Charlie's monthly beekeeping calendar

Your monthly guide of beekeeping tips for you and your hives

February 5, 2024

To all SBA Members,

If you haven't already noticed, the days are getting longer. In December, it would be dark by 4:30 pm, and now it is about 5:30 pm before it gets dark. This extra hour of day light doesn't sound like much, but it is one of the key triggers in the honey bee world that tells the queen when to start laying eggs.

As the days get longer, the bees will raise the cluster temperature and the queen will start laying eggs to expand the size of the colony in preparation for the spring nectar flow. In past years, I have found very small patches of eggs and brood around the second or third week of February.

With that said, the bees are going to start consuming their winter stores at a faster pace in order to maintain the high cluster temperatures needed for brood rearing. As the beekeeper, you must be diligent in checking food stores in your hives through February and March so the bees do not run out of food.

Friday, January 26, the temperature was 70 degrees. I took advantage of the warm weather to check my nuc hives for food stores and bee population, and I found that there is a good population of bees and a lot of stores in the hives. I did find that the single five frame nuc that went into winter with a small population was dwindling in population but still had a queen. I would not be surprised if this nuc does not make it through the winter.

To see firsthand as I look into my hives go to my You Tube Channel link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHLI_yJby5w

What's New
North American Honey Bee Expo Conference 2024

January second was the start of my annual beekeeping vacation. We were on the road by five a.m., heading west to Louisville, Kentucky, for Kamon Reynolds' North American Honey Bee Expo Conference. This year the conference was moved to the Kentucky Expo center due to the growth in beekeeper and trade show vender attendants. The conference increased in size from 2000 beekeepers and 90 beekeeping supply venders last year to 3000 beekeepers and 140 beekeeping supply venders.

The supply venders were displaying wooden ware, honey extractors, automatic uncapping machines, beekeeping suits, oxalic acid vaporizers, insulated bee hives, honey bee photography items, computer hive tracking programs, and related bee products for the backyard, sideliner, and commercial beekeeper, with lots of show discounts on many products.

There were twenty-six speakers at the conference this year, with three classrooms running at the same time. These include Bob Binnie, a commercial beekeeper from north Georgia and a YouTube content creator; Paul Kelley from the University of Guelph in Canada; Richard Noel, a commercial beekeeper from Britney, France, and a YouTube content creator; Fredrick Dunn, a beekeeper from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and a YouTube content creator; Dr Humberto Boncristiani, a second-generation beekeeper and honey bee researcher; Dr. Meghan Milbrath, a professor in the Department of Entomology at MSU; and the list goes on and on. For a full list of speakers and their bios go to www.nahbexpo.com and click on "Speakers".

YouTube content creators and friends that I follow were all there: Randy McCaffrey (628 Dirt Rooster), Mike Barry (Barry Best Honey), Bruce Jenne (Brucesbees), Brian Koper (Castle Hives), Greg Burns (Nature's Image Farm), Jason Crook from Cecil County, MD (Bohemia Bees), and of course, Kamon Reynolds, along with dozens of my subscribers from my YouTube channel and Friday night Live Stream. Also, SBA of Maryland members Andy Hammond, Bryan Bender, and Monica Schmitt from Carroll County Beekeepers were there.

There was also a honey judging contest, and related contests for bee inspired artwork, honey based food products, items made from beeswax, and antique beekeeping tools.

To check out the conference firsthand go to my You Tube Channel link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=697Irkmp5IE&t=1s

Pollen Feeding
Feeding pollen patties depends on your beekeeping goals.

Are you trying to build up brood because it is a weak hive? Do you want to make a spring split? If you have a strong hive, you may decide to just let the bees bring in pollen when it is available naturally. A word to wise: a hive that builds up strong with bees early in the spring has a higher threat of swarming.

This year I am going to try Global Pollen Patties that have 4% real pollen and Apis Biologix (Rocket Fuel) in them. I hope to see a dramatic increase in brood production as well as an increase in royal jelly production in my cell builder hive this year.

Here is a video by Dr Clarence Collison on spring hive management. I found this video is very informative, with an abundance of useful facts about feeding and causes of starvation, as well as how the bees use pollen in the hive. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oC_3tTwhI8

What are you going to do in February?
1. Continue to enjoy a well deserved break from beekeeping but keep a close eye on your hives' food stores.
2. Take advantage of the cold weather to move or reconfigure hives in your apiary.
3. Educate yourself by reading beekeeping books from the SBA library. 4. Set goals for what you want to accomplish with your bees this year and make plans to implement them.
5. Place your orders for nucs, packages, and queens now. If you procrastinate, they will be sold out!
6. Take inventory of all your beekeeping equipment and determine what you will need for this year's beekeeping season.
7. Repair, assemble, and paint wooden ware over the next two months.
8. Ensure that fresh water is available when it is warm enough for the bees to fly.

Winter Feeding
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9piSQlWhgI

Some beekeepers replace the inner cover with a candy board. In the past, I have helped the Sustainable Honeybee Program near Harpers Ferry, Virginia, to fill shims with a mixture of sugar, apple cider vinegar, and water to make candy boards. The late Billy Davis, EAS Master Beekeeper and friend, will show you how to make candy for a candy board at his YouTube channel.

All of the videos listed here are just suggestions for what you can do. You will have to figure out what works best for you and your hives.

Happy Beekeeping!

Charlie Thomas
SBA President
My YouTube channel is Sawmill Charlie's Bee Farm