What are the bees doing in January and February in our geography?
LATE FALL / WINTER
November - December - January - February
Some colonies will have drastically reduced any brood rearing. Depending on weather and race, others may continue with more than a frame or 2 of brood while others may be drastically reduced to near nothing. Generally, towards the end of December, bee colonies rely on fall (September/October) nectar sources for over-wintering. The aging process of worker bees is suspended by a few months, allowing them to live longer over the fall and winter months.
Wintering success depends on many factors:
While it may be sub-freezing outside, workers in the colony cluster are generating heat, keeping the hive anywhere from the low 60'sF to low 90'sF when brood-rearing commences, dependent on lengthening day-light hours.
It's a time to get excited for the new season. The first blooms of the new year in our area are the Silver Maples. In 2015, the first recorded bloom was on January 26 in Merriam, Kansas. In 2016, it was on Friday, January 29th. Of course, it was an El Ninÿo year. It was observed on December 15th, 2016, that bees were still bring in pollen. Amazing out there!
The Northeastern Kansas Beekeepers' Assn provides a monthly newsletter that is informational, educational, and fun! Click on the links at the side to view "The Bee Buzzer" newsletter.
This is how we announce our meetings, topics, locations, and timely advice.
Celebrate the honey season by sending chocolate to the editor: Not really!—she doesn’t need it. However, she does need your pictures and stories of success to share with readers, along with pictures and stories of what went terribly wrong to help us all better keep bees. Email them to our editor, Joli Winer, and thanks in advance.
Northeastern Kansas Beekeepers Association
Contact US by email: beekeepers@NEKBA.org
Northeastern Kansas Beekeepers
August - September - October
Honey bee colonies rely on fall nectar sources for over-wintering. The last flowers die with onset of 1st heavy frost and freeze. Generally, any summer honey to be harvested should be pulled by the Labor Day holiday. This does couple of things in preparing the colony in your hive for winter. It packs the brood boxes with bees, and concentrates the protection of the colony with bee, making the bees place food stores of pollen and nectar in, around, and above the brood nest area. Keep in mind, nectar is the bees real food. Nectar is converted into honey for their long-term storage - winter food!
September is the normal time to help your colony prepare for the long-haul of winter. Make sure your bees have the best chance by knowing and checking your mite load and food stores. Mother Nature plays no favorites. Fall can be a difficult time to correct any problems that may have been discovered too late.
October / November 2017 What you should be doing from now until the end of the year
As part of your seasonal management, it's time to get ready for what fall brings to the bees and beekeeper(s). October and November are times to make sure your colony is ready for the cold winter months. Yes, we know it has been un-seasonable warm these last few weeks. Don't be fooled. Mother Nature during winter in 20F in dark January will not be kind to your bee colony.
Are you leaving honey supers on for fall or winter or spring?
- why, that's just too much for the bees! You'll be encouraging next year's swarms in April besides taking the risk of losing the honey should the colony not make it through winter. Your honey bee colony produces, under decent conditions, way more honey than they can possibly use. The population can decrease another 25% by January/February from their peak in June/July. Help your honey bees help themselves! Avoid the risk. Take your honey when you should and when you're supposed to. Otherwise, it could be a detriment.
Harvest the Spring Honey Crop in early July
Why? It's all about risk. As part of our Best Practices tips, we encourage beekeepers in our area to harvest the spring honey crop as soon as possible in early July. Conditions are generally perfect - warm and dry. It's simple. There is too much risk in leaving the spring honey on the colony all summer. Hive populations are at their peak in June/July. By September, they can be as much as 25% lower, if you wait that long. Beekeepers would be taking a great risk, and could lose it all - both honey & bees. There are just too many bad things that can happen to the honey bee colony due to mites and small hive beetles! If they happen to go queen-less or collapse, the beekeeper risks losing ALL of the honey. So, take your spring honey in July. Don't delay. Plan ahead.
Harvest the Summer Honey Crop in early September
Why? The summer honey harvest will be smaller than the spring, and look and taste different, too! Take advantage of letting your bees make a summer honey crop. You'll be amazed. Removing summer honey by early September (Labor Day), and removing supers, encourages the bees to use the remaining season to store food stores in the upper brood box, assuming that you are over-wintering as a double-deep in a Langstroth style hive. (If you have a populous colony, you could still leave one (1) super until later in the fall -but harvest the honey!) Therefore, you most likely won't have to feed for winter! Each deep frame holds 6 lbs of honey & pollen. After frost, it's all over for any type of incoming natural food resources such as nectar (carbohydrate) and pollen (protein) for the year. Too, depending on your treatment product for mites, this could be the best time to get the mite population under control for your bee colony. Most miticide products cannot be used with honey supers on the hive. So, manage accordingly to keep your colonies alive. Keeping bees alive means that we must all be 'active' in our management style. We cannot be passive about our endeavor to keep our bee colony alive and thriving.