Jennifer Berry Beekeeping Seminar – Saturday July 16th

“Keeping Honey Bees Alive and the Impact of Industry on Bees”

Cookeville, TN:  The Mountain Valley, Cookeville, and Overton Beekeepers Associations are pleased to invite their members and the public to a joint beekeeping association gathering on Saturday July 16, 2016 at the Collegeside Church of Christ, 252 E. 9th Street, Cookeville, TN Auditorium in Cookeville, TN from 8:00 am to 2:30 pm.  Ms. Jennifer Berry will be the guest speaker and will be presenting two sessions on “Keeping Honey Bees Alive” and a session on “The Impact of Industry on Bees.

Jennifer Berry
Jennifer Berry

Ms. Berry is presently the Agricultural Research Coordinator and Lab Manager for the University of Georgia Honey Bee Program and a regular columnist for the Bee Culture Magazine. She writes occasionally for other publications, including Bee World. She also travels extensively to speak to local, state, national and international beekeeping associations.

Jennifer Berry
Jennifer Berry

The fee for non-members of the host associations is $5.00 per person payable at the door. A break for lunch will be from 11:45 until 1:00 pm, however lunch will not be provided.

July 2016 Meeting

Monthly Meeting: Our Regular monthly meeting will be on Thursday July 7th – as usual the meeting will be at Collegeside Church beginning at 6:30PM – the doors will be open at 6:00PM, so come early to discuss bees and how much honey your bees made!

This month we’ll be doing a live demonstration of honey extraction.  There are lots of options when it comes to extracting your honey, and we’ll be exploring one of those ways (the system I use).  So come on out and join us and learn.

Beekeeping Seminar:  Remember, coming up on Saturday July 16th, we’re having a seminar presented by Jennifer Berry from the University of Georgia.  More details are available here.

No Open Apiary Session this Sat June 25

There will not be an apiary session this week at the Bob Lynn rd Apiary, because I am going to be helping with the apiary sessions for the TN Master Beekeeper basic course which is being held at the Hyder Burks Center on Gainesboro grade.  The classes cost $100 and start on Thursday night and run through Saturday Afternoon, and It looks like (based on the website) that you can still register to get in on it.

What to do when you are Queenless

This article was originally published in May 2013, but this issue comes up like clockwork every year…

You think your hive is queenless – you can’t spot the queen, and you don’t see any eggs.  What now?

First, don’t panic – unless you have been pretty negligent in your inspections you have plenty of time to address this issue without any real negative effects on the hive.  There is at least a 3-1 chance that your hive is not actually queenless, and even if it is you can get it queenright all by yourself if you have at least one other hive.    Give the “queenless” hive a frame from another hive that has at least a few eggs or very young brood on it – aren’t you glad you have more than one hive?  Mark that frame (a child’s crayon works great for this) and make a note of what you have done and the date.   If the hive really is queenless, then it will start queen cells on that frame of brood right away, and they will be easy for even a novice to spot within 3-5 days.  The only real exception is that a hive which has been actually queenless for more than about 30 days may be so weak or have so many laying workers already that they won’t start queen cells. By that time though the hive will not only be queenless, but will be completely broodless and probably very weak – many of the foragers will abandon a queenless hive. But if you do inspections at least every other week to confirm that your hives are queenright that will never happen.

If they don’t try to start queen cells on a fresh frame of brood (during Spring through Fall) then they already have a queen – it might be a virgin queen, or a recently mated queen that is not yet laying.   If they do already have a queen (of any kind) they WILL NOT accept a new queen – no matter how much you pay for it.

Just about the only ways to be sure that a hive is really and truly queenless is to do the frame-of-brood thing or to actually remove the queen yourself.  Looking for the queen doesn’t do it – even an experienced queen spotter can fail when it really matters.

Also, giving an actually queenless hive a frame of open brood will help to prevent it from developing a laying worker, and will help to keep the population demographics healthier.

Any hive will benefit from a donated frame of brood.

