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January Monthly Tips
1. December was unusually warm in most of Texas, with bees in many areas bringing in small amounts of pollen during warm flight days. In many of my hives they have maintained small amounts of brood all winter! Now that the days are growing longer, expect to see slowly increasing amounts of brood through January. As a result, continue monitoring food stores. Pollen patty feeding can be resumed in January until a strong pollen flow begins in mid to early February depending on where you are located. You may find bees burrowing into chicken feed, sawdust, etc. They are attempting to find a source of protein and will gather any type of dust thinking it is a protein source. You can open feed protein powder in January to discourage that behavior. All that being said, pollen feeding is not as critical in January as it was over the late summer/early fall months.
2. During quick hive inspections, you will most likely see the size of cluster diminish over time. Expect to continue to see a slow loss in population as the fall workers die. This is normal, and typically does not begin to reverse until late January to mid-February. Hives often lose strength over winter, thus the larger and stronger the hive going into winter the better.
3. When considering weak hives & combining them, I’m a bit more liberal in January. If a hive has made it this far, I often do not combine them, and see if they can make it into February, where significant growth should occur.
4. Leave entrance reducers on your hive. I usually recommend removing them when daytime temperatures are routinely in the 60s.
5. Keep wax moth crystals on your stored comb.
6. As your hive begins to raise brood, make sure they have at least 20lbs of surplus honey/syrup stored in their second box. If they don’t, consider feeding a gallon or two over the course of January.
7. Last, but certainly not least, if you want more hives next year, make sure to order nucs or hives, and queens NOW! The sooner you order your bees, the earlier the pick up date you will be able to choose! For now, we have not raised prices for 2021, so order soon!