The first year experience was exhilarating with a lot of "firsts". Take a moment to look back and pat yourself on the back because you deserve credit for making it this far. Now, the second year with your hive is when you experience more challenges. Immediately coming out of winter, your hives will need your attention. Your bees will have depleted their food stores over the winter months and until flowers begin producing nectar and pollen, they will not have a source for food unless you provide one. Once you experience warmer days in your area, you need to inspect your hives. Check their food stores and apply a semi moist feed (Fondant is a great option) close to the cluster.
During the Second Year...
- Your Hive may Swarm. Swarming is the natural process for bees to reproduce. It is amazing to see and capture a swarm, however, if it was your hive that swarmed, it may cause issues. Read more in Dealing with the Swarm.
- You may be able to create a Split. Did you hive come out of winter really strong? You can acquire a new queen and take frames of brood from that hive in order to create a split. Your one hive just became two. Read more in Spring Prep.
- You can stack on the Honey Supers. Last year your bees would have been working on drawing out the frames for the queen to lay and provide space to store honey. This may have left you with little to no honey to harvest from them. Well... this year they are going to be starting fresh with drawn out frames and you will be able to reap the benefits.
- Check your Mite Count. Last year when you purchased your bees, if you purchased from a reputable supplier, they would have been pre-treated for mites. This did not require any treatments for your hive until fall. Some may have gone without treating at all. This year will be different though. Once your bee population begins to increase, so will the mite level.
There are many perks to beginning your second year in beekeeping. First off, you made it through winter with your hive! Congratulations! They will come out strong and continue to get stronger. Keep building up the hive, giving them room to grow and this year, you will see that surplus of honey sitting in bottles on your shelf.