Saturday, February 20, 2016

Looking Ahead

Good beekeepers are always thinking six months in advance. When we make our first brief hive inspection in late winter, we check to see if the bees survived the winter. At the same time, we are also checking to see if the colony has the potential to expand into a strong summer colony. If the bees didn’t survive the winter, we protect the combs so that we can fill the hive with a new colony in the spring. When we feed our bees pollen and sugar syrup in the spring, we stimulate the queen to lay eggs and produce a large population of bees to gather an abundance of summer honey or pollinate crops. In the spring, when we reverse our hive bodies and expand the brood nest by rearranging brood frames, not only are we providing space for our queens to lay eggs now, we are also reducing the bees’ desire to swarm later on.

Our bees rely upon us to build their hives. We must plan ahead and build enough hive bodies to accommodate a large colony and enough supers to hold next summer’s honey. Effective beekeepers learn when major nectar flows occur so that they can place the supers on their hives in time to gather a surplus of honey. When we harvest and extract honey, we are also preparing the combs for next year’s honey crop. When we treat our hives for Varroa mites in the fall, we are killing mites at the time and ensuring that we will have a larger population of bees to maintain a warm cluster in the winter. When we provide supplemental feedings in the fall, we are encouraging our queens to extend their egg laying, ensuring that we will have plenty of longer-lived worker bees to produce the brood food for next year’s first brood. Likewise, when we set up our hives for winter, we are actually setting the conditions for finding a healthy colony in the spring.

1 comment:

  1. Love your posts, checked my hives today and on track for a great year for splits and honey. Thank you for your help.