January beekeeping along the Front Range is typically straight forward. Bees are still mostly clustered, but warmer days can allow some cleansing flights.
If you are considering starting to raise bees this year, January is a great time to start learning as much as you can about bees. There are a great many sources of information available today which is a mixed blessing. You can find an answer to almost any question you may have about beekeeping in mere moments. The problem is you may find so many answers that the correct course of action becomes unclear. There is, of course, plenty of just plain bad advice available as well.
We recommend you develop trusted voices that you refer to as you begin your beekeeping adventure. This voice can be a mentor that you met at your local beekeeping club or a good book aimed at beginning beekeepers. One of our best selling books is Beekeeping Mentor In a Book by local author Don Studinski.
Beekeeping classes are another great way to gain the knowledge you need. In addition to our beginning beekeeping classes, we can recommend any of the courses certified by the Colorado State Beekeeping Association.
Second-year and beyond
January beekeeping for the second-year beekeeper can be relaxed or nail-biting. If your colonies were adequately prepared including Varroa mite management, and managing winter stores, there’s nothing to do but wait for spring.
While the bees are mostly inactive, warmer days can see flurries of activity around the hive as bees perform their cleansing flights. Sometimes on warmer days beekeepers will be concerned about dead bees by the hive entrance. Winter bees normally die in small amounts throughout the season. During cold spells, undertaker bees cannot break cluster to remove their dead sisters. When a warmer day appears, they get busy and remove them occasionally causing concern for newer beekeepers.
Most colonies are likely broodless. Now is an excellent time to use oxalic acid to reduce the varroa mite load in your hives. In particular using an oxalic acid vaporizer (OAV) is a method that does not disturb the bees while being rough on mites. If your colony is broodless, OAV can have an efficacy rate of over 95%.