At the time of writing it is still raining and no sign yet of any prolonged dry spell. Talking with a farmer yesterday there is limited time now for fields to dry out to enable them to sow spring crops. Spring bean falls into this category which is often in the ground by this time. So there may be limited agricultural forage available for our bees this season, especially as there is less oil seed rape around this year.
March is the danger month for our bees as they may run out of stores before they can forage for the first nectar flow. Do check and heft your hives and feed fondant to tie them over. If fondant is not available then soak a bag of white sugar in warm water for a few minutes and place the bag over a feed hole, making a small hole in the bag to allow bees access to the mixture. This is an extreme remedy but it is too cold as yet to feed them syrup in contact or tray feeders. If the outside temperature goes above 10c then bees are more interested taking syrup down. Remember, dead bees don’t make much honey!
Next week I intend to give Vitafeed to my bees. This is a protein powder and hopefully it will stimulate brood production. Looking at the rape near to my bees I think it will flower by mid April so stimulating the colony soon should provide a larger workforce when the rape is in flower. This powder is applied two or three times over the coming weeks to provide protein when bees are confined to the hive when bad weather prevents foraging.
Over the winter I have spent a lot of time maintaining my equipment in readiness for the coming season. New brood frames are partially assembled; the wax foundation will be added just before they are needed. Putting foundation in too early may let the wax buckle or be damaged or go stale before use.
Beetradex is just a week away at Stoneleigh and is a great opportunity to bag a bargain. A plug for the use of nucs. They are a great way to overwinter bees to make up for winter losses. At Beetradex there are various suppliers where nucs can be picked up at a good price. For more information on nucs see the article on our website:
Enjoy your beekeeping for the coming season.