There are a few reason why a hive might appear to be queenless when it really isn’t.   Brood production is cyclical – a hive can be full of brood one day and have very little only a few days later.  This usually involves an influx of nectar that leaves the queen with few places to lay eggs – at which point the hive may appear to be without a queen.   Depending on the exact circumstances this may or may not result in the hive issuing a swarm.   A hive which has swarmed may be queenless for a few days, and may be broodless for up to 3 weeks or so while it makes a new queen – also appearing to be queenless.  Or you could accidentally squish the queen during an inspection.  None of these circumstances make a hive hopelessly queenless – they all will make a new queen most of the time without beekeeper intervention.   Sometimes (10-30% of the time) something goes wrong though – If a virgin queen fails to return from mating for any reason the hive will then be hopelessly queenless – lacking the resources to make a new queen without help from a beekeeper.   While a queenless hive will pretty much always try to make a new queen it takes about 24 days more or less for that new queen to develop, get mated, and start laying eggs.  For many people – myself and my 50 yr old eyes included – it will be another week before there is brood which is easy to spot.  So about a month between becoming queenless and easily spotting brood.  During that time all of the eggs that the previous queen laid will emerge leaving the hive completely broodless after 24 days – all of the worker brood emerges in 21 days leaving only capped Drone brood.  This can make you think that you have a laying worker or drone laying queen.

Whenever in doubt – give any possibly queenless hive a frame of open brood.  Buying a queen without running this test first is going to be a waste of money about 3 out of 4 times.

Timeline of Queenlessness

No brood of any kind, population weak, laying workers, SHB, robbers, or wax worms taking over – queenless too long to save in my opinion. Shake it out – it’s a lost cause.

No brood of any kind but population strong– hive has been queenless for over three weeks – at least 24 days. If the population is still strong and you can see where they have cleaned out comb for a queen to lay eggs, there is probably a queen that either hasn’t started laying yet or has laid eggs that you are not spotting. Giving it a frame of brood is good luck anyway.

Capped Drone brood only – hive has been queenless for just about 3 weeks.

Lots of capped worker brood, but no open brood at all – queenless for about 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 weeks.

Open larva but no eggs or young brood – Queenless 6-8 days. You should find capped queen cells in a hive like this.

If I Made a hive queenless then I usually try to leave it alone for about 3-4 weeks if I can remember exactly when I did it. I need to keep better records I know. If I find one that looks like it has been queenless for only a couple of weeks or less I look for cells and then leave it alone for a couple of weeks. I always give a hive which has been queenless for over 3 weeks (little if any worker brood)  a frame of young brood from another hive to see if it builds new cells or so as to confirm if it is still queenless – and to ward off laying worker.

Remember – it takes a hive about 12 days to raise a queen, but it takes that queen another week to harden up and get mated, and then another week to start laying.  Then it might be another week before you can spot any brood.  About a whole month from start to finish to produce an easy to find laying queen.

But it only takes a few minutes to give a hive a frame of brood – and avoid disaster.

And by the way – you will not hurt the donating hive by stealing one frame of brood from it – even if you do it every week for a while.  Fear of harming a hive by taking brood from it is very common but almost completely baseless.  Don’t let this imaginary harm cause you to needlessly lose another hive.  If it bothers you then plan back the donation once you get the other hive queenright and healthy again.  But most likely you will see then that there is no need to do so because stealing a frame of brood here and there does little to set back a hive.

Shake it out!

Caution – if a hive has really been queenless for a whole month it is only a few days from a total meltdown which often results in the loss (due to wax moths and hive beetles) of all hive resources – including comb.   There is a point (little or no brood) when the best thing to do is to shake out the hive (carry it 15 yards away and shake all of the bees off of every frame onto the ground – then remove all of the woodenware from the original spot where it sat) and freeze the frames to kill any hive beetle or wax moth eggs which may be present.  If you have to shake out a hive it is not at all a loss, but rather more like a reboot – no bees (except laying workers – all others will beg into other hives) are killed, and no comb, honey, or brood is lost.  After you freeze the frames you can redistribute them and start a new nuc in the same spot using resources from your other hives, and many of the old foragers will even return to it.

