I loathe January. If January were a vegetable, it would be cauliflower except unlike cauliflower January can’t be redeemed with a cheese sauce. New Year’s Day is an awful. Everyone is tired because they stayed up too late. January is when everyone starts overly ambitious resolutions to exercise more and drink kale smoothies for breakfast. January is also a terrible month if you are a beekeeper. The weather is too cold to open the hives. You just have to hope that all your fall preparations are working and you don’t have a pile of dead bees at the bottom of the hive.
February brings with it signs of hope. To start with, February has a festive holiday. Even if you are not romantically involved with someone, the red and pink decorations along with the discounts on high end chocolate make Valentine’s Day a respectable holiday. My neighbor has a large patch of winter aconite that blooms profusely in mid February. The bright yellow is a welcome shot of color. By late February, the crocuses start to show. In northern Kentucky, we can count on February to bring a few days with mild temperatures that allow us to check the bees. Today was one of those days.
We started the winter with seven colonies. I am happy to report that we checked all seven hives today and the bees seem to be doing well. Since it was still cool, we didn’t open all the hive boxes. We checked the few that we knew could be running out of food. At the start of winter, we placed feeding patties inside all of our hives. Most of our colonies had plenty of stored honey, but we think the feeding patties are a good insurance policy. The bees still had plenty of food when we checked today.
My husband was ready to proclaim victory, but I am not as optimistic. We still have plenty of time left this winter for things to go wrong. Beekeepers can never become over confident. Mother Nature has a way of humbling even the most seasoned beekeepers., and we aren’t seasoned beekeepers yet. We are just experienced rookies.
For now…..The bees are flying. Everyone is fed. Our colony survival rate is 7 out of 7. Now we cross our fingers and wait for March.