-by Steve Tilmann, MBA Treasurer
As this is written (end of April 2011), we note that packaged bees have begun to arrive in Michigan over the past two weeks. So beekeepers all over the state have been busy installing these packages. Anecdotally, we hear that there was (again) a significant die off of colonies this past winter. I lost 90% of my hives; but at least I am in good company. Zach posted that the MSU apiary lost 100% of their colonies. A lot of other beekeepers I have talked to are in this same ballpark.
Now that your packages are installed, you should make sure that you are feeding the bees. A 1 to 1 sugar to water mix is recommended for spring feeding (8 pounds of sugar to 1 gallon of water). Keep the syrup on the bees until they stop taking it. Many beekeepers are also supplementing their packages with pollen patties or other sources of protein.
Feeding this spring is particularly important, as the cool wet weather we have been having has delayed the early bloom. I have not seen a single dandelion, for example, and it appears as if a lot of the other early pollen sources are equally delayed (south central Michigan).
Helping your new packages of bees start out strong and healthy will have many benefits later on in the summer. So feed your bees!