February always feels like the longest month to me. It is one of the toughest for the bees, and is usually the month that hives will succumb to the elements. The unrelenting cold forces the bees to eat their surplus honey for energy to create heat and stay healthy against varroa mites and other diseases that plague them.
The good news is that in only four weeks or so when there are more consistent non-freezing temps, we will begin feeding the hives that survived the winter. These hives will be split into new colonies of bees, many of which will be finding homes in your backyards this spring!
Here’s the February checklist for Hive Hosts:
- Signatures! By now you should have begun talking to the neighbors you need signatures from for the city permit. If you haven’t spoken to anyone yet, there is still time. The sooner we get those signatures, the sooner you can get your hive! If you are shy or unsure about how to start the conversation, consider sending out this letter to your neighbors before you knock on their doors. If you’d like, I can join you when you knock on doors to help answer questions or give you some confidence while asking for signatures. I’m also willing to sweeten the deal with some samples of honey if push comes to shove.
- Fencing Requirements. In your permit application packet, there should be detailed information about fencing requirements and flyaway barriers. Read them carefully and make sure your yard meets the requirements. If it doesn’t and you’d still like to host a hive, call me and we can make an action plan for meeting the guidelines.
- Consider Location. Your application requires a map of your property and the location of your hive. You don’t have to set anything in stone just yet, but consider all of the requirements you need to meet for approval, and then consider that bees need a good windbreak from the north and west to survive the winter, as well as southeastern exposure for morning sun and afternoon shade. No yard has the perfect conditions, and honeybees are able to adapt very well.