Deciding How to Expand Your Beehives



I look outside my window on this cold January day watching the snow fall and thinking of the bees. They should be clustered tightly, conserving warmth and moving only as necessary to access food. My attention turns to apiary planning.

Apiary Tasks in January?

Yes, there are things to consider for the apiary in the dead of winter. As I mentioned in a previous post, The Beekeeping Year Starts Now, this is the time to order honeybees for spring arrival. If you wait until it is time to install the bees, it is too late. Now is the time to pour a cup of tea (sweetened with honey of course) and outline apiary goals for the year.

Here at Five Feline Farm, we plan to more than double our existing three hives. One of the existing hives is quite weak going into winter. Although we are trying to support these bees with additional food, it is not expected to survive the winter. Which leaves us with two viable hives.

We need a plan to increase.

Historically Speaking

In our first four seasons as beekeepers, we have ordered packages from one supplier. The packages are produced in Florida and Georgia, then shipped in late April or early May. We pick up 3 lb. packages, drive them home and install in our empty hives. Having bees shipped from warmer states is the only way to obtain packages of honeybees. Over the past couple of years, we have had some difficulty getting these packages to thrive. Maybe the travel is too much of a shock for the colony or perhaps, just not good queens.

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