Spring is finally here and the bees are booming. I got the observation hive in my house restocked and installed and got the new observation hive at Brookside Nature Center, that was donated by our club, all set up. Well, by now all of us are in full spring mode, watching the bees collect pollen and nectar. Watching the queen lay and the brood area increase daily. We see the different color pollen coming in with each worker returning to the hive. It’s the best time of the year for a beekeeper. Hopefully you carried most of your hives through the winter and are setting into motion your plans for how you will manage your bees this season.
This is the time to clearly set out what you plan to do for the upcoming seasons. Do you plan on making splits, when (or if) you will requeen you hives, which hives do you plan on trying to get to produce liquid honey, comb honey, pollen or propolis? When and how will you test for mites, what kind of steps are you going to take if the mite levels get higher than you find acceptable. It’s always good to look upon what you’ve done in the past and change it or tweak it for the future. Without a plan, you are just hoping for luck to carry you and your bees through, which in the current state of “Bee” affairs, is not a very productive plan. Never fear the possibility of failure, as most (if not all) beekeepers experience failure on a regular basis. Be it loss of a queen, loss of a hive, an unexpected swarm, high mite levels, or many other possibilities. I think my biggest failure was trying to make splits after the nectar flow was over. What a mess that turned out to be!
Also, every time you go and inspect your hive you should have a reason and plan for going into the hive. Why are you going into this hive? New beekeepers go in often just to learn and gain more experience and increase comfort level. Are you going in to check something specific such as laying pattern, looking for swarm cells, stored honey amounts, mite level test, mite treatment, feeding? You should also know what the hive looked like the last time you were in and have at least some expectation of what you expect to see this time around, allowing you to identify anything that is out of the ordinary. Of course you won’t always remember what the hive condition was the last time you were in without good record keeping. Good record keeping (or any record keeping for that matter) is likely the weakest point for all beekeepers. It’s not easy to create records in the apiary during the inspection and later we are all just very busy. I’m trying again to keep up with my record keeping by using “HiveTracks” which is the free online record keeping tool with lots of bells and whistles for beekeepers to play with. Whatever method you use to keep records, try to keep up with it as you go along, as trying to remember all the details a week later does work well (speaking from experience).
Well no matter what you plan is or how you keep your records, enjoy your bees! Hope to see everyone at the May 14 meeting held at Brookside Nature Center.