Hmm… It Might Be Time To Work!
Since about 2014 there has been at least 1 very nice week of weather in March. You know that week when you walk outside after winter wearing a t-shirt and comment about how warm it is? This is the time to start thinking about working your bees.
Ensure you have:
Mite Testing Equipment
Smoker and Fuel
Beesuit and Veil
Video for lighting a smoker
If you plan to use a ‘hard’ miticide (Apivar, Bayvarol, Apistan) these will have a longer application time than ‘soft’ miticides – 6-8 weeks. Try and get these strips into the hive as early as reasonably possible, ideally prior to about April 10th. An early treatment has the benefits of a lower bee population, less capped brood in the hive, and a tighter cluster, often resulting in better control.
Soft chemicals (oxalic acid, HopGuard, formic acid) will likely wait until April or later for application, depending on the weather.
Make sure that when it is warm enough your bees have a pollen substitute – either a patty placed on the hive when you do your mite treatment (depending on the treatment) or a dry powder in a pollen supplement feeder. This is especially important if you live near a cattle or dairy operation because the bees will be in the chop-bins if they do not have any other protein source. Keep your land-owners and neighbours happy!
If you have the chance to open the hive in March, go out with 2 people. Unwrap the winter wraps, work the bees, and then re-wrap the bees. It is still winter in Canada! The work you do will benefit your bees in the coming months, and your bees will thank you for your extra work to re-wrap them!
If opening your hives, this is your first chance in the season to evaluate the hives. It is probably still cool, so you have 30 seconds to see what you need – how many frames does the cluster cover? How many frames of brood do you see? How many frames of feed are there? Take a shaker test – how many mites are there? WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN – dates, work done, observations, and results. You will need this in November!
If you come across any dead hives, reverse the lid so there is no top entrance, and rotate your entrance reducer to close the bottom entrance. If your hive has died, now is not the time for a full evaluation. Take away any chance for your healthy hives to rob-out the dead hive before you get back to pick up the dead-out.
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