Do your inspections!

This article was originally published in May 2013, but this issue comes up like clockwork every year…

You think your hive is queenless – you can’t spot the queen, and you don’t see any eggs.  What now?

First, don’t panic – unless you have been pretty negligent in your inspections you have plenty of time to address this issue without any real negative effects on the hive.  There is at least a 3-1 chance that your hive is not actually queenless, and even if it is you can get it queenright all by yourself if you have at least one other hive.    Give the “queenless” hive a frame from another hive that has at least a few eggs or very young brood on it – aren’t you glad you have more than one hive?  Mark that frame (a child’s crayon works great for this) and make a note of what you have done and the date.   If the hive really is queenless, then it will start queen cells on that frame of brood right away, and they will be easy for even a novice to spot within 3-5 days.  The only real exception is that a hive which has been actually queenless for more than about 30 days may be so weak or have so many laying workers already that they won’t start queen cells. By that time though the hive will not only be queenless, but will be completely broodless and probably very weak – many of the foragers will abandon a queenless hive. But if you do inspections at least every other week to confirm that your hives are queenright that will never happen.

If they don’t try to start queen cells on a fresh frame of brood (during Spring through Fall) then they already have a queen – it might be a virgin queen, or a recently mated queen that is not yet laying.   If they do already have a queen (of any kind) they WILL NOT accept a new queen – no matter how much you pay for it.

Just about the only ways to be sure that a hive is really and truly queenless is to do the frame-of-brood thing or to actually remove the queen yourself.  Looking for the queen doesn’t do it – even an experienced queen spotter can fail when it really matters.

Also, giving an actually queenless hive a frame of open brood will help to prevent it from developing a laying worker, and will help to keep the population demographics healthier.

Any hive will benefit from a donated frame of brood.

There are a few reason why a hive might appear to be queenless when it really isn’t.   Brood production is cyclical – a hive can be full of brood one day and have very little only a few days later.  This usually involves an influx of nectar that leaves the queen with few places to lay eggs – at which point the hive may appear to be without a queen.   Depending on the exact circumstances this may or may not result in the hive issuing a swarm.   A hive which has swarmed may be queenless for a few days, and may be broodless for up to 3 weeks or so while it makes a new queen – also appearing to be queenless.  Or you could accidentally squish the queen during an inspection.  None of these circumstances make a hive hopelessly queenless – they all will make a new queen most of the time without beekeeper intervention.   Sometimes (10-30% of the time) something goes wrong though – If a virgin queen fails to return from mating for any reason the hive will then be hopelessly queenless – lacking the resources to make a new queen without help from a beekeeper.   While a queenless hive will pretty much always try to make a new queen it takes about 24 days more or less for that new queen to develop, get mated, and start laying eggs.  For many people – myself and my 50 yr old eyes included – it will be another week before there is brood which is easy to spot.  So about a month between becoming queenless and easily spotting brood.  During that time all of the eggs that the previous queen laid will emerge leaving the hive completely broodless after 24 days – all of the worker brood emerges in 21 days leaving only capped Drone brood.  This can make you think that you have a laying worker or drone laying queen.

Whenever in doubt – give any possibly queenless hive a frame of open brood.  Buying a queen without running this test first is going to be a waste of money about 3 out of 4 times.

Timeline of Queenlessness

No brood of any kind, population weak, laying workers, SHB, robbers, or wax worms taking over – queenless too long to save in my opinion. Shake it out – it’s a lost cause.

No brood of any kind but population strong– hive has been queenless for over three weeks – at least 24 days. If the population is still strong and you can see where they have cleaned out comb for a queen to lay eggs, there is probably a queen that either hasn’t started laying yet or has laid eggs that you are not spotting. Giving it a frame of brood is good luck anyway.

