March is a good or bad month for your bees. The number of bees increases exponentially, and bees consume more food.
Weather and Bee Activity in March
The weather in March is a mix of winter and spring. Even with erratic weather, the bees are rushing into spring in full force.
The queen now lays a large number of eggs. The litter needs a lot of honey and pollen to fully develop. Bees that have now laid will hatch into adult bees within 3 weeks. An increase in population can mean two things:
1. The hive may starve before the main nectar flow begins, or
2. Bees feel crowded and decide to swarm.
When laying eggs from mid-February to May, bees are constantly searching for water and pollen; both are necessary for a healthy brood. You can see your bees sucking water out of pots or puddles. As all these new bees hatch, you’ll see more activity in front of the hive. You will see most of the activity around 1 or 2 pm. The new bees will then complete their oriented flight. Oriented flight is when the bees fly out of the hive and visually map their surroundings.
March is the month most likely to go hungry – the only food available is the previous year’s honey reserve.
Hive protection from intruders
Varroa mites, wax moths and small hive beetles are all low at this time of year. But you should think about strategy beforehand. If you plan to do beehive fumigation, decide which equipment to choose. Varroa mites should be treated with oxalic acid regularly when there is little brood in the hive. You can also kill the brood during treatment and return the brood frame after removing mites from the hive. If your colony is heavily infested in spring or summer, you can treat with oxalic acid to prevent the colony from being overwhelmed by Varroa mites.
Oxalic Acid Vaporizer
Oxalic acid vaporization in beehives is an effective method to control Varroa mites. In fact, it kills mites that crawl through hives, bees, and bare cells. Vaporization uses a portable device you place in the hive. Acid vapors spread throughout the hive. Always wear safety gear when working with oxalic acid.
Oxalic Acid Fogger
Oxalic acid spray is a very effective method of controlling Varroa mites. When done correctly, it is 99% effective in any treatment. However, beekeepers should keep in mind that doses of oxalic acid will not harm the mites still in the bee brood cells. Repeat the treatment up to 4 times according to the interval to completely eliminate Varroa mites in the hive.
Temperature Inside The Hive
The temperature of the brooding nest is the most important to the colony and is controlled very precisely. Bees keep the temperature of the nest between 30°C and 35°C for the nest to develop properly. When the temperature in the hive gets too high, the bees ventilate by fanning hot air out of the hive or using an evaporative cooling mechanism. There are many commercially available hive temperature sensors that monitor the temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide levels in the hive.
March Beekeeper Tasks
As your bees are expanding, many beekeepers will rotate boxes in hopes of stemming the bees desire to swarm. his is done by simply moving the bottom box to the top of the stack, preferably before the heat spell.
Many beekeepers feed their bees syrup or pollen cake in the spring, but this may not be necessary unless the bees are in danger of starvation. This may be necessary if beekeepers want bees to reproduce quickly. Note though that feeding them bee syrup and pollen in the spring will cause them to swarm quickly.
By exploiting the natural instinct of bees to grow and expand in the spring, a beekeeper can make splits or nucleus hives from their bees. This is the best time of year to do this as there are many drones in the air for queen bees to mate. It can be very simple, especially when using the walk-away split method.
Optimistic beekeepers can set up swarm traps in the area to capture swarms. Swarm traps will not lure established hives out of the hive, but will encourage “homeless” swarms of bees into your trap. Lemongrass baits are an easy way to increase your chances of a catch.
Many beekeepers use pollen cake to help their bees. They often ensure that their population grows rapidly. Feeding bees is helpful for some beekeepers, but they can cause swarms. Use pollen cakes very conservatively – the more pollen cakes, the better.
Beekeeper Reading List
Here are a few books that might help get you through winter nights!
Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees by Thor Hanson
Honeybee Democracy by Thomas D. Seeley
Dancing With Bees: A Journey Back to Nature by Brigit Strawbridge Howard
Our Native Bees by Paige Embry