Weird Winter, Weird Spring: Some Thoughts On Beehive Management

Reader Contribution by Kim Flottum
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We did everything right this year to prepare our bees for a typical winter in northeast Ohio, and, like most of the U. S., winter wasn’t typical. It wasn’t too cold for too long. Snow didn’t pile up, the wind didn’t blow…it was a wuss of a winter.

Well now. The weather may have made a mess of my plans, but the bees took full advantage of how mild and easy and the last few months have been. Because of all the wrapping and protection, the extra food we left on, and the kick-butt queens we put in last year…all of our colonies are strong and healthy right now…late March…but as good as it is, there could be some unforeseen problems coming up….

For instance…

If the bee population grows early, and the plants of spring grow early and the bees and the plants do well together because of the early warm weather…all about, or at least 3 weeks early…what happens in the middle of summer. The bees don’t quit you know…they just keep raising brood. But if the mid summer flowers are already gone…well…think about that. What do they eat?

Maybe…maybe they eat mid summer flowers in early summer… well, you see the problem. At some point the mixup is going to catch up with lots of bees and not enough flowers to feed on. That will be a problem if there are lots of hungry bees and not enough to feed them…or, if they already harvested a ton of honey but you got greedy and harvested it from them….see the problem?

I’ve never seen this sort of spring, and since we don’t know if the rest of summer is going to be as warm, warmer, cool, cooler….you gotta pay attention to what’s going on inside those boxes…all summer long.

What to do….

Keep checking for food all summer long…that’s the food they stored, and the food available outside. Is the progression of bloom ‘typical’ in terms of sequence…or, will it pile up…like it is right now outside my office…the plants that are supposed to bloom from late March to Late April are all, repeat ALL blooming right now…dandelions, crabapples, redbuds, fruit trees, willows, pears, apricots, early, mid and late spring bulbs, the honeysuckle is budding, and so is the locust…we are squeezing 10 – 12 weeks of bloom into a month or less…it’s gonna be a crazy year. Be Prepared.