Capped Drone brood only – hive has been queenless for just about 3 weeks.

Lots of capped worker brood, but no open brood at all – queenless for about 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 weeks.

Open larva but no eggs or young brood – Queenless 6-8 days. You should find capped queen cells in a hive like this.

If I Made a hive queenless then I usually try to leave it alone for about 3-4 weeks if I can remember exactly when I did it. I need to keep better records I know. If I find one that looks like it has been queenless for only a couple of weeks or less I look for cells and then leave it alone for a couple of weeks. I always give a hive which has been queenless for over 3 weeks (little if any worker brood)  a frame of young brood from another hive to see if it builds new cells or so as to confirm if it is still queenless – and to ward off laying worker.

Remember – it takes a hive about 12 days to raise a queen, but it takes that queen another week to harden up and get mated, and then another week to start laying.  Then it might be another week before you can spot any brood.  About a whole month from start to finish to produce an easy to find laying queen.

But it only takes a few minutes to give a hive a frame of brood – and avoid disaster.

And by the way – you will not hurt the donating hive by stealing one frame of brood from it – even if you do it every week for a while.  Fear of harming a hive by taking brood from it is very common but almost completely baseless.  Don’t let this imaginary harm cause you to needlessly lose another hive.  If it bothers you then plan back the donation once you get the other hive queenright and healthy again.  But most likely you will see then that there is no need to do so because stealing a frame of brood here and there does little to set back a hive.

Shake it out!

Caution – if a hive has really been queenless for a whole month it is only a few days from a total meltdown which often results in the loss (due to wax moths and hive beetles) of all hive resources – including comb.   There is a point (little or no brood) when the best thing to do is to shake out the hive (carry it 15 yards away and shake all of the bees off of every frame onto the ground – then remove all of the woodenware from the original spot where it sat) and freeze the frames to kill any hive beetle or wax moth eggs which may be present.  If you have to shake out a hive it is not at all a loss, but rather more like a reboot – no bees (except laying workers – all others will beg into other hives) are killed, and no comb, honey, or brood is lost.  After you freeze the frames you can redistribute them and start a new nuc in the same spot using resources from your other hives, and many of the old foragers will even return to it.

Do your inspections!

How to Make a Simple Robber Screen

 

As the nectar flows taper off at this time of year robbing sets in.   If you only have one hive and you know that there are no others nearby then you don’t need to worry about robbing – but the rest of us do.  Robbing is especially a problem when you have strong hives near small, weak or queenless hives – such as splits or mating nucs.  Especially if you are feeding those weaker hives.  There are lots of ways to manage robbing, but in my opinion, except for robber screens they all just nibble around the edges of the problem.  Robber screens work when nothing else will.  Even so, robber screens work much better if deployed before robbing sets in, so don’t wait.  BTW, if you want to you can leave robber screens on all year long – they won’t hinder a strong hive from making a honey crop, and they make excellent mouse guards in winter.

You may not realize that when nectar forage gets scarce robbing goes on all the time – it is stealthy and at a low level most of the time.  It only turns into the classic robbing frenzy under certain conditions – but even the stealth robbing that is much harder to spot can starve a nuc to death and add unnecessary stress to any hive.  I am convinced that it is a much bigger issue than most people think it is – and often why one hive does so well (expert thieves) and another fails to thrive (docile victims) – and is almost inevitable if you have Italian bees (notorious for robbing) in the same yard as Carniolians (famously docile.)

Robber screens work by separating the entrance to the hive from the smell which comes out of it – and since robbers find the entrance by homing in on the smell they go to the wrong place and are kept out by the screen, even though they can smell it.  The home bees will always be confused when you first add a robber screen (unless you do it when you first establish a hive in a new location) but they will figure it out if you give them about a week.  For a few days they will look pretty pathetic, so just try not to look.

Get Started Building a Robber Screen

As woodworking projects go they don’t get much easier than this – almost anyone should be able to build a robber screen like this with a bare minimum of tools.  A hammer and nails, any kind of saw, and a stapler are really all you need.

