As I reflect on my years of beekeeping (going on 11 years). One of the lessons I've learned is that NO 2 years are the same. The beekeeping management principals are the same but the timing of when things happen and when to employ some of the action items changes some every year. Not a lot but there can be a couple of weeks difference year to year. They saying that Beekeeping is 50% Science and 50% Art comes to mind as I gain experience reading what is going in the hive. That experience helps you decide what needs to be done and when, during the beekeeping season. As you experience and learn from each year.
I've become a weather watcher looking daily at the weather forecast on my KSL weather app (or what ever your favorite weather app is). I am looking at the 10 day trend ahead, trying to anticipate when to do swarm control, do a mite treatment, whether resource supplementation is needed, etc. I am watching the weather in the winter into Spring here in the Layton, Utah area. Some years the spring starts early and the temperatures warm up in February and March, or it can be cold and rainy or even snowy.. Sometimes it rains a lot, some years it rains very little. It can be unusually cold and wet and we get occasional snow storms clear up till almost the middle of April. Last year it was a warm, dry April and turned hot in early May and very little precipitation in May Through July. We had 100 degree weather in early June through early August. Which killed the early honey flows in a lot of areas. But we had a much wetter than usual August, an extremely unusual 4 inches of rain (here in Layton, Utah, 28% of our annual rainfall). We actually saw a little honey flow that I had never seen before in the last 9 years I have been beekeeping.
The reason I am making this observation, is that a beekeeping calendar needs to be a little flexible to adjust with the conditions and the stresses the hive under goes because of them. A beekeepers job is to facilitate and support what the bees naturally are trying to do. If there is a dearth of precipitation and higher temperatures than normal in the Spring or Fall you need to monitor your hive and supplementally feed them, if needed, to help avoid stressing the hive. Most of the diseases the hive can suffer from flourish in a hive that is stressed. Just like when we as humans get run down by working to hard and long, not sleeping enough or eating poorly. Our bodies gets stressed and our bodies natural defenses (our immune system) doesn't work as efficiently and we catch a cold, or the flu, or covid. Healthy hives also have an immune system that helps protect the hive from the sea of germs and viruses they live in, just like we do. My job as the beekeeper is to help keep the hive stocked with the resources they need to stay healthy. Mother Nature provides what they need for the most part. But there can be weather events during the year that can be a challenge for the Bees and cause a stress event in the hive.
I will feed 1:1 sugar syrup in March, April and May and 2:1 sugar syrup June thru September, if needed. I also use the "Bee Beanie" to insulate the top of the hive during the winter months November through early March. (Where most of the heat loss occurs in a hive during the winter), and put in the winter fondant patties as kind of an insurance policy that they won't run out of food through out the winter till spring. IF the conditions warrant it. I will also feed our pollen patties supplement in March and August through early Oct, again if warranted. To keep healthy hives, make sure they have the resources they need through out the year. These early Spring and Fall periods can be when the weather fluctuations can impact these critical periods of brood development the most. Spring build up and healthy Winter fat bee cluster development. The responsibility as the Beekeeper is to give a helping hand when they need it to help maintain a healthy hive and a healthy immune system.
Just a reminder about Nucs and Packages
Now is the time to order your Starter Bee packages or Nucs or Spring Queens for delivery This April. There is a Limited supply of our well managed and wonderful Utah bees. We do sell out early every year (last year in Feb) . Click here to Order