Bee Thinking About – For March, 2013

This is the time of year when the geographic differences of our readers are really amplified in the bee yard. The far south may have hives busting with bees; the far north may have hives buried in snow. And with the usually unpredictable weather being even less predictable the last few years, that may be opposite of what’s happening.

Please keep in mind that we have to discuss activities in general terms because of those vast climate differences. What you need to do with your hives this time of year varies by your management philosophy, apiary goals, current weather, likely weather, and condition of your colonies as we head into the season.

Please also see our article in our ‘Healthy Bees’ section that addresses spring hive inspections more specifically.

In The Deep South

Spring is likely bursting, and colonies may be doing that as well. You should find ample brood in the colony, and bees bringing in plenty of pollen. Make sure your bees have room for these additional stores, and make sure the hive has the frames or boxes ready to accommodate that brood when it emerges.

If you perform grafts, ensure you have all the necessary equipment—syrup, feeders, pollen patties, grafting tools, cell cups, cell bars, cell bar frames, double screens, mating nucs, cell builders, and finishing colonies.

It is also swarm season; be ready with what you need to capture bees if you are a “swarm chaser.”

If you have a queen breeding operation, its time to select your strong survivor colonies with the hygienic behavior you want to procreate, and get those to your breeding yards where you can work and maintain your mating nucs.

Medications? If that’s part of your plan, it may be time to start those, or at least ensure you have them ready.

 In the Mid-South

In a nutshell: get ready!

Make sure your extra equipment is assembled, painted, or close to it.

If you know you have dead-outs, it’s about time to clean them up and evaluate reusing pieces and parts, depending on the reason for their demise. (See related article.)

It’s also time to be ready with pollen patties to place above the cluster for additional food when the weather is chilly. The queen wants plenty of pollen as she ramps up brood laying. See Gary Reuter’s article in this newsletter.

In the North

Mother Nature has certainly challenged everyone with weather extremes. Hopefully most of your hives successfully overwintered, and are in early build-up stages.

March can be a lion or a lamb; chances are it’ll be both. Please review our considerations for the South and mid-South, as those will be your considerations probably by April. Or much earlier. Or later!

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