Well, my beekeeping friends, our season for beekeeping has begun here in the Piedmont area of GA.
There are a couple of items you need to be watching for to insure a great season.
Feed Your Bees!
Be sure to go into your hives to check your food supply for your bees. The girls are bringing in A LOT of pollen and not much nectar. Therefore, the queen is already laying lots of eggs. The weight you may be feeling could be brood and not food for the bees. I’m still feeding some sugar water, a 1:1 solution.
Here’s what’s happening in our flora and fauna world right now…
- Some plants are blooming a month ahead of our normal season.
- The bees are bringing in the pollen which stimulates the queen to start laying eggs.
- The populations that we’re seeing now are what we would normally see in April/May.
- There isn’t enough nectar outside to support the populations in the hives and the bees will starve.
- So – it would be good to feed your bees a sugar solution of 1 cup water to 1 cup of sugar.
Because we’ve had an unseasonably warm winter, the queens never really shut down so there was no break in the mite cycle. I’ve seen mites on my bees and I wasn’t specifically looking for them. Not sure what a mite looks like? Check this blog for pictures of mites on a bee.
I talked with Jennifer Berry from UGA and she said she’s seeing levels of mites that she would see in August or Sept and it’s only February.
- You can try powdered sugar but it may not be enough.
- There’s a new product Jennifer recommended – Hopguard which is the newest botanical mite control and it’s not temperature sensitive.
- You could also use formic acid – just PLEASE follow the directions!
I’ve already had one of my hives swarm. Again, because the queens are increasing the population so quickly, the boxes will be full and the bees start looking for another place to go and split the colony. Swarms are easy to catch. Check out this previous blog on swarms. This could be a great season with a great amount of honey. But, it’s very important that you begin your management now.
Be sure you have enough hardware available so it’s ready when you need it. I went into some hives yesterday with a friend and already, 4 of her hives needed another super asap. The bees had already filled more than 70% of the super. And it’s only February!!
You might want to try hanging a brood box with frames from a tree to catch some of the swarms. Be sure to use a pulley system because a full box could be heavy! My friend hung this hive over the weekend
Ever wonder where your bees are getting their pollen from? Well, the color of the pollen is indicative of the plant source. What you’re probably seeing now:
- Brownish/green (not a pretty color at all!) – Red Maple
- Red – Henbit (a great medicinal plant also)
- Yellow/orange – Dandelion and Camellias
Folks, this could be a great honey harvest season but it’s imperative that you pay attention to your bees now. Your management at the beginning of the season could make a difference in saving your bees or losing them, in having honey or not having honey.
If you have further questions, please comment here so others, who may have the same question, will be able to see the answer.
Happy Beekeeping!! It’s the most wonderful hobby and so beneficial in many ways!