February is another slow month for the beekeeper and your hives. It’s nearly the same as January, but towards the end of the month, your bees may begin to increase in activity.
The bee cluster will be in the top brood chamber. The queen may start to lay eggs in a small grouping late in the month, if temperatures moderate sufficiently. The grouping will be small and in the center of the cluster, but it will grow as the season progresses.
The size of the brood cluster depends directly on temperature; as it gets warmer, the bees inside the hive are able to move around and utilize their honey stores. During late February, the bees may consume 1 to 2 pounds per day and increased activity in and around your hives may become apparent.
It's another fairly slow month for the beekeeper, unless a lot of equipment repair is needed. Identify your needs for the upcoming season (i.e. number of supers, frames, bee packages) and order everything with plenty of time to pick up, assemble and paint in advance. It’s no fun to put bees in a hive that has wet paint.
Have your beekeeping goals for the year in mind.
How many hives, nuc’s, splits and package’s will I need for spring?
Do I need to order a replacement queen?
What equipment will need to be repaired or replaced?
If I am expanding my hive count, what equipment will I need to add?
What is my planned cost/budget for the year?
Check each hive entrance for blockage and make sure the hives have enough honey to survive until spring. Either carefully lift the hive and see if it feels heavy, or quickly check the hive on a warm, calm day when the bees are flying. Do not remove any frames, but if it's necessary, start emergency feeding.
If you do begin to feed the hive, continue until spring when there are plenty of good nectar sources.
You can feed them frames of honey from a healthy hive. Sugar boards are a very good option as well, but it’s still too cold to feed syrup.
Attend your local bee club meetings and read, read, read!
Estimated time needed: 1 hour*
*Time estimates do not include equipment repair and cleaning or honey extraction.
Order bees, nucs and queens (if you haven't already)
Check the hive food stores
Make sure all equipment is ready and painted for bees
Attend your local bee club meetings or workshops
Network with local beekeepers to learn what they're doing that works
Other Beekeeping Considerations
Weather is the ultimate calendar when taking care of bees. Depending on the weather and your bee type, the time frame for activities should be adjusted earlier or later as necessary. You will have more success adapting to the bee’s schedule, rather than them adapting to yours.
Beekeepers are many and varied; some choose a hands off approach, while some are very hands on. Some choose to medicate and others are using other Integrated Pest Management (IPM) methods which do not include medication. Whatever your preference, you can and should adapt this calendar to fit your needs.
Thank you for keeping bees, and let us know if you have any questions regarding your hive. We’re always happy to help.
LOOKING AHEAD TO NEXT MONTH?