May 2021 Hive Update
Spring has sprung at the Honey Bee Research Centre. As temperatures began to rise, we kept a close eye on the hives. Once temperatures permitted, we removed the hive wrapping and commenced the spring inspection. This year, we are estimating hive losses between 5 to 10 percent.
Through the winter, our colonies ball together in a cluster to keep warm, vibrating their bodies and eating the honey they collected in the fall. As the temperatures get warmer, the cluster will disperse and foragers will venture out of the hive in search of food. The bees have already brought back pollen from willow and maple trees. They have now begun to collect dandelion pollen which is a large and important nectar source in the spring. The queen bees are already busy laying eggs to build the hive’s population up again for the new season.
With the earlier spell of warm weather some hives began to thrive early on. This earlier warm weather followed by a stretch of cold weather has lead to reduced food stores as well as a rise in the rate of swarming behaviour. This is in part because the thriving hives could not be supered in the cold weather. Also, bees require more food when temperatures are low so we needed to move fast and provide them with food before risking any losses due to starvation. As for the swarming, we have been catching swarms at our different yards and taking proactive steps by assessing the frames for any new Queen cells. For more info about swarm control check out our YouTube video on it here.
In all, the colonies are thriving, but extra steps have been needed to address problems mainly created by unseasonal temperatures. As beekeepers we know that adaptation is key to our success and we are grateful for the puzzle and education our bees provide.