Beekeeping in the wintertime may looks different than it does in other seasons, but that doesn’t mean nothing happens.
Gary Barber said it’s a time for him to build frames and bee boxes while preparing for the spring.
Mary-Ann Allen said it’s also a time to plan for any apiary expansions and any products you may want to make, like honey wax, as well as making sure the bees have enough food.
“It's kind of the calm before the storm,” she said.
Allen is the previous board president of the Collin County Hobby Beekeepers Association. Barber is the current board president of the Denton County Beekeepers Association. Both organizations offer networking and support from beekeepers who have ridden the honey wave before.
“Every year's a new year,” Allen said. “Beekeeping is like farming, so you do your best to prepare, but the results will change every year depending on what the weather conditions are.”
Meetings will usually involve a speaker talking about a special topic related to beekeeping, and a time to talk about what members should be doing to take care of their hives.
Barber started learning about beekeeping through the internet, he said. For him, the association gives insight to how local beekeeping works.
“One of the problems is as you're researching online and learning things, sometimes you'll be watching a video from some guy up in Canada,” he said. “Beekeeping in Canada is completely different from Beekeeping in Texas. So it helps to know local beekeepers, because they probably already experienced whatever problem you have or whatever questions you have.”
Allen said being a part of the Collin County Hobby Beekeepers Association helps you understand where you fit into a bigger picture. She originally joined when her family got interested in the hobby.
“I got in for self preservation,” she said. “I don't mind the bees, but I was definitely concerned that they were going to be in my backyard, because I love to do outdoor things, and if I'm going to be walking by the beehives, I want to know how to protect myself.”
Now, she has just finished her run as the association board president and finds sitting next to a hive about as relaxing as sitting near a fountain, she said.
Supporting the bees goes beyond beekeeping, however.
The association works to educate the community on topics like the ecological impact of bees and how common chemicals affect bees, she said.
The Collin County Hobby Beekeepers Association crowns a Honey Queen every year. Her duties include speaking with homeowners associations, schools, gardening clubs and more to educate the community on topics like beekeeping and uses for honey.
Residents can plant for the bees as a way to support them. Now is a good time to plant fruit trees, Allen said, and the dandelions that come out in January are some of the bees’ first bit of pollen. Other plants like winter honeysuckle and Texas sage are good choices to help local bees. It is best to have more than one plant available, Allen said, such as having a group of them in a three-by-three-foot space.
“We need beekeepers to help take care of the bees, but we also need just the general public to not be terrified of the bees,” she said. “Be patient with us and plant for the bees.”