Happy Beekeeping!!! I hope your hives are all doing well. Your bees should have started raising some brood and gathering pollen. As usual, Texas is experiencing its crazy weather. These cold and warm weather spells can be hard on your hives and result in starvation. Now is the time of year to build, repair equipment, and order queens and Nucs. Many suppliers sell out very early.
If you don't like the weather in Texas just wait five minutes. It'll change. We've had some great weather lately but it is turning into a nasty winter storm. Some tips that can help your hives survive these intense cold spells is; moving them closer to each other (to share heat), or at the very least set up some sort of wind block to shelter them. Make sure screened bottom boards are closed off and entrances reducers are in place. If your hives are really strong and well fed you should not have too much to be worried about, but it never hurts to be cautious!
Please remember that beekeeping is entirely regional. However, beekeeping management is similar during the different seasons of the year regardless of location. This month's tips are for the beekeepers who are experiencing temperatures up to 60º Fahrenheit during the day and 15º-50º during the night. For Texas this is February, for other states or countries this could be October. Spring, summer, and winter also vary in lengths depending on the location.
Now for some Tips!!!
1. Feed pollen to help hives build up for early splitting.
2. Keep an eye on your Varro and manage your hive accordingly
3. Remove entrance reducers near the end of the month if the weather warms up and bee activity indicates congestion at the hive entrance.
4. Don't let your bees starve. If your hive has less than 20 pounds of honey, feed sugar syrup. If it is very cold you may want to feed a fondant as they will not be able to reach the syrup. Bees can starve easily during this month because of the drastic weather fluctuations. During the warm spells they will consume large amounts of stored honey to produce brood. If they do not have enough stores when the cold spells come, they can starve.
5. Very important! Pre-order queens and Nucs as they sell out early. It is preferable to get your Nucs as early as possible, suppliers sell out quickly and the early dates are always the first to go.
6. As the weather warms up, empty frames of comb that were formally full of food can be rotated in between the frames of brood. This forces the queen to lay in the comb, expanding the brood nest. Be careful! Do not rotate too many frames into the brood circle as it could cause the brood to chill. In cold weather bees cannot even move one frame over to retrieve the life saving honey.