With our mild winter, thus the ability to bring in pollen, the honeybees have been busy producing brood. All the hives seem to have more frames of brood than usual for this time of year.
If the bees are flying, get into the hives and check for eggs and larvae. Count the number of frames of brood and compare the colonies to one another. This will be an indication of how good each queen is. You may also want to equalize the colonies. Take brood from the strong and give it to the weaker. Even this early, that will help slow down swarming in the stronger colonies. You may need to equalize again later in the spring. Work your way down to the bottom box. Is it empty of brood? If the bottom box is empty and all the brood is in the top box, one can switch those boxes, so the queen and brood are now in the bottom box. The top box is now empty. That will provide egg laying space for the queen to move up into. If there is some brood in the bottom of the top box and some brood in the top of the bottom box, do not switch the boxes. This would break up the brood and make it difficult for the bees to keep it warm. This switching of brood boxes, is a practice beekeepers use throughout the season.
Clean off the bottom board of all debris. If you have the resources to do so, it’s great to replace the bottom board with a clean dry one. Then dry out the one that was under the hive.
I’ve received several questions on feeding. Should you feed your colonies? If you want to split your colonies or they are light, the feeding of syrup and protein patties would be great. If you don’t care to be splitting your colonies in the near future, don’t feed. If you feed now and don’t split the colony, they will build up early and swarm before the honey flow gets here. A colony that swarms isn’t going to make honey. If you overwintered any nucs, those will need feed. They can easily starve. There isn’t enough room for honey in a 5-frame nuc.
For anyone getting packages or nucs, now is a good time to prepare the site. Put down concrete blocks, pavers, pallets, or whatever you are using for the hive(s) to set on.
Hang out yellow jacket traps to catch the queens.
Plan and prepare for a vegetable garden.
Camellia, Crocus, Daffodils, Dandelion, Forsythia, Heath, Willow, Oregon Grape, Buttercup, Peach, Cherry, Plum, Prune, Maple, Oregon Ash, Wild Mustard, Blueberries, Almond (here in the valley), and Pear.
Copyright 2015 – Richard Farrier – All rights reserved