The first day of spring is only a few days away! My bees have been bringing in maple tree sap and pollen. I know this by watching bees on a maple tree that is weeping sap. Their Proboscis (from a Greek word meaning “to feed in”) is unrolled into the small sap puddles held in the bark.
I opened hives for the first 2016 inspection, checking for brood and other general hive conditions. Most hives have solid bee cover over a good amount of brood. Because the day was windy and a bit cooler then I would have liked, I limited the time that frames were out of the hive and also how long the hive was open. I will need to go back and complete things like replacing supers, bottom boards and covers when the temperature is better. I’ll add a super of comb to the top and rotate out older frames at this time.
Last fall’s winter preparations again proved to have been successful. My winter losses are limited to 2 nucs and 1 hive. This process has served me well over the years and is straightforward. I treat for mites in early August and feed both sugar syrup and protein supplement until the hive has good storage and brood production has slowed down. Any hive that is weak in August is combined with a stronger hive or reduced into a nuc sometimes with a new queen.
I have been making nucs to over winter for several years now. I find it easy to do and mostly successful. The brood break helps with mite control. Many of these nucs are made with swarm cells during the swarm season and are usually successful. If the queen doesn’t work out I just combine the bees back into a weaker hive. No cost and (except for labor) no loss. What’s not to like?
2016 will be a continuation of beekeeping the Buzzword Honey way. Not for everyone, but it works for me.