For February, 2013

For most of us North American beekeepers, there isn’t yet much to do IN the apiary. We covered those items in our January issue. Please continue to hope for breaks so the bees can buzz out to do their business as well as move their (hopefully large) cluster to food stores.

There’s still plenty to do beyond the apiary—last month’s three pages outline all sorts of things to keep you from missing your bees too much.

We turned to one of our favorite beekeepers, Cleo Hogan, to affirm that there isn’t much most of us should be doing in the apiary. Cleo notes: “Unless you are talking about the Deep South, I can’t think of ANY reason to open a hive in January, February, and first part of March. Perhaps there is one thing—you could look to make sure the entrance is clear, not plugged with snow or ice. Other than that, there is nothing you could do, even if you found a problem.”

“By mid-March you could look to see if dead bees are clogging the entrance, evidence of deadout, and then plan as to how you want to replace it. You could possible feed if you have several warm days, but in January and February you won’t normally have very many warm days in a row. Just a day here and there, and still very cold nights. If you have a day or two of warm weather, bees probably won’t break cluster, so feeding will do little or no good. Might as well wait until March.”

Down south however, things are starting to stir. Dennis Brown, a Texas beekeeper, provides his insights below.

So, grab your new Kelley’s catalog, plan, and continue to dream of the days soon to come.

February Activities for Beekeepers in the South

February is a busy month here at Lone Star Farms in Bryan, Texas. This is the month that I put together all that equipment I ordered last month. It is time consuming to put together several boxes, frames, tops and bottoms. Then, when you finish all that, you still have to get all that equipment painted.

By working with a good plan I made in January, I am able to have all the parts I need to complete my February work load. I don’t have to re-order anything which would only slow the process down.I believe in keeping my bee yard in good order so February is a good time to perform that task. I make sure that all the hives are sitting level on their stands and that the grass and bushes are cut away from the hives. I like to have plenty of work space around each hive. The bees will need unobstructed access into their hive entrance when the nectar sources become available to them.

February is a good time to inspect all my feeders to make sure they are clean, in good working order and ready to go in case they are needed when I perform my first hive inspection around the first of March. (In the Kelley newsletter for March, I will be discussing how to perform a good hive inspection and what you should be looking for.)

The start of the bee season will be exploding here in Texas by March 1st and if you have a passion for beekeeping like I do even after 50 years, you know how hard it is to contain your excitement. Are we there yet?

Dennis Brown of Lone Star Farms,, author of “Beekeeping: A Personal Journey”, of course available from Kelley’s!

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