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.