BEEKEEPER'S CALENDAR - March
MARCH AND THE BEES:
If the hive was low on honey going into winter, then March is the month they may starve out. They have probably moved all the way up in the hive and their overall population is very low due to normal die-outs throughout the winter. The bees are going to be flying more in March, and they will find pollen as the month passes. The queen will start laying at near full capacity in mid-March. The entire hive will begin to return to an almost normal operation now that winter is almost over. There will be cold snaps, but the bees will do fine as they begin to expand. Their need for food will rapidly increase, March is when many hives are lost due to starvation.
MARCH AND THE BEEKEEPER:
Continue emergency feeding if needed, and place frame or top feeders on the hive and feed 1:1 sugar water, one part sugar and one part water. Continue with the pollen patty feedings.
Inspect your hive! March will provide you with a few days when the temperature will rise to 50 degrees or higher. At this temperature you can look in the hive and pull out a few frames. Keep in mind that since there is not a heavy nectar flow, and since it is cooler, the bees might be a bit more aggressive. Beekeepers are stung more during these cold inspections than the rest of the year. So wear protective gear.
March is a great month to start feeding the pollen patties. Pollen patties truly do jump start the hive. It is highly recommended that you place pollen patties in your hives in March. The bottom board may contain dead, winter bees. They did their job, so play "Taps", salute them, and toss them in the yard for the mice and birds to enjoy. Remove entrance reducers and mouse guards as the traffic begins to build up at the entrance.
Remember that a quick, early start in brood raising also means that your hive strength will increase to the point of swarming much earlier. Remain attentive and reverse your brood chambers as required! This is extremely important as it gives more space for the queen to lay. Simply move the empty bottom brood chamber to the top. As another element of swarm prevention, late-March is the time that you will need to provide supers on your strongest hives. There will be an increasing amount of nectar gathered at this time, and the volume will increase as April approaches.
You'll be able to assess how many of your colonies have died out over the winter. Clean out these boxes and freeze the comb if you can.
March is the busiest month in hive equipment and bee sales. Everyone calls and wants their hive yesterday! Please do yourself a big favor and order your hives not later than January.