Spring plans

Anticipating spring is always fun. I love spring and fall, they are my favorite seasons for several reasons: the colors, the smells and the temperatures.

I love getting the seeds started, planning the garden, looking at the new perennials I want to get.

This year, spring includes bees and their needs. And this time it’s equipment: buying and painting. The hives need new bottom boards and I want them to be the Freeman beetle traps. Hive bodies and shims need to be stripped and painted, frames need to be assembled. And I need to replace Peter’s frames that I took from his hive in August.

There are decisions to make: Do I try comb honey this year? I saw pretty their pretty and the bees would make awesome comb honey. So should I try cut-comb honey or get Ross Round frames? Ross Rounds are frames that the bees would fill and then all I have to do is snap on a lid over the honey:

For my super, do I use a shallow or a medium? Maybe one super on one hive and then a box of Ross Rounds on another.

Then there’s feeding. It’s always a debate isn’t it? The one time it’s a clear decision is when there is NO honey. That’s an easy decision. But spring, if all goes well,  is when bees make the majority of their honey. Some folks feed the bees in the spring to increase brood numbers and allow a larger foraging force for the nectar flow. But the problem is, you can’t predict the weather and if you’ve artificially stimulated the queen to lay more eggs and there aren’t enough bees to cover the brood during an unexpected cold snap, that brood will die. And you’ve wasted the colonies resources for naught.

I think I have some pollen patties left over that I’d like to use up (natural pollen is best but substitutes will do in a pinch). I’d just like to get rid of it and I was thinking about putting it out for them but not necessarily in the hives because I don’t want them to build up more brood than they can support.

If I set the pollen patties out in the open, you know who will come for them don’t you?? Hornets and yellow jackets. Speaking of which, I need to set out those fabulous traps again. There seems to be enough real pollen coming in that I may hold off on the patties.

One thing that may be good about this insanely mild winter we’re having: maple trees are one of the early, significant sources of nectar and POLLEN for the bees. But it’s often too cold for the bees to fly when the maple trees are in bloom. Let us hope that we get lucky this year!

To help me keep track, this is my list of equipment:

Loose:

  • Bodies: Primed deep (damaged), Orange deep, Green shallow,
  • Primed shim, Green shim (need to repaint)
  • Orange inner ventilated cover
  • 2 Telescoping covers
  • Metal queen excluder
  • Solid inner cover
  • Frames: One drone frame, 3 deep plastic frames, 4 shallow plastic frames, 9 deep wax foundation frames, 1 deep plastic foundation frame, 10 shallow frames
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