You can use pretty much any kind of scrap lumber for robber screens, but if you only have hand tools 1×2 furring strips ($3.14 / 8′)  from Lowe’s are really easy to work with.

A robber screen only has 2 critical dimensions – the width…

A robber screen needs to fit fairly tight between the sides of the bottom board – in this example that is about 12 5/16″ but yours will almost certainly differ.

and the height…

A robber screen needs to be lower than the bottom edge of the lid on a single box hive – or the hand hold cleat on a homemade hive body. In this example 5 -5 1/4″ would be about right.
Robber screens can be fitted to any size hive. In this picture the actual entrance is a round hole, and the home bees go in and out over the top of the screen. The bees on the outside of the screen near the entrance hole are robbers.

You don’t even need a tape measure you can just hold your material up to a hive and mark it…

These dimensions will vary depending on what size equipment you have.  Cut two sticks to your width, and 2 sticks the height that you want your screen to be.  You want to be able to use your screen on a single hive body – and don’t forget to take into account cleats that may be on home made hive bodies – your bees will go in and out over the top of the screen so give them enough room for that.  In other words, make them at least 1/2″ short of the lid or cleats when used with a single hive body.

Now that you have your sticks cut to length you will need a piece of screen – I am using aluminum screen wire for this example because it is easy to get and easy to cut with plain old scissors.  Hardware cloth or any kind of mesh will work as long as bees can’t go through it.  Cut your screen a little bit smaller than the finished size of your robber screen.

Staple the screen to one of the long sticks…

Use the side sticks to get the other long stick in position and staple the screen to it.  Now attach the sides.  A dab of exterior grade wood glue will make it more durable, but is not at all required…

Drive only one nail in each corner, and then check the frame for square…

Then finish nailing the corners and stapling the screen.  I suggest that you go ahead and drill two holes (if you have a drill) in the sides so that you can attach your screen with screws if needed…

And that is all there is to it.  Now you can get all the way through until winter without worrying about robbing.

 

Beekeeping tasks this month – June

IMG_8928

It’s June, it’s officially the summer season… what should I be doing as a beekeeper this month?

The following list was published by Dr. John A. Skinner (Professor & Apiculture Specialist @ UT) in the Beekeeping in Tennessee publication from UT (PB 1745), and is available at the following URL: https://utextension.tennessee.edu/publications/documents/PB1745.pdf

Seasonal Management: June

• Combine all swarms issuing after June 1 with weak colonies or feed them constantly until they are a full-sized hive.

• Continue to check for swarm cells every 14 days. Raise the super just above the brood chamber and check for swarm cells along the bottom bars of the frames. If developing cells (not empty cups) are present, a swarm is imminent. Either split the hive to artificially swarm it, or watch for an issuing swarm in coming days.

• Continue to add supers as needed until the honey flow ends.

• Remove the capped honey after June 15. Or after Aug. 15 if in sourwood honey producing areas (usually higher elevations).

• Uncapped honey should be checked for moisture content before extracting.

• Prepare and move your bees to the mountains or the second honey flow (sourwood areas) if you want maximum production.

• Extract the honey immediately to prevent destruction by small hive beetles.

IMG_8928

It’s June, it’s officially the summer season… what should I be doing as a beekeeper this month?

The following list was published by Dr. John A. Skinner (Professor & Apiculture Specialist @ UT) in the Beekeeping in Tennessee publication from UT (PB 1745), and is available at the following URL: https://utextension.tennessee.edu/publications/documents/PB1745.pdf

Seasonal Management: June

• Combine all swarms issuing after June 1 with weak colonies or feed them constantly until they are a full-sized hive.

• Continue to check for swarm cells every 14 days. Raise the super just above the brood chamber and check for swarm cells along the bottom bars of the frames. If developing cells (not empty cups) are present, a swarm is imminent. Either split the hive to artificially swarm it, or watch for an issuing swarm in coming days.

