It gives the bees something to do as daylight lengthens and begins the gearing up of bee populations in our area for the Spring flow. About the middle of this month (January), I'll start open feeding pollen substitute and look for warm enough days to put a pollen substitute patty on the hives. By mid February, our average daily high temperature goes above 50Â°F, and the bees really start flying. Usually this is 2-3 weeks before our earliest large pollen supplier (red maple) has bloomed. When the bees stop taking the open feed pollen substitute, I know the maples are producing. Really good sources of nectar are about a month behind the red maple bloom. Our location has beautiful Spring blooms, but nectar flow is stretched out over an extended bloom period. Usually tulip poplars provide us with the surplus nectar/honey we are likely to be able to take. If hives are not strong at this time, we may miss the flow and the bees will bring in enough to survive until the Summer dearth, but not produce a surplus. (Unless like last year in and around our city, the Spring was almost perfect, and the bees gathered surplus nectar from plants other than the tulip poplar.)
In summary, all beekeeping is local and it's fun to play with the bees even when we shouldn't go into the hives.
I put candy boards on over the weekend (54 degrees on Friday). The Russian hives were clustered, the Italian's were clustered, but the dag-gone swarm I picked up last year in town let me know that they did not appreciate being bothered, despite the treat I gave them.....ungrateful lil boogers.
If I fed now, I would have to continue feeding for 3 months until the Spring forage was available. In this area, beeks are warned against feeding 2 to 1 syrup at this time. It can stimulate the colony to build up too much. If we have a spell of (bee and beek) confining weather the larger colony may have insufficient stores and starve. I hefted my hives yesterday and all seemed OK. Barbarian (UK)
I hefted my hives yesterday and all seemed OK. Barbarian (UK)
I think??? there are several good points on this thread.... 1) hefting or distinguishing light from heavy hives is an essential first step for determining some feeding regimen and 2) timing of feeding is also a consideration.
in regards to #2 since the nectar gathering season is short here I like to boost hive population somewhat prior to the onset of the first bloom to increase honey production (+the potential quantity of brood for splitting and queen rearing purposes).