It’s spring…but in northern Alberta, we are still waiting patiently for it to start! Some people are spring feeding already, but here, we are still waiting for warmer weather and highs of at least 5°C.
So while you wait to get started this season, it’s a good time to take online courses, assemble frames or replace any equipment you may need for the 2020 season. It’s also a good time to paint your boxes or finish them in any way you want.
For those of you who are feeling rusty or are new to beekeeping (congrats!), here are some tips on assembling your hive(s) this spring.
First off, make sure you choose a good spot for your hive. Two important things to consider when choosing a spot: 1. You need an area that gets sun 2. make sure it’s sheltered from the northwest wind.
Spring hive assembly: You only need the hive stand, bottom board, 1 brood box (with frames), inner cover and the telescoping lid. That's all the items you need to begin in the spring. This is what you would add your nuc frames to.
Complete hive assembly for main flow: Assembled from bottom to top: Hive stand, bottom board and entrance reducer, brood boxes, queen excluder, auto-extract super or other honey collecting boxes, inner cover, ventilation box and telescoping lid.
There are two reasons to use a hive stand:
1. It keeps the bottom of the hive away from water and the ground so that it doesn’t rot.
2. Raising the hive also makes it easier for you to check on your hive without having to bend over too much.
Entrance reducers keep other critters out, while also helping the bees defend the their hive by having a smaller entrance for enemies to get in (like wasps).
Queen excluders are important to use during the beekeeping season. They help you keep your queen out of the honey box so you don’t accidentally squish her on inspecting or removing honey. We usually place a queen excluder on during the main flow.
We often recommend using a smaller super box on top because when the honey comes in it can get very heavy. Large supers can weigh 80lbs.
Frames are a personal decision for many beekeepers. Here is the run down of the different frames you can choose from and why.
Spring feeding reminder: Use a 1:1 ratio of water and sugar. Spring feeding is to boost, not overfeed. Overfeeding can cause the bees to become honey locked with no empty cells for the queen to lay in. The goal is to create brood, which will be your new bees for the spring as the old, overwintered bees die off.
We hope everyone is staying home and keeping healthy. We know the beekeeping season is underway in BC, and will arrive in Alberta soon. Although our Edmonton store is not open for regular visits, we are still here to help with all of your beekeeping needs and questions. You can arrange for front door pick-ups directly with Hank. You can still order nucs and hives. Shop online, email us at email@example.com or call 587-881-0244 anytime, we are open and here to help!
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What should you do if your bees have died? First thing you should do is look at your hive and see if you can detect any moisture, disease or anything else that may have caused your colonies demise. Do your best to take any samples you need, photos and get a second opinion from a fellow beekeeper, mentor or us!