• Continue to add supers as needed until the honey flow ends.

• Remove the capped honey after June 15. Or after Aug. 15 if in sourwood honey producing areas (usually higher elevations).

• Uncapped honey should be checked for moisture content before extracting.

• Prepare and move your bees to the mountains or the second honey flow (sourwood areas) if you want maximum production.

• Extract the honey immediately to prevent destruction by small hive beetles.

June 2016 Meeting

bee-bearding

Monthly Meeting: Our Regular monthly meeting will be on Thursday June 2nd – as usual the meeting will be at Collegeside Church beginning at 6:30PM – the doors will be open at 6:00PM, so come early to discuss bees and how much honey your bees are making!

This month, we’ll be having a guest speaker – Jeff Herel – president of the White County beekeepers club, and our TBA regional VP for middle-Tennessee.  He’ll be presenting to us on a mite treatment method using formic acid.  So come on out and join us and learn.

Beekeeping tasks this month – May

Tulip Poplar - one of our main nectar producing plants - just began blooming in our area.
Tulip Poplar – one of our main nectar producing plants – just began blooming in our area.

It’s May, the poplars are popping and the nectar is flowing… what should I be doing as a beekeeper this month?

The following list was published by Dr. John A. Skinner (Professor & Apiculture Specialist @ UT) in the Beekeeping in Tennessee publication from UT (PB 1745), and is available at the following URL: https://utextension.tennessee.edu/publications/documents/PB1745.pdf

Seasonal Management: May

• It is time to add another super when the honey super on a colony is one-half to two-thirds filled (six to seven frames). A few drawn frames can be moved up into an empty foundation super to encourage the bees to move up.

• Supers of cut comb honey foundation should be added on top of the honey super, which is on top of the brood chamber, to reduce the amount of pollen in the cut comb honey.

• Continue to check for swarm cells every seven to 14 days. Raise the super just above the brood chamber and check for swarm cells along the bottom bars of the frames. If developing cells (not empty cups) are present, a swarm is imminent. Either split the hive to artificially swarm it, or watch for an issuing swarm in coming days.

• Keep empty storage space in the supers on all colonies until the honey flow has ended.

• Remove and extract capped supers from your colonies if you need additional supers.

 

Tulip Poplar - one of our main nectar producing plants - just began blooming in our area.
Tulip Poplar – one of our main nectar producing plants – just began blooming in our area.

It’s May, the poplars are popping and the nectar is flowing… what should I be doing as a beekeeper this month?

The following list was published by Dr. John A. Skinner (Professor & Apiculture Specialist @ UT) in the Beekeeping in Tennessee publication from UT (PB 1745), and is available at the following URL: https://utextension.tennessee.edu/publications/documents/PB1745.pdf

Seasonal Management: May

• It is time to add another super when the honey super on a colony is one-half to two-thirds filled (six to seven frames). A few drawn frames can be moved up into an empty foundation super to encourage the bees to move up.

• Supers of cut comb honey foundation should be added on top of the honey super, which is on top of the brood chamber, to reduce the amount of pollen in the cut comb honey.

• Continue to check for swarm cells every seven to 14 days. Raise the super just above the brood chamber and check for swarm cells along the bottom bars of the frames. If developing cells (not empty cups) are present, a swarm is imminent. Either split the hive to artificially swarm it, or watch for an issuing swarm in coming days.

• Keep empty storage space in the supers on all colonies until the honey flow has ended.

• Remove and extract capped supers from your colonies if you need additional supers.

 

Free Bees!

An easy $100 swarm.

If you are interested in collecting swarms – now is the time.  I just got a call from Midstate pest control -(877) 526-4222 – looking for someone to collect a swarm for a customer of theirs – Midstate does not deal with honey bees apparently.  I personally don’t usually have time to drop everything and go get  swarms at this time of year, but you might.   Midstate said that they get lots of these calls in the spring, and pass them on to anyone who contacts them with an interest in catching swarms.  Other pest control companies probably have the same deal.  

