We receive hundreds of phone calls in March of each year. The conversation goes like this…
Caller – “Ray, I do not know what happened. I opened my hive today and all the bees are dead! It must be that the colony collapse disorder has hit my area.”
Ray – “When were you last in your hive”?
Caller – “I have not been in my hive since October of last year”.
Ray – “How much honey was in the hive when you opened it up this week?”
Caller – “There were no frames of honey found in the hive. I always leave a full super of honey and that usually gets the bees through the winter.”
Yes, this caller did all the right things in keeping a super of honey for their food source during the winter months. The problem is that the caller did not understand that the colony was much more larger this year and the winter months were three weeks longer than average.
It is very important to check on your hive in January & February. Regardless of how cold it is today, you can go out and stand behind your hive and gently lift the rear of the hive about 1 inch just to feel the weight of the hive. If it is heavy, there should be enough honey for a couple more weeks. If the hive is light weight, it is time for a quick action plan. An easy way to feed the bees would be is to insert a Boardman Entrance Feeder in the front of the hive utilizing the larger sized opening of the entrance reducer.
The Boardman Feeder should be filled with a sugar water ratio of 2:1. This will allow your bees the necessary hydration and food to continue through the winter season.
If the temperature rises to 55 degrees, it would be a great time to insert a “pollen protein patty” which the bees will appreciate for their diet. It best to be in the hive, no more than 5 minutes, to help retain the warmth of the colony and to not chill your bees.
If you can give your bees sugar water and pollen patties it should get them through the winter! Pollen patties can be made of sugar cakes or patties with pollen granules, seven drops of Lemongrass essential oil, and 5 drops of Tea Tree essential oil to make a patty with the dimensions of 1/2″ high x 4″ wide x 6″ long. You will want to mix these ingredients by hand.
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