By Stacey Adair
Seasonal management at this time of year usually has mostly to do with getting your plan together for the upcoming season. Charlie gave us some good starters in his President’s message. Get your ideas on paper about how you would like to expand your apiary and the bees and equipment needed to do so. Also, think about equipment you may need later in the summer for extracting your honey. You may also want to think about applying for the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement grants to help you expand your apiary and buy equipment. The grant money for 2009 will not be awarded until September 2009, so start working on your application now with cost estimates, etc., and plan for your apiary expansion in 2010.
In the apiary you should take some time on these warmer days to take a look around the yard and look for any potential problems which may have occurred. Check the hive tops to make sure they are secure over the hives, check your entrance reducers to make sure they have been undisturbed by pests such as skunks, and clean up any debris that may have fallen around the hives in all this rain and high wind we have had. I would also suggest you check on their food stores. We had some very cold weather earlier than I can remember for the last few seasons, and the bees may have eaten more than you think. Win ter feeding may be needed for some of us, and we have suggested many ways in which you can do this. Just make sure your bees don’t starve before spring!
If you are planning to requeen, or make nucs to sell in the spring, you should make sure your equipment is in order, place your queen orders as soon as possible, and call Mike Studer to schedule your apiary inspection to receive your certificate for nuc sales. Mike is the only person who can do this for you, so please schedule this with him ASAP. He wants to inspect the parent colonies before splitting.
We should also be thinking about our plans for spring treatments. Fumigillan will need to be fed when bees start their spring build up, usually in February. The spring recommendation is 1 gallon of medicated syrup per hive. You should also consider mite treatments if you have had varroa problems. Apistan strips are available from John Gee, and have to remain in the colony for 42 days for full effectiveness. You will want to have all the strips removed before the spring honey flow, so the latest you should consider applying strips is mid-February. There are other alternative “softer” treat ments for spring use, such as formic acid. See which treatments suite your needs best, and apply according to label directions, and in plenty of time to remove before the spring honey flow.
As you are taking inventory on your equipment condition and needs, I would also ask that you consider potential items for the BCBA/Charlie Stewart auction we will have in March. If you have excess clean equipment that you are not going to use, please consider donating it to the auction. Also, since BCBA has become a non-profit organization, any donations you make to the auction can count as charitable contributions. If you are ordering new equipment, would you consider ordering an extra piece for our auction? We will have forms that you can fill out for your tax pur poses.
While you are checking your equipment for needed repairs, also please remember to check your honey supers which have been stored under moth crystals. You may need to add more crystals! If you have not replaced brood foun dation on a regular basis, this would be a good time to plan for that. The spring build up is a great time to drop new foundation into hives and pull out the old comb that may be full of harmful chemicals. The suggestion by many of our bee publications is to replace at least 3 frames of comb per year in each of the hive bodies, so that every 3 years the entire brood chamber would have been replaced. Clean the wax from your frames if you wish to re-use the frames, and burn the brood comb. The queen will prefer to lay in the older, dark comb, so pull the frames you want to cull, move some of the better frames out toward the edges of the box, and drop your new frames in the middle, alternating with drawn comb. And remember to feed while drawing out foundation.
Please come prepared to the meeting Monday with your questions for our panel. This is a great opportunity to address any questions or problems that may have arisen in your apiary, and others may have had the same experience, so it is great to share the information. See you there!