from the cluster, the bees may not touch the patty and the bees population will suffer. If the bees are occupying two brood boxes. I place pollen patties on the top bars on the top box and on the top bars of the box below. Check on the patties every 7-10 days, replace as needed. A strong overwintered colony may eat up four patties in the spring. I usually keep pollen on until May. Then put another patty on right after the fruit bloom , usually by May 20th. Pollen is cheap and is necessary for hive population expansion. Pollen is what helps turn a colony to a hive that can be split in May.
  • Too early to pull off winter covers.
  • Look at the hives population. If the overwintered colony has two frames of bees, it is probably too weak to make it. You could try to nurse it along, but consider moving the bees into a five frame nuc box. The bees can keep this smaller box warmer. Plus you can wrap the nuc with 2" Styrofoam for greater insulation. If you have a couple other hives alive, a frame of brood can be added to a weak hive in April to give the weak colony a boost.
One of my simple pleasures is the first time I open a colony of bees in early March. There is nothing more satisfying when you remove the inner cover and the bees are covering the top of the top brood box. The bees are buzzing, the noise of the hive, the odor of the hive. A welcome start to my new season of being a beekeeper.