It’s the start of the busy season in the bee yard! Extracting honey may be harder work, but spring management of the hives is demanding and important to the success of your hives.
First – Generally, for over wintered hives DO NOT FEED SS or pollen substitute once they are flying and bringing in food. Unless your inspection shows no food. Many hives starve in early April as they consume food to raise brood.
April normally brings some warm days (60-70) that allow you to open the hives, especially if sunny. How strong is your hive? If real strong you will want to keep an extra eye on them. By now almost all hives should be in the top box, either the upper deep or the super. If the Queen is laying in the super you will want to move her down into the deep and put on a queen excluder. At least until the brood in the super emerges.
Reverse the deeps? Another decision is whether to reverse the deeps. Many beekeepers move the top deep down to the bottom and then place the bottom deep on top. Why? Bees like to move up and it appears there is more room to expand. Maybe slow the swarm urge. Close the insert as the lower part of the hive will be colder and there is brood.
If you have more than one hive, consider equalizing your hives in the spring. This time of year, you should find a couple frames of brood. By the end of April 4 -6 frames. If you find one hive with more frames and one a bit weaker, it is OK to move a frame of brood to even up the hives and slow down the swarm urge.
When to add supers? The next step is to decide when to put a super on your hive. If you see pollen coming in, they are making babies! Get ready. I believe it is better to put supers on a bit early than too late. If you have supers of drawn comb put two supers on from the start. They will need the room to store the nectar while drying it. If starting with foundation one super is good until 8-9 frames are drawn. Then add the second. STOP FEEDING SS when you put a super on!
Fresh white burr or drone comb means they have nectar coming in and need room.
If you see dropped pollen or the bees are backing up, remove the mouse guard.
This much drone brood on April 7 suggests a very strong hive. Watch it close!
Not necessary if you have E & L, but always nice to spot her.
If you find too much brood or food put one or two supers on. Better early!
If you decide to move some frames to another hive you'll know which ones without having to check them all again.