Charlie's monthly beekeeping calendar

Your monthly guide of beekeeping tips for you and your hives

January 17, 2022
To all SBA Members,
Happy Beekeeping New Year everyone!

Winter has finely arrived! The past three months have been unseasonably warm which has me very concerned about the amount of winter stores that are left in the hives. The number one question is: Do your hives have enough food stores to get your bees through winter and into spring? I have been checking the weight of my hives by lifting the back of the hives with one arm to see how heavy they are. I have found a couple of nucs that were light so I put a candy board on one and fondant on the other. In the meantime, I made thirty 1 1/2 shims to put on my nucs in anticipation of having to feed fondant and sugar bricks. As an experiment, this winter I put candy boards on all my ten frame honey hives to see whether this will help my bees from starving in early spring this year.

The winter solstice on December 21 marked the start of a new year of beekeeping. 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.

But because of the warm weather that we have had this fall I found a nuc that had a patch of capped brood on one frame about four inches in diameter and around the capped brood I found a large area of one day old eggs the last week in December. WOW!

I hope everyone's hives have made it through the winter so far. I recommend that you keep a close eye on your hives' food stores as the weather permits.

Hive Life Conference

January fourth was the start of a long overdue vacation for me, on the road by 5:30 am heading south to Sevierville Tennessee for Kamon Reynolds' Hive Life Conference.

This conference was the biggest conference that I have ever attended, with close to 900 beekeepers and YouTube beekeeper content creators there. There were over 35 beekeeping supply venders displaying wooden ware, honey extractors, automatic uncapping machines for the sideliner beekeeper, beekeeping suites, oxalic acid vaporizers for the back yard beekeeper and commercial beekeeper, plus lots of show discounts on all the products.

The speakers at the conference were Kent Williams, a commercial beekeeper and EAS Master Beekeeper from Kentucky (and who taught me queen rearing three years ago at the Honey Conference in Knoxville, TN); Bob Binnie, a commercial beekeeper from north Georgia and YouTube content creator; Rick Sutton, a commercial beekeeper from Kentucky; and David Peck, PhD, Betterbee's Director of Research and Education.

The YouTube content creators that I follow were all there: Randy McCaffrey (628 Dirt Rooster), Mike Barry (Barry Best Honey), Bruce Jenne (Brucesbees), Brian (Castle Hives), Greg Burns (Nature's Image Farm), Jason Crook from Cecil County, MD (Bohemia Bees), Jose Uribe (The California Beekeeper), and of course, Kamon Reynolds (Tennessee's Bees).

I am already planning to go to the 2023 Hive Life Conference to be held next January 6 & 7.

What are you going to do in January?
1. Keep a very 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 of bees, and queens. 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 three months.
8. Ensure that fresh water is available when it is warm enough for the bees to fly.

Winter Feeding
Here is a video from Jason Bragg (Queen Breeder), who lives in central West Virginia, on how he makes his dry winter feed mix.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scGnxhPvRvU
Some beekeepers replace the inner cover with a candy board. The late Billy Davis, EAS Master Beekeeper and friend, will show you how to make candy for a candy board at.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9piSQlWhgI
Here is a video from Kamon Reynolds in Tennessee talking about bee nutrition and making sugar bricks.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ENSb99ymvQ
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.
I hope this information will help you get your bees through the winter.
Happy Beekeeping!
Charlie Thomas, SBA President