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First Visit

First Visit

The first visit to your honey bee yard as winter ends is critical to the health and success of your colonies. During this visit, beekeepers should be looking for the following:

  • The Importance of the First Visit to Honey Bees as Winter Ends

    The first visit to your honey bee yard as winter ends is critical to the health and success of your colonies. During this visit, beekeepers should be looking for:

    • The number of surviving hives
    • The size and activity level of the bees
    • The amount of food resources available to the bees
    • The condition of the yard and hives

    By evaluating these factors, beekeepers can make informed decisions about how to manage their colonies and ensure their health and productivity in the coming season.

  • Hive Evaluation

    During our next visit, we will conduct a thorough hive evaluation to assess the health and condition of your colonies. This visit will not be looking at the brood as it is too cold:

    • Removing the hive top to inspect the cluster size and activity level of the bees
    • Evaluating the amount of food resources available by tipping the hive and checking the honey frames. Be sure not to disrupt the cluster when doing this. Put a frame of honey next to the cluster if possible.
    • Checking for signs of disease and pest infestation. As we are not opening the cluster, this will be for things like Nosema stain.
    • Assessing the overall condition of the hive and equipment
    • Recording all data in your physical notes and in the hive management application.

    If the cluster size is small or the bees are low on honey resources, beekeepers should consider giving pollen patties to provide additional nutrition and support for their colonies. If you are expanding or selling brood, feed all but the extra large ones.

  • Available Feed

    This will be a simple look on the honey frames to see how much honey is available or if you can tip the hive if you did not wrap. As we will be feeding all hives with a thin feed, this is more for planning your next visit. If a hive is really low, you may want to add a honey pollen patty. You should use your pollen and honey or thick sugar paste for this. Honey if you are in a clean area, sugar if you are not.

  • Yard and Hive Condition

    Here, we are looking to assess the general condition of the yard and equipment, including the bear fence, hive condition, fence function and other factors that could impact the health and productivity of your colonies. While there may be limitations to what you can do during the first visit due to snow or other factors, assessing these conditions can help you plan for future visits and ensure that your colonies have the best chance of success.

The information gathered during the first visit will help beekeepers plan their next visit and manage their colonies effectively. Additionally, beekeepers should consider sustainable and natural beekeeping practices, such as organic methods, avoiding pesticides, and promoting biodiversity, to promote the health and productivity of their colonies. It is important to note that the use of pesticides and other chemicals can harm not only the bees but also the environment in which they live.

Beekeepers should also be aware of the regulations and guidelines set by their local government regarding beekeeping. These regulations may include requirements for hive placement, hive management, and beekeeper registration. By following these regulations, beekeepers can ensure the safety of their colonies and prevent any legal issues.

In conclusion, the first visit to honey bees as winter ends is critical for beekeepers to assess hive survival, food resources, and overall hive condition. Beekeepers should conduct a thorough hive evaluation, including hive top removal, cluster size evaluation, and tipping the hive to assess food resources. If the cluster is small or low on honey resources, pollen patties should be given. It is also important for beekeepers to practice sustainable and natural beekeeping methods and follow local regulations to promote the health and longevity of their bee colonies.

Last Update Febuary 23, 2023

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