Can you believe a 60-degree day in January? Well get ready for the temps to drop again. That is Washington weather for you. Poor bees. It is hard enough to get through the winter. I hope this month you are giving your bees dried sugar and winter pollen patties. Dried sugar can be given to the bees in two ways. First, ‘Mountain Camp’ is putting dry sugar on newspaper on top of the top frames. If you need to add more later, place another piece of newspaper on top of the old sugar and add more sugar on top of that. The second method is what I use: put dry sugar on top of the inner cover. I like to make sure the notch is on the underside, so not to tempt robbers. But I do put the winter pollen patty on top of the top frames. Besides this you should go through the bottom entrance and use your J- Hook tool to scrape out the dead. I do this at least once a month during the fall and winter. Dead bees stink! Bees don’t poop inside the hive and will use about every 50-degree day to go outside to do it.
Bees are bringing in hazelnut, willow, cedar and alder pollen. That is a good sign, because they have usually exhausted all the bee bread they had stored. Bees like us need carbs and protein. Pollen is the protein and nectar is the carbohydrate. It will be a few months before the nectar is available.
Beeks will be scraping and repairing equipment in the next few months. When it warms up a bit, painting is done at least 2 weeks before introduction of bees.
Our two beginning bee classes are online. Check the PSBA website calendar for dates in March. Make sure to register soon as the classes fill up fast. There are 13 Master Beekeepers in the state of Washington and our teachers, Dawn Beck and Tracy Klein are both Masters. One class is in person at the Arboretum and one is an online class. Pick which works for you.
Our meetings are now hybrid. The in-person classes are at the Arboretum and the Center for Urban Horticulture. Check the website calendar for dates and times. And if you are a Newbee, make sure to come at 6:30pm instead of 7 for the beginners instruction by Tracy Klein. The February and March meeting will feature our bee package vendors. This is a great opportunity to hear how packages are made up in California after the almond pollination is over.
There are great speakers coming in 2024. Lots to learn for new and intermediate Beeks! Make sure in this down time you are reading books and getting started on your new journey. I recommend Beekeeping for Dummies and The Beekeepers’ Handbook by Diane Sammataro. Both can be found at Mann Lake Bees online. It is a good catalog to investigate all that is available for starting your new venture.
Until next time, bee kind,
Master Beekeeper U of Montana