February Inside the Hive

Feb 4, 2018 by

February Inside the Hive

February Inside The

David Hocutt


Fortunately we have had a break from the bitter cold weather.  Probably more cold weather to come, but I was very happy to have an opportunity to take a quick peek inside a number of hives. I have been experimenting with different configurations of wintering hives trying to determine if one configuration is an improvement over any of the others.

Most of my hives are two deep bodies and one medium body.  Most of them are felt paper wrapped and top insulated.  For experimental purposes some hives are just wrapped, some are just top insulated and some are neither insulated nor wrapped. The bees in the wrapped and insulated hives are quite active.  The most active hive I currently have is a wrapped single deep.  When I first saw this, I had a hard time accepting it.  Upon checking the temperature inside the hive body, I found it to be nearly four degrees warmer than any other hive. Remarkably, they still have a significant amount of honey stores and a sugar board to get them through the rest of the winter. Gauging by the activity level, I will need to keep a close eye on this hive to ensure it does not starve.

The queen inside the hive is ramping up the number of eggs she is laying daily and cluster sizes either already are or will very soon begin increasing in size.  As this happens the bees will begin to consume more and more of their stores, honey and bee bread.  This stored pollen will be the bee’s protein source as they attempt to raise more and more brood.  During the next few weeks it is critical the bees do not empty their stores and starve. There needs to be enough food inside the hive and accessible to the cluster to feed every bee all of the time.

As the bees consume honey, they will generate moisture.  You can usually check the moisture level by looking at the inside of the top cover. A small amount of moisture is okay, but if it is dripping wet you should add more ventilation to the hive. Maybe slip a penny or a popsicle stick in between where the inner and outer covers touch.

During warmer days, the bees will shift the location of the cluster to remain in contact with their food supply. The beekeeper is responsible to make certain food is either in contact with the cluster or very near the cluster. The bees will take care of the rest. They can generate a remarkable amount of heat providing they have enough nutrition.   Be very careful not to disturb the cluster. You do not want the bees to break into multiple smaller clusters.  One big cluster handles colder temperatures better than two or more small ones.

There could be some fresh pollen available by the last week in February.  This will cause a great boost in the number of eggs the queen is laying daily. I know that is hard to believe, but according to my notes, bees were bringing in light green pollen the last week of February last year.  Be on the lookout for this on warmer days.

Spring is in sight, there is happiness inside the hive.

David Hocutt





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