Every season brings its own set of challenges and every year is typically different from the last.
One most urgent subject we are the most adamant about preaching this time of year is how seriously we are opposed to chemical lawn treatments and insecticide sprays. CHEMICALS KILL! No matter what you have been told; Dandelions are NOT your enemy!
THE NEED FOR FEED
Just like humans, honey bees are anxious to get out and experience the abundance of Springtime freshness. Just like humans they crave a fresh earthy meal. Dandelions, crocus, fruit trees and other kinds of flowering plants are life-sustaining food sources for these tiny insects who have also been cooped up all winter long. They need “clean” food!
A colony needs an ample amount of honey in store going into winter in order for them to make it through to spring until flowers begin to appear. We try to be extra careful by leaving as much honey as we believe they need, even if it means leaving a honey super on top of their hive. The honey that they produce is far more healthy for them than any sugar supplement otherwise needed. However, it is common practice for beekeepers to supplement nutrition by feeding syrup and/or patties made with mixtures of table sugar and water.
If outside temperatures are below 40 degrees at night, sugar patties are made. A sugar patty will consist of organic sugar (or table sugar if organic is not available) mixed with just enough water to hold it together. We will put this mixture into a one gallon size Ziplock bag with two small 1″ X 1″ X 4″ chunks of wood placed inside and on what will become the bottom side of the bag. This will keep the bees from suffocating underneath. When we place the bag on top of the hive frames, we will cut slits into the bag so the bees have access to the sugar patty. I have also added one drop of peppermint essential oil to this mixture when I believe they need a little help stimulating their appetite. I also believe that it helps ward off mites.
When temperatures are above 40 degrees at night, we may feed sugar syrup. Early in the Spring we may feed the bees a 2:1 ratio, sugar to water to give them a bit of a boost. If they are still taking it in as flowers begin to bloom, we will cut it back to a 1:1 ratio.
We stop feeding as soon as we see the obvious nectar flow. Meaning the bees are on all nearby blossoms and they slow or stop consuming the syrup.