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Talking about bee season, in 20 degree temps?

Yes, I realize it seems a bit nutty to send you an email about bee season getting started when its still feels like winter outside.  Even here in Texas we are experiencing a rare hard freeze today. But especially if you are in Texas you need to be thinking about bee season, because although my beeks to the North are still a ways away, we are truly just weeks away from true spring here in Texas.  Today I want to cover what you should expect to find and steps you may want to take during your first post winter hive checks.  

When you start your first checks will vary widely based on your seasons. Here in Texas we have very mild winters, and we usually perform our first post winter hive checks in February. When we perform the check will depend upon how cold the winter has been: cooler winters generally mean we wait longer, warmer winters means we check sooner.  (This presumes the hives were left with enough food. If we are worried about hives being too light, we may have had to feed throughout winter.) Important caveat: Check the weather forecast--do not check hives within a few days of a cold snap when temps will be close to or below freezing! 


Here are a few common occurrences you should expect to see in your hives:

  • Laying Queens: By first post winter checks, queens should have started laying 

  • Brood moving up: Often we find queens have started laying again, but in one of the upper boxes and often shoved against a side wall (not centered)

  • Bees bringing in pollen: Spring brood buildup has started

  • Mold on inner cover: Warm hives juxtaposed against cold temps often causes moisture

Some actions to consider: 

  • Clean Bottom Boards with your hive tool

  • Confirm Laying Queens: If we don’t have a laying queen, quickly glance to see if you can see her. 

  • Leave reducers on. If they have fallen/blown off, place back on.

  • Flip boxes if brood is in the top box, move the brood/boxes around so that the brood is the bottom and center of bottom hive body.

  • If populations are very low in one, and you are seeing another relatively very strong population AND that has at least 2 frames of brood, then you can share. Be careful of “Stealing from Peter to pay Paul”

  • If you see mold: vent inner cover by putting 2 pennies under corners of inner cover or small stick in the middle front.

  • Gauge food stores: if we hives feel light or you are at all unsure, feed 1/1 sugar syrup. (I generally use the rule that light is less than 3 frames of honey. We can also feed dry sugar this time of year.) 

  • Share food: if one hive is heavy and one is light, share food resources.  

  • If you find a dead out, clean it out and be sure to take steps to protect any brood comb that you find salvageable! 

Keep in mind that even across small distances, we see huge regional differences in micro climates, and resulting actions by our queens. For example, often queens southwest of Austin are several weeks behind, while hives further East of I-35 are several weeks ahead in their presuming of laying.

Do you need help with your first post winter hive checks or preparing for spring? Our team is ready to assist with in-person or phone consultations.  You can request an appointment here. Also, for the first time in 2 years we have our full beekeeping class schedule back on the books! From making splits. bee nutrition and more, you can see the whole schedule here.

Want to grow your apiary or need to replace hives?
If you do find that you've lost hives or you want to grow your apiary this year, we have nucs now on sale!  We are more than 80% sold out, do be sure to place your order soon.  We also have BeeWeaver queens available once again for pick up at the Honey Ranch. If you have plans to requeen or make splits in your hive,  reserve your date here.  The earliest queens sell out fast. 

Have you done your first post winter hive checks yet? What steps do you take that I didn't cover? Hit reply and tell me about it! 

For the Bees,
Tara Dawn

This weather means we have had to delay the start of our Spring Apprenticeship, which means there is still time to snag one of the last 3 spots!  Message me with questions and for info on how to save $200 on registration. 
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