We finished up the North Carolina State Beekeeper’s Association (NCSBA) spring meeting yesterday in New Bern. I learned more in those three days than I have any chance of ever remembering, but at least I took copious notes.
Nancy Ruppert, state inspector for the Sandhills region, led a workshop on “Late Winter/Early Spring Management” and reminded me that the most likely time for a colony to starve is right now. There is pollen available to them, but no nectar – and the queen is (or should be) laying eggs like a madwoman, beginning to build up colony strength for the spring honey flow. So the bees are flying, nursing, doing a ton of work, but they don’t have enough carbohydrates (nectar/honey) to do it with. Nancy’s specific simile was “they should be eating like teenage boys.” Wow. I’ve had teenage boys. That’s some serious stuff right there.
Okay, I’m convinced. I was going to wait until the end of March or beginning of April to start regular inspections – I mean, it could still freeze, or even snow, so it’s not like winter is “over” yet. But between Nancy and Master Beekeeper Tia, I was persuaded to go have a look now. Big agenda items – give them the food that they need to get through this buildup, and make sure they have enough room so they don’t feel pressured to swarm.
I also got to test out my new hive stand that the Hubs built for me last week.