In beekeeping timing is everything! There is no right or wrong in beekeeping and no one ever stops learning when working with bees – every season/year is different.
However, the biggest mistake one can make in beekeeping is losing track of time or not paying attention to personal schedules, bee schedules or just the weather forecast.
This weekend was a good example. I knew I had to check on the food supply for the bees and I had some pollen patties ready to be added. Good thing I checked the weather forecast, this week weather has been more spring like and I was surprised to see snow in the forecast for Sunday.
I ended up looking at all my colonies on Saturday, added pollen patties, made sure they had plenty of dry sugar on the inner cover and I cleaned out the entrances and bottom boards.
The sun was out and it was a mild February afternoon.
Boy was the forecast right, today I would not have been able to open the boxes at all. During our 12 years in the Pacific Northwest I have not seen that much snow on the ground.
Of course, this is just one example of making sure you get the timing right. If the bees run out of food they will die within a very short amount of time. So don’t put off important tasks like this. Always stay on schedule!
Same is true with your management throughout the year. For example, come spring you want to keep an eye on your colonies and prevent any swarming. If you inspect your hives at least every 7-10 days during swarming season you can find and remove any swarm cells. If you skip one of your inspections during this time you might lose half of your bees and if your new queen does not return from her mating flight you might have to purchase a new one.
I am not suggesting to open up your hives all the time, but frequent inspections can certainly help minimize bigger problems like swarming or going queenless for too long.
Once you become a beekeeper you need to include the bees in your already busy schedule, but don’t worry, it is a fun and rewarding hobby.