Despite the polar vortex that has embraced much of Canada this month, some bees may have experienced warm weather spells since January 1 and this could have triggered them to initiate a small brood nest.
For Alberta this could be especially true south of Red Deer, in chinook territory. The thing to know is that when it gets cold again, the bee cluster will contract to keep the queen warm - at the expense of the brood.
Also - the bees age much more quickly in the hive once brood-rearing begins. This is a common cause of winter loss that's often mistaken for starvation.
If you find you have lost your bees when the weather warms, look at the comb for a ring or patches of capped cells in the cluster area. This is a sign of premature brood rearing.
In terms of a remedy, consider using a queen strain that is better suited or acclimatized for your climate.
If you have any questions on this or other issues, please contact Hiveworld.ca at any time.
Every province and city has different regulations, but most require all or at least one of these. Beekeeping falls under agriculture and for important reasons. The government sets out regulations for the beekeeping industry, monitors disease and supports beekeepers with current information and inspections as needed. Check your provincial and municipal government websites to see what is required.
Bees that overwinter live almost entirely inside the hive. Bees usually only leave for cleansing flights on days when temperatures are above 14°C. It is risky leaving the hive on days less than this because their wings can freeze at 10°C, and they risk not making it back to the hive.
COVID and beekeeping in 2021. There may still be some delays with shipping bees and equipment, but it shouldn’t be as extreme as it was in 2020 due to the air travel restrictions. Hopefully more live bees will be coming through from New Zealand for early spring for most companies as planned.