In Florida, February is the time of year when honey bees begin building up their brood nest for the Spring honey flows. The maple trees and wild mustard have already bloomed providing some much needed nutrient dense pollen protein. Willow having also begun blooming has started to provide a rich source of nectar. Soon maple and willow will be joined by many other floral sources.
Northern and Central Florida will see Blueberry, Cherry, Hawthorn, Oak, Plum, Spanish Needle, Sweet Clover, and Viburnum join the bloom. While South Florida will see American Beautyberry, Blackberry, Coreopsis, Mexican Clover, Orange, Primrose Willow, and Sweet Acacia begin to bloom.
While all these sources of bee food are beginning to bloom, there still may be a need to feed your bees. Northern Florida beekeepers will need to feed both pollen substitute and syrup if their colonies are light. Central and South Florida may be able to stop feeding as the local natural resources should begin coming in quite heavily.
Central and South Florida should continue to monitor their varroa levels. We have found that an alcohol or soapy water wash to be the most effective method of separating mites from your sample of bees for determining your apiary’s varroa ratio. Another round of mite treatment is necessary if you reach a ratio of 3 mites per 100 bees.
During this time of year, Central and South Florida beekeepers may also want to treat for American / European Foulbrood using Terramycin (Terra-Pro), however a Veterinary Feed Directive is required before you can purchase this product. You can obtain your VFD by visiting the website beevfd.com. If you prefer not to treat your colony with anti-biotics you can inoculate them instead with a Direct Feed Microbial product which will provide the colony with a healthy formula of beneficial gut bacteria. North Florida beekeepers can also benefit from a DFM treatment.
You can find the product SuperDFM-HoneyBee by Strong Microbials in our show room. SuperDFM may not prevent a foulbrood outbreak as an antibiotic would, it will however increase your honey bees’ digestive health tract, improving colony strength, and improving their immunity to potential diseases.
We wish you good luck as your bees begin building up this Spring! Soon you will be splitting your colonies and watching for swarms. South Florida you may already be ready to start your splits, you’ll want to monitor your colony strength and split as needed.