Beekeeping Notes for January
The bees will mostly cluster up during the very cold days but the bees acclimate very well as long as they are healthy bees. The queens will lay some during warm days above 50 degrees and the bees will fly. Be watchful of Tracheal Mite issues; bees staggering around on the ground outside the hive; the wings appear to be deformed. The old timers used to make up grease patties for Tracheal mite control. A few dead bees outside the hive is not unusual. On a nice warm day above 50 degrees with little to no wind take a peek into the hive to see if the cluster is about the same size as previously and that there is still adequate stored or supplemental food source available. If the hive has died out, take it down and clean it up for use later. DO NOT feed any pollen/protein patties at this time of year. For screened bottom boards, be sure to remove the debris/inspection board and scrape it clean.
Now is the time to repair or build beekeeping equipment for use in the spring. Remove old black/dark foundation replace with new. It is best to wait until close to the time the new foundation is to be used to place the wax foundation into the frame. The wax foundation can become dried out and cracked and the bees will not work it. This is true for waxing of plastic foundation—wait until closer to the time that you need to put it into use.
Now is the time to order packages and Nuc’s and queens for spring—it may be too late. Most suppliers will have taken most orders by now for delivery in April and early May.