Presidency message for January of 2016
by: Owen Parry
So we’re starting out a great new year and we would like to thank our presidency from last year and the great work fulfilling their duties.
There are a few things as beekeepers can do to help take care of our bees year round. Yes even in January we can be caring for them.
I remember that one year on the 24th of January my wife called and said there was bees coming out of our one of our hives like crazy. Later on that spring I did an autopsy on the hive and they had starved to death, it turns out the activity on the 24th, was their last ditch effort to try to go find some food. I was a new beekeeper so in hindsight it would have been a really good idea to put a entrance feeder in there, then I might not have been doing an autopsy. Also it’s a good time to start thinking about hives that you know were strong last fall,  after knowing you have all the equipment necessary to go ahead and split the hive.  If you are unsure on how to do this, it is why we have a mentoring program and people willing to help.
Also it’s a good time to maybe knock on the side of a your hive and then see if you can hear it buzz and another good way to know some of the condition of the food in your hive is to lift up the back to feel how heavy it feels.
January is also the time to order nukes and or packages. The price has been going up, double since when I started in 2012. The longer you wait the higher the prices will go, so ordering as early as you can is ideal.
Here are a few other tips and tricks for January.
What a beekeeper should be doing in January:
  • In general disturb your bees as little as possible. Learn to access what is happening inside the hives by looking around outside of your hives and within the apiary.
  • Look on the ground around the entrance of a hive. Dead bees can actually be a good thing – indicating that live ‘undertaker’ bees are cleaning up the inside of the hive.
  • Keep entrances clear of snow.
  • Check entrance reducers and mouse guards if you use them. Mice can chew the openings of wooden reducers large enough to get in. Look for this evidence and cover them with tin or hardware cloth making sure to leave the opening large enough for bees to pull the dead out.
  • Check for life by knocking on the hive and listening for the buzz.
  • Lift the back of the hive to assess its weight and provide emergency feed to featherweight colonies. Those using candy boards can chock some new blocks of pre-hardened sugar in to the top if necessary.
  • Make periodic checks of your apiary, especially after a wind storm to make sure nothing is amiss.
  • For the non-procrastinators, this is a good time to assemble hive components and repair older equipment while there is not much else to do.
  • Order your queens, nucs, and packages now.
  • Attend bee club meetings and read a bee book.

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