- The weather has turned to spring and everything is blooming early BUT beware of a cold snap and cold rainy weather in April. It always happens.
- There is now lots of pollen and some nectar flow for the bees.
- Hives that have made it through the winter are most probably in good condition and the queens should be 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 the small hive beetles love the patties. If you do continue to use the patties, only use maybe ½ a patty at a time.
- Recommend all feedings be done internally not externally.
- Swarming will be a possibility throughout April and on into May, June, and July.
- Every 7 to 10 day conduct a “quick hive check”, “not” a full-blown inspection, to keep watch for rapidly expanding hive populations and frames becoming filled with nectar and pollen which can cause conditions that promote swarming.
- Be sure to check for a good brood pattern and the number of frames of capped brood, eggs, swarm cells etc.
- You might consider making hive or Nuc splits from strong hives.
- It is the time to install packages of bees or Nuc’s.
- Good time to re-queen any hives that have queens that are not laying or have a poor brood pattern.
- Early spring Varroa mite treatments should be completed, and it is recommended that most treatments be removed if you are going to be placing 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.
- Remove debris/observation boards from screened bottom boards after mid-month; and remove all entrance reducers by after md-month. Except for newly established hives or splits that are still in the growth phase.
- After putting on honey supers, wait about a 3 to 5 days before adding queen excluders to allow the bees the freedom to move up into 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 which may help to avoid the queen from moving up into the supers. If there is any brood, new larva or new eggs in the supers, move those frames down below the excluder.
- Recommend a ground cover under each hive stand such as 30# roofing felt/paper or similar material. Also suggest spreading salt on the ground around under hive stands. It does help to control hive beetles, Varroa mites and other pest. These actions help control – they are “not a prevention”.
- In strong hives, recommend reducing the number of frames in each box with fully drawn comb down from 10 to 9 for ease of inspection and management, especially in the honey supers.
- The weather in April: Normally there is week or two in the month of April that turns cold and rainy—beware.
- If your primary objective is to produce honey, then your efforts must be focused on having healthy hives with large bee populations. If you split strong hives or pull brood frames for any reason, you will most likely reduce the bee population, and this may impact your honey production.
- Swarm Traps should already be up. Check them at least once every week or two.
- Swarm Catching and Removal: this is great fun and helpful but make sure that you are properly prepared and understand the liabilities and how to properly manage a new swarm.
- Beehive swarm prevention should be a priority. Make 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. Also make sure that the hive does not get honey/pollen/brood bound.
- The nectar flow will begin in April so be prepared to start placing honey supers on the healthy strong hives full of bees around the mid of the month. Very strong hives may have needed one added already.
- 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 Check” inspections of the hives and supers needs to be made every 7 to 10 days from 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 to add supers as needed.
- Avoid Over Inspecting your Hives: Over Inspection is the biggest causes for damaging or killing the queen, creating too much disruption in the hive causing swarming, queens to slow down or stop laying and reduced honey production.