March is historically an unpredictable month for weather in Idaho. One minute it’s blowing snow sideways and the next minute it’s a sunny 70 degrees. The sporadic nature of this weather makes it difficult to know what clothing to wear or if I should keep my snow tires on my car, but it also makes it difficult to know if/when to inspect your beehive. Keep in mind that there are no set rules in beekeeping. However, I have found some general weather guidelines helpful when choosing to crack open my hive. Failing to following these can result in working with some grumpy and crotchety bees, and likely a higher chance of some stings.
The temperature should be roughly 60 degrees or higher – Bees like to keep their hive nice and warm, yet dry. Therefore, opening a hive on a cold and brisk 45 degree day lets out the warm temperature that the bees have created to stabilize their hive’s brood (baby bees).
Less wind results in less temperament – Wind, much like cold temperatures, can cause the warmth inside the hive to escape if cracked open. It also makes it difficult for the bees to fly, thus they are more likely to be bundled up in the hive.
On that note, inspections work best when the bees are out-and-about and busy! The less bees in the hive, the easier the inspection will be. Thus, you want to inspect during times of day when many of the worker bees are out foraging. This is usually mid morning to mid afternoon.
Sunny days are better than cloudy – much like humans, bees are happier in the sunshine! They prefer to forage for pollen and nectar on nice sunny days. You will find that inspecting on these days is easier for you too.
In an ideal world, you would inspect your hive on a calm 75 degree day, around noon, with the sun shining, and bees out foraging. But in reality we don’t always get textbook perfect days like this. Understand that you can inspect a hive on a cloudy day, but you are likely to find more bees at home that are a bit cranky that you have disturbed them. Further, you can open a hive on a 50 degree day, but you should probably be intentional about your tasks and move as quick as possible to not disturb the brood.
Keep your bees buzzin’ y’all!