Spring is an extremely important time for bees. If you have any contact with these industrious insects, you know the phrase “busy as a bee” could have been coined right about now.
As you can see, that's one heck of a to-do list, but a beekeeper can help their colony handle the workload by making smart, bee-savvy decisions at the outset.
If you're setting up a new springtime hive, one of the most important things you'll do is pick a location. If possible, put the hive in a place were it will get lots of sun in the morning, so the hive can warm up quickly and the bees can get moving. But sunlight is a mixed blessing. If the hive gets too warm, bees have to spend time and energy keeping it cool by fanning their wings, which cuts down on the amount of foraging they can do. Hives in super shady locations are also more prone to a range of pests and parasites, including the small hive beetle, wax moths and even ants. We think the ideal mix is lots of sun in the morning and shade later. This might mean tracking the sun's path and noticing exactly where the light falls in your yard at different times of day, but any work you do now will pay off down the line.
Tapcomb® hives are made out of a Wood Composite (WPC) material that takes some of the stress off the bees by providing better thermal insulation in both hot and cold weather. Bees don't fly in the rain, so if you live in an area that's prone to spring rain, hive humidity matters, as they'll be spending lots of time cooped up indoors. WPC is more water resistant than wood, which makes spring showers more tolerable. Temperature regulation and waterproofing were a big part of picking WPC for our hives and why we think the material is such a big deal.
As the weather warms up, you'll need at least one watering station for your colony. It may seem counterintuitive, but don't put these stations too close to the hive. Your bees might actually overlook them. These insects were made to fly and cover a lot of ground on a daily basis. Bird baths make great watering holes for honey bees, but unlike the beehive itself, keeping a bird bath in the shade is ideal. Some beekeepers make sure there's always a tiny stick floating in the water, to give bees a place to perch while drinking.
Inspections are ongoing, so if you're setting up a new hive right now, you'll still need to learn what to look for to make sure your colony is healthy and the queen is laying the eggs that'll become the next generation of bees.
If you want honey this year, any bees you keep need a super now. If you don't have one, you can add a Tapcomb® Six-Frame or Seven-Frame Honey Super to an existing Langstroth hive. This means you can use what you already own, but still benefit from tappable, natural honey flow when it's time to harvest later.
If you're starting out from scratch, the complete Tapcomb® Wood Composite Six-Frame Hive provides all the necessary hive components, including tappable frames. You need to provide the bees, of course, but they can be ordered by mail or purchased from an experienced local beekeeper.
You can learn a lot more about setting up a beehive in our Beekeeping 101 guide. But here's one more tip before we go. If you can set up your hive so that it faces the morning sun, do so. Some beekeepers say worker bees start their day a little earlier when they get a jolt of early morning light — kind of like coffee, but without the jitters!