One of the beekeepers in the Treasure Valley Beekeepers Club keeps track of the first blooms noticed in the Treasure Valley. It is the Silver Maple and it they started to bloom this last week! Time to get to work!
Are you thinking about keeping bees? Curious how much time it will take? Using statistics from the December 2016 copy of the American Bee Journal I have done the math to give some a ballpark time commitments. I am saying it will take a hobbyist beekeeper 20 min per hive, sideline beekeeper 12 min per hive and a commercial beekeeper 8 min per hive.
As far as season length I am going to approximate spring and summer as 94 days, fall and winter as 88 days. Keep in mind weather also plays a factor with the bugs…most hobbyists do not work during wind/rain/snow. The commercial guys do. They cannot afford the time to not. This is just time going through hives. It does not include meetings, conferences, finances, and equipment (ie building new hives).
Hobby Beekeepers (10 colonies)
Spring: 3.3 hours every 7-10 days
Summer: 3.3 hours every 2-3 weeks
Fall: 3.3 hours every 4-6 weeks
Winter: 3.3 hours every 6-8 weeks
80 hours over the year (1.5 hours a week average)
8 hours total per colony
Sideline Beekeepers (250 colonies)
Spring: 50 hours every 7-10 days
Summer:50 hours every 2-3 weeks
Fall: 50 hours every 4-6 weeks
Winter: 50 hours every 6-8 weeks
1300 hours over the year (25 hours per week average)
5.2 hours total per colony
Commercial Beekeepers (700 colonies)
Spring: 95 hours every 7-10 days
Summer: 95 hours every 2-3 weeks
Fall: 95 hours every 4-6 weeks
Winter: 95 hours every 6-8 weeks
2500 hours over the year (48 hours a week average)
3.5 hours total per colony
Starting this beekeeping season I volunteered to be the liaison between the Treasure Valley Beekeeping Club and the Foothills Learning Center here in Boise! What this entails is managing the three beehives the club currently has located at the FLC along with coordinating several projects like the bi-annual garden cleanup and Foothill Family Day about bees in September. I am really looking forward to this opportunity!
On Friday I went up there to check the status of the hives and was excited to see bees were flying! I also had the opportunity to use my new FLIR One thermal imaging camera to check where the cluster is located. It is useful for a beekeeper to know the location of the cluster since as they eat through their honey they move up in the hive. By checking the weight and location of the cluster I can determine if a hive is running low on food without having to open the hive and disturb the bees/cause a heat loss.
As you can see in the pictures the bees have moved up to the top box and are off to the sides. Since the hives all weight approximately the same this tells me I will need to check again in the next 3-4 weeks and possibly have to give them a little snack to get them through the rest of winter.
With temperatures being nearly 50 the last few days and bees flying it is safe to say spring is coming!