Johnny Mason, March 7, 2012:
With higher than normal winter temperatures across the country this year, keeping bees may prove to be a challenge this spring. Signaled by the outside warmth, queen bees have begun laying brood earlier than normal, and this has demanded a need for supplemental feeding that many beekeepers may not have expected. While March is infamous for starving hives anyway, if not monitored and maintained properly this could trigger large colony die-offs due solely to lack of sustenance. While it’s fantastic that more bees have probably overwintered better this year, so have pests that may have otherwise perished.
Various beetles and other hungry critters have begun feeding on plants and infesting areas that the weather has not impacted like normal. Will this mean a larger, more robust influx of honey bee invaders such as phorid fly and varroa destructor? Beyond the immediate threat of parasites, the bugs and weeds that will be popping up sooner than later will also get people spraying all of those nasty pesticides and herbicides that much earlier.
Of course, this is just speculation. What do you expect this spring and summer to be like? How have your hives done over the winter? Let me know in the comments.