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2nd Year Beekeeping

Welcome to the NEW 2nd Year Beekeeping Blog. For those who have sucessfully kept a hive going through the winter we will be here to help you keep your hive thriving through it's second year.

El Niño has brought in warmer-than-normal temperatures for much of the United States. If the weather sticks to this trend, we will continue seeing these warm days and our girls out flying. Bees are typically confined to their hives as they are unable to fly with temperatures below 50 degrees F. Warmer temperatures allow them to go on cleansing flights to release their bodily waste. These mild temperatures also provide the opportunity for the worker bees to maintain a clean hive by removing debris and any bees that die throughout winter. As the bees cleanse their nest to sustain a healthy place to raise brood, beekeepers must be observant of their honey stores and provide an emergency feed if needed. These warmer days provide the perfect opportunity to open the hive and provide the feed the bees will need to survive.

One of the unexpected findings beekeepers experience in the spring is a colony that has starved when there is plenty of honey stored in the frames. Cold temperatures cause the bees to cluster. The colder the temperatures, the tighter the cluster gets. Frames of honey on the outskirts of the hive or above the cluster will go untouched on frigid days because the bees are unable to break cluster to feed. Keep this in mind when applying an emergency feed. Hive top feeders and frame feeders seem like the best option but they require the bees to break cluster in order to draw from the feeder. A better choice would be fondant or using a candy board.

Fondant for bees is very similar to that used on cakes but lacks the cornstarch that many cake recipes require. Fondant is soft and pliable, making it easy to form and place directly onto the frames. Your bees will be able to cluster around the fondant, consume the feed they need, and fondant will absorb hive moisture that can be dangerous to your colony.

You can also make your own sugar candy and pour into a candy board or use our wintering inner cover (8 Frame or 10 Frame)
. Let the candy set, and then place onto your hive, above the cluster. The candy is inverted so it is easily accessible for the bees. The hardened candy uses hive moisture to soften the mixture so the bees can easily extract the feed they need. Our wintering inner cover provides a deep cavity for the candy to settle into or use the Homasote insulation to soak up hive moisture. Mix in pollen/pollen substitute or a feed stimulant to increase hive health for either emergency feed you intend to use.

Your colony is reliant upon the food stores it had built up leading into winter; if they lack the ability to replenish what has already been consumed, they will starve. Beekeepers must be diligent in tracking their food supplies. Add the proper emergency feed to keep your hives alive.