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March 2016 - Spring Checkup

Greetings from your WCBA president. My intent is to give pertinent beekeeping tips to you each month
so that you will be able to plan the work that needs to be accomplished to keep your bees healthy,
strong and productive. These tips are based on the timeline and the way I keep bees.

March 2, 2016, where is the time going? This is the time of the year to get serious about your bees. If
you didn’t get to the bee yard last month you need to go now. You should see activity during the day at
the entrance of your hives. Continue to feed those colonies that need help (i.e., don’t have stores left).
The girls should be bringing in pollen during the day. If not then it may be necessary to provide a source
of pollen or a pollen substitute. Now is also the time to conduct your first inspection of the brood nest.
This should be done during warm weather and the warmer time of the day (i.e., when temperatures
above 50 degrees). The queen should be increasing the brood population. This will ramp up the hive
population and get the hive ready for the first nectar flow in April. This increase in population will
increase the food demand, so re-consider what stores the hive has as the population increases and be
prepared to feed if necessary.

Now is the time to evaluate your queens and if necessary to plan the replacement of any poorly
performing queens. A good queen will lay between 2,500 and 1,500 eggs per day (approximately 1/2 of
a deep frame) with a nice dense pattern. The drone population should be increasing in the hive as well.
Remember, all the drones get booted before winter. Any drones you find are from this year. The hives
need drones for fertilizing new queens, so the drone populations are loosely tied to swarming.
Accordingly keep an eye out for drones. If you see lots of drones you might also look for queen cells,
which can indicate an impending swarm. Swarms typically don’t happen until after Easter, but you never
know.

Back in the shop, continue to prepare new hive parts and clean up dead colonies, paint and repair old
hives. You should have all the woodware you need for splits and any new bees that were ordered.
Speaking of which, new bees should be on order by now. If not you must get them ordered asap and it
might already be too late so don’t miss out. If you have everything ready, good for you.
Do you want to learn more about beekeeping and share your experiences with bees? Then attend our
club meetings where seasoned and new beekeepers share their knowledge and experiences. Come and
join us, we would love to meet you, assist and help you with your bees, and learn about your
experiences with bees.

Howard “Howdy” Martsolf
WCBA President