The Heart of Virginia Beekeeper’s March Meeting was cancelled due to weather. Below are some things you should be doing in the month of March. The next Bee Club meeting is scheduled for April 2nd (2019) at 7 pm.
Things to do in March:
-- Check all your equipment, including protective gear, bee yard, fencing, etc. for repair or cleaning out debris.
-- If you need to move your bee yard or make any changes, you can still do it now.
-- Make sure your smoker is clean.
-- Put together three new wax foundation frames to replace old wax. You will be doing this every year.
-- If planning on getting honey, get honey supers ready and prepare to extract it, including jars or buckets and other equipment or lining up someone else who has it. Make sure you have everything you need.
-- If you have two hives ("colonies"), be prepared to have at least one split and one swarm, so you need to build two more hives.
-- ORDER any equipment or bees to replace lost hives or make your bee yard grow.
Packages from Larry Oxner are $100 each. Bee Day is April 6th -- (434) 665-1354.
-- Dead Hive: Block the entrance if you cannot do anything with it right away. As soon as you can, clean out any die-outs and get them ready for new bees. Try and figure out what killed them. Take notes on what you see so you can ask another beekeeper if you can't figure it out. Freeze brood frames if any wax moths. If any honey or drawn comb, put in freezer to add to new hive later.
-- Check on what is flowering.
-- If you get a chance to go into someone else's bee yard (any time of year), do so. You are sure to learn something.
-- FEED YOUR BEES! -- If they do not have any sugar candy left, put thin slices of fondant directly on top of the brood nest. Turn the inner cover upside down to allow space for the fondant. Solid food can be better taken by bees than liquid, at least until you see a major nectar source flowering, such as Eastern Redbuds or fruit trees. Even if the bees don't take it, leave it there. The bees need to think there is plenty of food. Note: The Queen will not lay unless she thinks there is enough food to feed her young. Also, bees will not build wax unless there is a nectar flow.
.... Once temperatures are consistently over fifty degrees during the night, switch to 1:1 sugar water mixed with Honey-B-Healthy.
-- WATCH YOUR BEES from the outside -- Look for:
....Pollen: Bringing in pollen means the queen is laying since they need pollen to feed brood.
....Drones: Drones in your hive means drones are starting to show up throughout the area. Drones are necessary for bees to swarm or to be split (unless you order a queen, which Larry Oxner can do if you call him in time).
-- INSPECT! (The smallest amount of bees you will see in the year is now. Inspecting will never get any easier than it is now.)
..... When there is more than one warm day in a row, inspect your brood box. Be prepared with extra hive bodies and your fresh replacement wax. Also, full-size Swiffer sheets in case you see any hive beetles. Spray the fresh undrawn wax frames with a mixture of sugar syrup and Honey-B-Healthy.
....If for some reason the bees are clustered, DO NOT break the cluster -- Close up the hive!
....If you have Double Deeps (two brood boxes) your bees should be in the upper box.
....Look for newly-capped brood or larvae (signs of a laying queen).
....Look for queen cells.
....Look for drones and/or drone cells.
....Take out the three worst, the dirtiest, the darkest wax and replace them with your fresh undrawn wax. Frames on the ends with honey on them should stay at the ends, so put the fresh frames just inside the honey frames, two on one side and one on the other.
.....If you see a lot of hive beetles, lay a full-size Swiffer sheet over the frames, leaving all four edges open.
....As soon as you have done these things and confirmed fresh brood, close it up.
-- WHEN HONEY FLOW STARTS AND YOU TAKE OFF SOLID FOOD, REVERSE BROOD BOXES!
....If you have Double Deeps and the bees are in the upper box, reverse the two boxes. If you have a single Deep and the bees have moved into the honey super, wait for the bees to move down on their own. If they don't move down, call your mentor.
*** Some of these ideas are inspired by the magazine for first, second and third year beekeepers, "BeeKeeping" by the same people who put out Bee Culture. Every issue is for a season of the year and has an article called "Hive Tasks." The other suggestions are based on what works in this area. One year (four issues) is $20. Go to: www.beekeeping3.com