Beekeeping tasks this month – April

027LR Bee Eggs

It’s April, and spring (and brood-rearing) are definitely moving along full-steam-ahead… what should I be doing as a beekeeper this month?

The following list was published by Dr. John A. Skinner (Professor & Apiculture Specialist @ UT) in the Beekeeping in Tennessee publication from UT (PB 1745), and is available at the following URL: https://utextension.tennessee.edu/publications/documents/PB1745.pdf

Seasonal Management: April

• Super colonies for honey production with drawn comb or foundation early in April. Multiple boxes of drawn comb can be used, but only one foundation box at a time is needed.

• Strong colonies will consume large amounts of honey stores in April. If all reserves have been used up, the colonies will starve just prior to the honey flow if prolonged rainy weather sets in. Check stores and feed all colonies that have less than 15 pounds of honey, remove honey supers first. Feeding with honey supers on will contaminate your honey with syrup.

• Check brood chamber for diseases and mites.

• Install package bees in April. Package bees will do well when installed on all new foundation in the hive. When drawn comb and two frames of brood are available, packages get off to a better start.

• Add new foundation for drawing comb in upper hive body during a honey flow.

• Colonies with prolific queens and ample food will be strong in population and may need room. Add a super of drawn comb to relieve crowding.

• By April, you should have developed colony strength to 80,000 worker bees to produce a maximum honey crop.

• Check for the development of the swarming instinct. Raise the super just above the brood chamber and check for swarm cells along the bottom bars of the frames. If developing cells (not empty cups) are present, a swarm is imminent. Either split the hive to artificially swarm it, or watch for an issuing swarm in coming days. Recheck for swarm cells every seven to 14 days.

• April is a good month to divide colonies in advance of swarming instinct.

• Feed package bees 2 gallons of a 1:1 sugar syrup containing Fumidol-B. Package bees often suffer from nosema disease.

• Prepare supers with cut comb foundation just prior to using them.

• Remove entrance reducer from overwintered strong colonies by mid-April.

027LR Bee Eggs

It’s April, and spring (and brood-rearing) are definitely moving along full-steam-ahead… what should I be doing as a beekeeper this month?

The following list was published by Dr. John A. Skinner (Professor & Apiculture Specialist @ UT) in the Beekeeping in Tennessee publication from UT (PB 1745), and is available at the following URL: https://utextension.tennessee.edu/publications/documents/PB1745.pdf

Seasonal Management: April

• Super colonies for honey production with drawn comb or foundation early in April. Multiple boxes of drawn comb can be used, but only one foundation box at a time is needed.

• Strong colonies will consume large amounts of honey stores in April. If all reserves have been used up, the colonies will starve just prior to the honey flow if prolonged rainy weather sets in. Check stores and feed all colonies that have less than 15 pounds of honey, remove honey supers first. Feeding with honey supers on will contaminate your honey with syrup.

• Check brood chamber for diseases and mites.

• Install package bees in April. Package bees will do well when installed on all new foundation in the hive. When drawn comb and two frames of brood are available, packages get off to a better start.

• Add new foundation for drawing comb in upper hive body during a honey flow.

• Colonies with prolific queens and ample food will be strong in population and may need room. Add a super of drawn comb to relieve crowding.

• By April, you should have developed colony strength to 80,000 worker bees to produce a maximum honey crop.

• Check for the development of the swarming instinct. Raise the super just above the brood chamber and check for swarm cells along the bottom bars of the frames. If developing cells (not empty cups) are present, a swarm is imminent. Either split the hive to artificially swarm it, or watch for an issuing swarm in coming days. Recheck for swarm cells every seven to 14 days.

• April is a good month to divide colonies in advance of swarming instinct.

• Feed package bees 2 gallons of a 1:1 sugar syrup containing Fumidol-B. Package bees often suffer from nosema disease.

• Prepare supers with cut comb foundation just prior to using them.

• Remove entrance reducer from overwintered strong colonies by mid-April.