New calendar years give us a chance to revive our spirits, rejuvenate our souls and revamp our motivations. But what does the turning of the calendar mean for the bees? Well, if we’re honest, nothing. Our new year comes in the middle of a season, and one that’s hard on the bees. (Cultures around the world have recognized other times as the “new” year, such as the autumn season being the Celtic new year—that seems more fitting with the beekeeping calendar, doesn’t it?) Just the same, that doesn’t mean you can’t set intentions for the coming year and expanding your horizon as a beekeeper. Especially if you’re new to keeping bees, in your second year a world of wonder awaits.
Here’s what you have to look forward to in your second beekeeping year and beyond:
If you’ve been prudent (something I always encourage), you probably refrained from harvesting honey your first year (or any year with a poor nectar flow, which is a good move even for seasoned beekeepers). But if your hives overwinter successfully, and they remain strong all season, this might be your year to taste the fruits of your shared labor.
Try Something New
Perhaps you’ve raised bees in Langstroth hives for years and you’ve never tried the top bar method. Maybe you’ve raised bees only in top bars and never tried a Warre. Maybe you’ve always wanted to build your own woodenware but something got in the way. This is the year to try something new and experiment. Expand your horizons. Which leads us to…
Become a Mentor
This one is for you seasoned beekeepers. Sometimes students find us; other times, we need to put ourselves out there to let them know we’re available. If you’re open to becoming a mentor, consider reaching out to communities, schools and neighborhoods that often don’t have funding or exposure to beekeeping. There will be some paperwork involved, but now is the time to get started so you can be ready to act when spring arrives.
Winter is an excellent time to sharpen new indoor skills, especially when our bees are quiet and the outside world is still. Take a class in candle making or soap making. Learn how to create new projects and products with your honey, wax, propolis and more. Master these skills in the winter, so when the summer rolls around, you have a lovely stockpile and new skills to practice on fresh material.
Is there something you’ve been putting off learning or doing because it seems impossible? Maybe it’s just something you never got around to taking on. Now is the best time—every year will be busy, such is life. But the real fun lies in the unknown. Now the real question is: What are you waiting for?