After a dose of true winter coldness and boldness a few weeks ago, we have once again settled back into the tropics here at the intersection of 47 degrees north and 96 degrees west. This week marked the return of the true ten hours of daylight for our area. What normally happens now in winter in the hive is for the queen to begin laying some brood for the spring buildup which will start to replace the dead worker bees that have moved on to greener pastures. Some of the bee experts at the University of Minnesota are thinking because the winter has been so mild, that many hives are going to brood up fast, pedal to the metal quickly, instead of the normal slow transition into spring. If this is the case, hives may be in jeopardy of eating themselves out of house and home before the real spring arrives.
The photo taken today on the right shows one of our single nuc boxes which has a new fall 2011 queen. From the image you can see that major housecleaning and cell scrubbing is going on inside the hive as debris gets pushed to the curbside. This is an indication that this queen means business about raising a colony and they may need some additional nourishment.
What most beekeepers would do in a situation like this would be to put on a pollen supplement patty. Most of the patties sold to beekeepers are a recipe of corn syrup, white granulated table sugar, flour and odd pollen collected from who knows where.
We do not buy the over the counter pollen patties anymore. Last fall, we made a point to collect and preserve our own local strain of pollen and put honey aside for the spring to make our own version of a high protein meal deal for the bees. It will not be too fancy, just a wholesome mix of local pollen and crystallized honey blended together and served a la carte on the hives top bar. We’re keeping it fresh and local for our bees. Not all of the hives will be served, it’s only the ones that are showing us this cleaning frenzy at their lower entrance that will get the caloric bump in grub. Right now it appears that our wintered over nucs of young queens are the only ones chompin’ at the bit with a major dose of cabin fever.
The other hives are all still alive and appeared clustered somewhere in the center of their palaces, continuing their long winter naps in a winter that never was.