Start of season 2020

As a beekeeper, the beginning of the year starts with the decision of when to take your first peak into the hives. It may seem like a simple thing but it always ends up being an agonising choice.

Weather plays a big part. You have to think what weather is coming as well as what is happening on the day. A period of relatively mild weather will start the queen laying and filling the brood box but if the weather stays cold then the trees and flowers bloom late and nectar and pollen is delayed. If the queen timed it wrong the hive will starve as the increase in mouths to feed exhausts what little food is left in the hive after the long winter months.

So what does the beekeeper feed? Fondant or sugar syrup? Fondant just keeps them alive but can be fed at any temperature. Sugar syrup stimulates the queen to lay faster and so lots of bees are ready for when the true spring flow (lots of nectar) kicks in and so more honey is collected. The problem is that below 10 Celsius the bees don’t take it even if their starving.

Before feeding though the beekeeper needs to decide if they should. Feeding too much fills all the space in the hive and there’s no where left for the queen to lay and then the hive dwindles and dies out. Not feeding may lead to starvation as already said.

But before you go opening that hive remember that lets all the cold in and can chill (kill) the brood thats about to hatch and provide the new bees for the spring.

So the answer is to spend time checking the weather forecasts, hefting ( lifting) the hive to check its weight and watching the entrance to see whether the bees are flying and bringing back pollen for food. Then take the plunge and hope you chose the right moment.

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