Monthly suggestions for backyard beekeepers...in Central Texas.
• Hive Inspections:
When the temperature is above 50 degrees or more (sunny and not windy!) you might want to inspect hives. The purpose of hive inspections this month, is to make sure each hive has adequate stores (of honey and pollen) to prevent starvation and get bees through February and March!
• How much honey?
It is generally agreed that any hive of bees should not have less than one or two 9-5/8" frames of honey. A strong colony during the first
weeks of February will have from 6 to 10+ frames of bees and 10 to 30+ pounds of honey. A medium frame will weigh 3-5 lbs. and a deep will weigh 7-9 lb per frame.
• Supplemental sugar
While freezing temperatures are still an issue, granulated sugar can help supplement food stores...not sugar syrup; put sugar on a sheet of brown packing paper, 8 1/2"x11", placed across the top of a box of frames, but, below the inner cover. Several scoops of sugar.
Caution, do not use powdered sugar.
• Entrances narrowed down to an inch or so
To help keep the hive warm and cold winds out!
• February is the time to order equipment and bees for spring if needed.
The month of March can surprise beekeepers because many bees starve during this time of the year. Check your local environment. Are trees and flowering plants providing pollen? If you see your bees bringing in pollen, the queen will soon begin laying. Flying bees require more energy (honey). Regularly check the weight of your hive, and feed if necessary. If the hive feels light when you lift the rear, it probably needs sugar water. Texas temps fluctuate and a sudden cold snap can result in bees starving because they used up stores due to warmer temps prior to the
• Hive Inspections:
When warm enough, check your varroa count and treat if needed.
Focus on swarm prevention early in the month by checker-boarding, i.e. alternating empty brood frames and honeycomb above the brood chambers to create space for the bees or, rather, make them think that they have more space. In an untouched hive, the brood chamber containing the eggs and hatching larvae is located in the center, and checker-boarding spreads out this area. It doesn’t require additional honey; just move an empty honeycomb (a frame with drawn-out wax) into the spot from which you removed a frame with brood on it.
• March Feeding: Use 2:1 sugar to water until the outside temperature warms up. Then you can use 1:1. To make a 2:1 mix of sugar and water, use a 10 lb bag of sugar, with 11 cups of water. Do not boil the sugar water. Heat the water first, then add the sugar to the hot water (not boiling water). Stir until dissolved. The reason for not using 1:1 is because the extra water can cause cooling condensation in the hive. Plus the bees have to work harder (fanning) to reduce the water content.
Videos - Hive Management
Super Spacers and Shims
Use this 2", super/spacer in a variety of ways. From Mann Lake: "Baggie Feeder"
ready to put together.
In the winter, use a 2" super between two boxes or under an inner cover to provide space to mound dry sugar on a 3/4 sheet of brown, packing paper, placed on top of frames.
In hot summer temperatures, use as a
"ventilation super". Drill 2, 1" holes in at least
two sides and cover holes with plastic
Mann Lake - 8 or 10 frame Baggie Feeder (fd112)
Place this 3/4" shim between boxes to provide space for Varroa treatment trays.
Mann Lake - 8 or 10 frame shim (ww239)