It's exciting to feel the warm sun starting to peek through the Winter blanket, and temps are starting to occasionally approaching 60 degrees. Then like today it snows again a couple of inches of snow. Winter trying to hang on, but slowly losing her grip.
The bees are flying on the 45+ degree days and they are bringing back pollen to the hive (white and gray in color). An observation that you can make throughout the year is; If the hive is bringing in pollen then it is safe to assume they are raising brood. If you see an absence of pollen on the bees at anytime, then there will be an absence of brood as well. If this is the case, you need to make sure things are queen-right in the hive. If you feel you are queen-right but are still seeing a lack of pollen coming in, you may need to feed a pollen supplement. Sometimes a pollen and nectar dearth is caused by lack of rain which is a common occurrence here in Utah in July and August.
During the Month of March the hive begins expanding the brood nest and building up for the coming spring bloom (around the first of April here in Utah). Dandelions are one of first spring flowers to pop in our area, also crocuses are early bloomers. The hive will ramp up the internal hive temperature to a constant 93 degrees during the month of March, and expending this energy requires nearly as much honey as the previous winter months combined. There still isn't any nectar source this early, so having adequate honey supplies in the hive is critical (this is when hives starve to death).
We here at Homer's Honey will start feeding supplemental syrup and pollen patties (with Honey Bee Healthy, and Probiotic added) in early March. This insures copious amounts of food to support vigorous brood build-up even when it's to cold and snowing out and the bees can't fly, like today.
These are the Action Items we focus on this month of March -
1. We apply an Oxalic Acid Dribble Varroa Mite Treatment (Oxalic Sublimation/Vaporization works as well) sometime between President's Day and the first of March, while the hive is still relatively broodless on a day of 45 degrees or warmer.
2. Start Feeding Syrup (1:1 ratio) and supplemental pollen substitute, usually starting with a 1.5 to 2 lbs. placed between the brood boxes. I continue feeding throughout the month of March. We want to ensure the brood build-up regardless of the outside weather. Lack of these resources in the hive causes stress to the bee's immune system, making them more susceptible to diseases whether bacterial or viral, as well as a slowing of the brood nest development.
3. We also put a 1 ounce Grease patty ( Salvation Salve Blog) once a month in March, April, and May.
4. The first 60+ degree day I want to do a spring inspection. Cleaning any dead bees (harbinger of disease and mold) off the bottom board and checking for queen rightness, and brood status.
Enjoy your emerging springtime and your bees. See you next Month!