Reserves Of Strength - Setting up our Hives for a Strong Spring

Reserves Of Strength - Setting up our Hives for a Strong Spring

 "In nature nothing exists alone." — Rachel Carson; Silent Spring

Appalachia this spring has been quiet and thankfully, uneventful. Analogous to Rachel Carson’s quote, our surviving overwintered hives have enjoyed all the bounty the season has to offer. Blooming dandelions, daffodils, red maple, sweet gum and sumac were able to provide an uninterrupted supply of nectar and pollen. Last week’s hive inspections not only saw hexagonal cells filled with different colored pollen, but the beginnings of stored honey. Both are important to note: pollen, the protein source for larvae, triggers the queen into laying more eggs. More eggs means more bees and a strong hive produces more honey. Nectar in cells mean the bees are no longer living flower to mouth, but are storing honey for inclement weather.

For the last several years we had two apiaries for a total of fifty hives. Our home apiary has thirty hives. Our only out-yard had twenty. Due to the construction of a new development, we had to tear down and move our only out yard to a different location. Our new out-yard can only support twelve hives. The combination of both will provide a total of forty-two hives. Even with the loss of eight hives, we hope the warm spring and a dry summer will allow the bees unfettered access to flowering plants. The obvious goal is to meet the continued demand for our honey.

Nucs (six week old queens with her young daughters) occupy the new apiary. We have given them supers (boxes) of honey and pollen from hives which perished last fall or during the winter. Many of you discovered we had no honey to sell after Christmas. Saving honey supers for new arrivals is one of the reasons. We could have spun out this stored honey to maintain our inventory, giving the arriving spring nucs a diet of weak poisons such as corn or cane syrup, but the nutritional needs of our bees come first. Natural enzyme-rich honey from their fellow sisters who perished during the fall and winter will greatly benefit the young queens and their daughters.

Nothing exists alone in nature. One season of perished hives creates new life into the next. Our new queens and their offspring are not alone. The sweet benefits of honey passes from one generation to the next.

The attached photo was taken at dawn looking east to our home apiary on the first day of spring.