We had one of the mildest winters on record here in Ontario. As a result, our bees have had a pleasant winter to deal with. They went into winter with lots of honey stored up, so have faired well. We have lost only one hive this year. Our energies over the winter were directed towards building hive boxes, frames and bottom boards for spring. My husband Chuck has become very skilled at wood working and I am very grateful for all of his efforts.
We have also began making candles this winter, it has been very enjoyable. It helps to pass the winter months. Our focus now is on feeding, we have checked each hive for weight, this allows us to know which hives may be low on honey stores and which seem to have a more. The weight of a hive in spring can tell us a lot.
Over the past few weeks, the temperatures have ranged from +15- to -11 during the day, a real roller coaster. What is important though is what are the temperatures at night, they are still cool, ranging from -12 to +2. The bees will remain clustered when the temps are cold, so we really don’t open up the hives at this time. If we need to feed, we will give them candy board, placing it above the inner cover, we use a rim between the inner cover and the lid, that way they have room to come up and take the candy board freely.
On warmer days the bees are out flying, gathering water mainly. They bring the water back to the hive to help dissolve the honey that is crystalized. Bees are so clever. I watch them walk along the ground, gathering water from the spring melt off. Willow and sugar maple are the first source of nectar available, they are just starting to bud now. In a few weeks it will be the bees main focus, bringing the pollen back to the hive. Brood rearing will increase; the queen will increase the amount of eggs she lays daily dramatically.
It an exciting time for the beekeeper. It signals renewed life, it signals continuity. I can’t explain what it is like to hear the buzzing of bees on their first flight of spring. It is such a peaceful sound, it speaks to my heart. It awakens in me all of the pleasures of spring. It awakens an energy, a vibrancy that is lacking in the winter. It awakens joy, it celebrates new life.