Time to be thinking about ordering your bees.
We are looking at 4-lb packages again, a premium over the 3-lb packages, in an effort to get the hives off to an early and successful start. This past season we have about 30 percent of our urban hives needing a honey super (which I recommend leaving unharvested over the first year). This coming year we hope to have even better first-year success by introducing Italian bees rather than last year's Russians. While the Russians are meant to over-winter more successfully and be resistant to mites, we found that their build-up and acceptance was unpredictable. Our Italian hives showed much greater success.
Finally, we may make a trip to see Don Kuchenmeister, the Fat Bee Man, best known for his videos on YouTube. He specializes in small-cell bees which are meant to be more resistant to mites. Depending on how early in the season we can get them, we will make nucleus colonies out of his bees and sell these as well.
DON"T WAIT TO ORDER. Bees get reserved quickly, usually by January, and I am scaling back my purchases to reflect my own current outside obligations and renewed focus on queen rearing and nuc building for our donated installations.