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".