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What does a season of beekeeping look like in Boulder area?

Posted: Thu Feb 11, 2016 12:03 pm
by jdaun1
I'm a 6 yr hobby beekeeper in Minneapolis, with plans to move to Boulder area in late spring, probably late May.

In my area in MN, the timing of beekeeping events look something like this:
  • hive package bees between mid-late April
  • feed packages through mid-May, when first nectar becomes available (usually dandelions)
  • main nectar flow runs approx mid-June through mid-August
  • harvest honey late-August
  • finish winter feeding by mid-Sept (if needed)
  • cover hives for winter around Thanksgiving
Can someone briefly describe the approx timing for events in the Boulder area?
Is there one main nectar flow, or several? I realize this can vary by specific location.

Anything you can share would be helpful ... I'm trying to understand if I'll have time to establish hives in Boulder area when I move this year, or if I'll need to wait til next year.

Thanks in advance!

Re: What does a season of beekeeping look like in Boulder ar

Posted: Thu Feb 11, 2016 2:31 pm
by Backyard Bees
Welcome to Colorado!

• People around here aim to install new bees at the first dandelion bloom (around April 20th) and will feed until either the comb is fully drawn or the bees stop taking the feed.
• The main nectar flow varies from year to year but is typically most strong in May/June followed by a dearth in July and then things can pick back up in the fall (or not).
• It's traditional for people around here to harvest in late summer/early fall though some people are choosing to harvest earlier.
• People don't typically cover hives here (unless at altitude) because our winters are comparatively mild and historically they've done well uncovered.
• We prep for winter by doing fall inspections and installing mouse guards as weather dictates (September/October)
• People are questioning all long-held, local beekeeping practices because bees are really struggling.
• Late May is on the late side, in my opinion, to establish a new colony successfully. Give yourself a season to get to know the area then dive in, in earnest, in 2017.

Re: What does a season of beekeeping look like in Boulder ar

Posted: Thu Feb 11, 2016 8:05 pm
by kristinahoney
One thing I would add is that we often have a long, dry fall with nothing blooming, but warm enough temperatures for bees to be active. They can use up a lot of honey during that time. We're A LOT drier than MN and often put out water for our bees. Another reason not to start a hive after the first week in May is that it can be too hot to ship bees safely and new research points to temperature extremes during shipping as a cause of poor queen performance. Also, it's tornado season, and also we have a snowstorm in May. Also hail. You might get a swarm though.
Kristina Williams
Beehave mentoring and support
Boulder, CO

Re: What does a season of beekeeping look like in Boulder ar

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2016 8:51 am
by jdaun1
Thank for the info, I appreciate it.

You've convinced me that starting new hives in late May would be too late. Also convinced me that spring weather can be highly variable :)

How about relocating over-wintered hives from MN to CO in late May/early June - ok idea? bad idea? Any special considerations?

I understand I would need to get my hives inspected by my state Ag agency before moving them across state lines, I could do that.

Thanks again.