April 2018 Beekeeping Notes

Beekeeping Notes April 2018: these notes are general in nature and are meant to encourage some planning and good hive management. There are many other references on-line with suggested things to do each month; KSBA website and Kentucky State University-Cooperative Extension Program.

March: This spring is off to very warm days followed by windy, cold rainy sometimes snowy days, so the bees are struggling to get going with a start stop weather pattern.

April:    “BEWARE OF SWARMING”

  • The hives that have made it through the winter and this past March are most probably in good condition and the queens should be laying good patterns. If not then plan to replace those non-productive queens as soon as possible.
  • Early in the month continue to feed the hives with 1:1 sugar syrup because it is remaining cold and rainy. Stop the use of pro patties because as it does warm up the small hive beetles love the patties.
  • Conduct regular hive inspections every 7 to 10 days weather permitting. It’s a good idea to keep watch for rapidly expanding hives and the possibility for swarming.
  • April is a good time to consider making splits from very strong hives for Nuc’s and/or maybe divide strong hives into two equal hives.
  • Be sure to check for the queen, the brood pattern, the number of frames of capped brood, eggs, swarm cells and etc.
  • Replace poorly productive queens—not laying very many eggs or very poor brood pattern.
  • This is also the time to install packages of bees and Nuc’s to start new hives.
  • Remember to remove all Varroa Mite treatments before installing any honey supers.
  • Consider adding honey supers around mid-month because the nectar flow may have begun.
  • Remove all debris/observation boards from screened bottom boards as soon as the day time temperatures are regularly above 60 degrees and the night Temperatures are well above 32 degrees. There is no real hurry and they can stay on longer to be safe.
  • Consider removing entrance reducers once the nectar flow starts and especially when you see the bees struggling to get in and out of the hives—traffic jams at the entrances.
  • After putting on honey supers, wait a week or so before adding queen excluders, if you use them, so as to allow the bee’s freedom of movement to get started bringing in nectar and pollen to the supers. If you want to add queen excluders, make sure that the queen is not up in the supers. Reversing hive bodies just before adding the supers can help to avoid the queen moving up into the supers and maybe also help to avoid swarming as well.
  • Recommend a ground cover or treatment under each hive such as 30# roofing felt/paper of similar material. Also suggest spreading salt on ground around under hive stands to control hive beetles, Varroa mites and other pest. This will only help control -- it is "not a prevention".

March 2018 Beekeeping Notes

Hardin County Kentucky Beekeepers Association monthly beekeeping notes for March 2018These are beekeeping notes for March

Every month Hardin County Beekeepers Association publishes a monthly beekeeping note for things to do or information important to beekeepers during the month.  You may also view all the notes published in 2018.

  • The bees have made it through the winter but if there was significant stress on them, then a hive may be weak or if the queen is not strong—you could experience a hive loss.
  • Strong hives will grow and expand fairly rapidly.
  • The queens should be laying by now and the hives should be building up for spring.   As soon as the weather warms to be normally above freezing, start feeding with 1:1 sugar syrup with a little Honey B Healthy; also consider placement of 1/2 of a Spring Pollen/Protein Patty on each hive in early March.
  • Conduct first comprehensive hive inspections; this will be very weather dependent only if temperatures are running in upper 40's and 50's with little to no wind blowing during the day. Be very careful not to damage the queen!
  • Check for eggs, larvae, capped brood and the brood pattern.
  • Check for any mite problems or damage of any kind. Sample for Varroa mites by either the alcohol or sugar roll method. You might also consider early Varroa Mite treatments that can be used during this time frame. A good reference is "Honey Bee Health Coalition's" Varroa Mite Management guidelines.
  • Around the 1st of March, it’s generally a good idea to reverse the hive bodies after daily temps are regularly in the 40's and 50's and there are few if any freezing nights. This time will vary from season to season.  Upon inspection of the hives, their upper brood boxes may be completely full, in such cases, the reversing may need to be accomplished sooner than later, especially if the bottom hive body is also starting to fill.  Early warm weather periods can create swarming issues in March.
  • Recommend a ground cover under each hive such as 30# roofing felt/paper or other ground cover material. Also suggest spreading salt on the ground around and under all hive stands to help control hive beetles, Varroa mites and other pest. This will only help as a control -- it is "not a treatment".
  • It is time to consider possibly "SPLITTING" of hives if there are any that are developing very rapidly and also to help prevent early swarming. Depending on the weather in early spring, strong hives can grow very rapidly and may swarm in early March.
  • It may be too late to order bees or queens for early spring—April time frame.
  • Consider attending a beekeeping school. KSBA website has a complete listing.

March 2018 “Beeline” note to beekeepers;

Last year, Kentucky’s first swarm was recorded on March 4.  With that in mind, this 2018 Beelines has several tips for obtaining swarms.

Because of the record-setting rainfalls, your hives may have consumed much of their “honey stores.”   While we have a sunny day or two, be sure and take a peek inside the hive.  Do not rely on lifting the back of the hive and assume because there is some weight that the hive has honey.   Do not guess when it comes to honey availability for the bees this time of year.  The hives will have some “spring die-off” as the winter bees (those that were eggs in September) are now past their prime, and the queen is assessing pollen availability as she lays the younger generations.  There can be a “generation gap,” and the bees need nutrition to get them through that gap.  Any disruption with pollen availability (a sudden freeze, for example) and the queen may quit laying for a few days.  So, double-check the nutrition in the hives as we move into March.

If your hives do not swarm, you may be considering a honey harvest this spring.

February 2018 Beekeeping Notes

Hardin County Kentucky Beekeepers AssociationThese are beekeeping notes for February

Every month Hardin County Beekeepers Association publishes a monthly beekeeping note for things to do or information important to beekeepers during the month.  You may also view all the notes published in 2018.

  • Conduct a quick peek weather permitting, warm sunny day, and check to see if any hive has any issues or if hive has died out. Hopefully not!
  • Spring is just around the corner and the queens will start laying eggs. Around mid to late February check to see if hives have consumed all their honey/pollen reserves and/or Candy Boards, or other supplements; also, consider adding a Spring Pollen/Protein Patty and maybe a piece of candy board square or other sugar supplement. The hives will need plenty of food because they will start cleaning up the hives and building up the hive population for spring.
  • Check for moisture issues and make sure there is adequate ventilation--moisture in a hive during the winter is a potentially big problem
  • Check for mite problems or hive damage of any kind. You might also consider early Varroa Mite treatments that can be used during this time frame—weather permitting. A good reference: "Honey Bee Health Coalition" Varroa Mite Management guidelines.
  • If you are using screened bottom boards, it's a good idea to pull the debris boards every couple of weeks and inspect as well as clean them off. You will start to see evidence of the hives cleaning out cells and working on the hives.
  • If there are any hives that have died out, then these hives need to be taken apart and cleanup and the frames with honey should be stored in a refrigerator or freezer. All other frames should be stored properly to avoid any wax moth infestation.
  • Time to work on the repair and maintenance of beekeeping equipment to get it ready for spring time use
  • Late time to order queens and bees for spring.
  • Consider attending a beekeeping school.