All Beekeeping Notes

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Beekeeping Notes for April

General Notes

  • The weather has turned to spring early and everything is blooming early but beware of a cold snap and rainy weather in late April.
  • Hives that have made it through the winter are most probably in good condition and the queens are laying good patterns.
  • Early in the month continue to feed the hives with 1:1 sugar syrup. Stop the use of pro patties because there is plenty of pollen available by this time and small hive beetles love the patties.
  • Recommend all feeding be done internally not externally.
  • Swarming will be a possibility through April on into May, June and July.
  • Every 7 to 10 day conduct a hive inspections so as to keep watch for rapidly expanding hives and the possibility for swarming.
  • Be sure to check for the queen, the brood pattern, the number of frames of capped brood, eggs, swarm cells and etc.
  • You might consider making splits from very strong hives.
  • It is also the time to install packages of bees or Nuc’s.
  • Good time to re-queen any hives that have weak queens or queens that are not laying or have a poor egg laying pattern.
  • Need to remove all treatment for Varroa mites if you are going to place honey supers on the hives.
  • Watch for small hive beetles and take action to control them.
  • Add honey supers around mid-month because the nectar flow will have begun.
  • Consider removing debris/observation boards from screened bottom boards by mid-month.
  • Remove all entrance reducers by mid-month. Except for newly established hives that are still in the growth phase.
  • In late April or early May after putting on honey supers, wait about a week before adding queen excluders so as to allow the bees to have free movement upward toward making honey in the supers. If you want to add queen excluders, make sure that the queen is not up in the supers. You can consider reversing hive bodies at this time that may help to avoid the queen moving up into the supers.
  • You might consider making up Nuc's from existing strong hives by taking a couple of frames of brood if there is a lot of brood frames available in the hive and the queen is doing really good. You can consider allowing the hives to make new queens or purchase new queens for the Nuc’s. This all depends on your objectives to produce honey or to increase the number of hives you have.
  • Recommend a ground cover 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".

Special Notes

  1. The weather in April: Normally there is week toward the end of the month that turns cold and rainy—beware.
  2. If your primary objective is to produce honey then your efforts have to be focused on having healthy hives with a large population of bees. If you split hives or pull brood frames, you will most likely reduce the bee population and the honey production.
  3. Swarm Traps should already be up. Check them at least once every week.
  4. Swarm Catching and Removal: this is great fun and helpful but make sure that you are properly prepared and understand the liabilities and also how to properly manage a new swarm.
  5. Beehive swarm prevention should be a priority by making sure that the queen “always” has at least 4 to 5 frames in the center of the brood boxes for laying eggs and raising brood. The rotation of hive boxes is also a viable option. And making sure that the hive does not get honey/pollen/brood bound.
  6. The nectar flow will begin in April be prepared to start placing honey supers only on the healthy full of bees hives around the mid of the month.
  7. Avoid honey/pollen/brood bound hives: if a hive gets bound, it will swarm and/or the queen will stop laying and the population of bees will drop off significantly. Quick inspections of the hive and supers needs to be made every 5 to 7 days now through May--- This is necessary to make sure that the hives do not get brood/honey/pollen bound; that the queen always has 4 to 5 frames available in the brood boxes and also to add supers as needed.

Bee safe and bee healthy,

Swarm Season Has Begun

Swarm Prevention

I would recommend that you inspect your beehives and make sure that there is several frames available for the queen in each hive box and that the hive is not getting filled up too quickly with pollen and nectar. This check needs to be made every 7 to 10 days. In addition to the inspection and frame management, you can consider rotating your hive bodies and then possibly rotating them again in about 3 to 4 weeks.

Note: I found 4 of my beehives that I rotated two weeks ago to be completely full of bees and these had a 10 frame deep and 2 mediums already on them.  So yesterday, I added a queen excluder and another medium on top to allow for more space. I also moved a few frames around to make sure that the queen had room in all 3 of the lower boxes.

Swarm Trapping, catching, and removal

I have attached several documents for your reference. If you have any questions, please call or email.

Note: I do not recommend attempting to remove a swarm from a height of more than 5 feet without assistance from someone that has some experience in this!!!

Note: I do not recommend attempting a removal from a structure, building, barn or house, unless you and someone that is helping you knows exactly what you’re getting into and the potential issues and liabilities!!!

Note from Jim Tock in reference to the attached PDF’s:

This is based upon the swarm trap hand out you had last year.
I took the pieces of wood and laid it out a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood.
One set is for 1/2" plywood and the other set is 5/8" plywood.
I prefer the 5/8" because it gives you more width to get a nail into.
I would not cut the frame rests until the very last and verify the size works with your frames.
I have made one from both sets of sketches.

Good luck,









Setup of Swarm Traps

January 2020 Beekeeping Notes

Hardin County Kentucky Beekeepers AssociationThis time of year is considered the dormant period, but if the weather turns mild or any period of time, the queens will start laying again. The bees keep their winter cluster intact, except on sunny days in the 40’s & 50’s when the bees will fly. The queen begins to lay eggs, and brood rearing begins in the larger and healthier beehives. Any final Varroa Mite treatment with Oxalic Acid should have already been completed. It is time to check to make sure that there is plenty of food stores remaining or that your supplemental feed source is adequate. Starvation is one of the biggest causes for hive loses during the winter. The other primary reasons for hive losses is Varroa Mite and Viruses, weak or non-productive queens and too much moisture to due to a lack of proper ventilation. Be sure that on a nice warm day with little to no wind and the bees are flying that you take a quick check of your beehives to make sure that they are still alive and also to assess the strength and weakness of any of them. This is also the best time to repair and paint your beehive equipment and to replace any old very dark sometimes black foundation with new wax foundation or to scrape your old plastic foundation and clean them up with a new coat of bees wax. Properly store boxes of frames with foundation using Paramoth.

Note #1

In the late October, I treated all my 17 hives with Formic Pro and then in late December I did a onetime treatment with Oxalic Acid with a fogger. The results varied from no mites found on the debris boards to about 12 or so. That told me that my hives were in pretty good shape and the mite treatments have been effective.

Note #2

In mid to late November, I started using Dadant’s AP23 Winter Patties since the weather had turned colder and the bees’ consumption of sugar syrup had really slowed down. Then in mid-December I made up candy boards for all my beehives. When I went to place them on, the bees had consumed almost all the winter patties and a lot of their stored honey and pollen. So I place another winter patty on at the same time I put on the candy boards. Well I went back to check in the bees a few weeks later, they had for the most part completely consumed the winter patties and 10% to 20% of the candy boards plus several had starting building cone up into the candy boards. All the hives appeared to be healthy and very active even the smallest that I have reservations about. Good signs. But it is a long way to spring yet.

Note #3

I have single deep 10 frame hives, double deep 10 frame hives, single deeps with one medium hives, single deeps with two medium hives. So I have a real variety going through the winter and it will be interesting to see how they survive until March.

Note #4

VERY IMPORTANT! If you have any hives that die out---be sure to take them apart and clean the frames of all dead bees an store the equipment using Paramoth. Frames that have honey can be either extracted and properly stored or placed in a freezer or refrigerator until spring.