Beekeeping in Vermont...


More Feed Questions...

Joblin James writes:

Hi Mike,
We have four hives in Shelburne. I went to inspect them and assumed we should feed because they didn't start out with a huge amount for the winter, but they all looked in pretty good shape; honey, brood, and lots of activity. But I'm wondering, with these warm days and they're so active and I wouldn't think there's much nectar to be found (or is there?) Should we feed anyway? Thanks, Joplin

Pollen started coming in on March 12, way ahead of the normal date. I found it interesting that the first loads were pale yellow, and I assume from soft maple. This isn't the usual first pollen available, as I normally see olive colored Speckled Alder pollen, and a whitish pollen with flaky bits on the surface.

Along with this maple pollen is surely some incoming nectar. I'm seeing a little comb whitening, and what looks like new nectar in the upper corners of brood frames. I'm also seeing many colonies that have more than enough honey to last until the dandelion/fruit bloom.

I never feed "just in case". With hundreds of colonies to manage, feeding bees is like feeding teenaged boys. They all have a hollow leg and can eat me out of house and home. Rather than throwing a full feeder on them and hoping they're okay, you should check on them once a week. If they really do get light on stores, then feed at that point. If they
don't need it don't feed it.

Bees will swarm with their broodnest full of syrup or nectar...doesn't matter to them.

- Mike

- Mike Palmer keeps bees at French Hill Apiaries in St. Albans. We are grateful that he has agreed to answer questions on beekeeping in Vermont, his workload permitting. VBA Members: Ask Mike your question with this form. (Requires you to login to the site.) We'll post the best questions and answers here as regularly as possible. (Personal responses to questions will not be possible.)