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, February 7, 2014

Checking a hive in February

Beekeepers are approaching the critical time for over wintering colonies. February is the time when colonies starve to death. It is not that they are out of honey, it is because the queen is starting to lay eggs.
 As the hive starts to make brood, the consumption of honey will increase. The bees will deplete the honey stores surrounding the brood. As this honey is consumed, bees will have to go to another frame for honey. Depending where the brood is developing, the honey may be close or several frames away.
 If the temperatures stay around average, getting honey is usually not a problem. If temperatures over several days in mid to late February are below zero, starvation can occur. The bees starve because their cluster tightens up to keep the brood warm. This contraction of the cluster may pull the bees off their current food source, or the food is depleted and the cluster can't reach out to the next frame of honey. Extreme measures can be taken to move a frame of capped honey next to the cluster, or sugar can be placed on the top bars next to the bees.
If you lift the top box and find it very light and it appears starvation is probable. A beekeeper can take a frame of drawn comb, and with a hand sprayer. Spray sugar water into all of the cells of the frame. Filling up both sides of the frame with sugar water. A full frame may have about 6 lbs of sugar water. Place this frame right next to the cluster. You will have to do this again in about a week. Carefully monitor the consumption of the sugar water.
It appears the weather is getting better. After Sunday the 9th, the outlook is for more moderating temperatures. Being it has been so cold, I am hoping that brood production has been delayed a bit and should be starting about now.
We are hoping for warmer temperatures to finish out February.
This is a link to my youtube video of a hive quick check in Feb.