It’s been a busy two weeks for the bees. We have been running around doing the spring gathering of new equipment and new beehives. We added a few new hives to our apiary this year. We decided to purchase bees from a couple locations. This will give us just a bit more diversity in the yards and allow us to make the hives that work best for us.
We purchased a bit of new bee gear and have spent multiple evenings teaching our little bee keeper the joy of assembling and painting new bee boxes.
For those who use this as a bit of a guide this is where we are at. It may not be best or worst but it is what works for us.
May is when we grow. We have looked at all of our older hives by now. When we look at them we check for a few things. First is that the queen is laying and that have good numbers of bees in the hive. We pull all the boxes, inspecting each as we go. Then we clean off the bottom board. Bees do a good job at housekeeping but this gives them a little hand in the process.
Now when bees winter in a hive they move to the top, eating honey as they move up. This means they end up at the top of the hive. This is often where they start the new season. So when we put the hive back together after the cleaning we put the box with the brood (baby bees) on the bottom. We then add a box above for growth. If they are a really booming hive we will "calm it down" just a little by pulling a few frames of brood and replacing them with empty frames. This gives the bees a bit of space and helps us avoid swarming. The frames we pull we will add to other hives that are weak or we will make a split (a new hive).
Living up this far north we are a bit behind most areas. So all of our new hives all get a bit of bee food to help them get started. We will remove the food before we add our honey supers to assure we only get the best wildflower honey!
We start our mite treatments around the first of May. This will assure a good buildup of bees and we will be finished before we apply the honey supers. In the next week we will begin to let our bees do what they do. We will open the lids on each hive and be sure they don't need more space. Other than that they will be left alone. We take a very hands off approach to the bees in the spring. We want them happy and find that tearing into the hive once a week seems to cause more issues than good. That being said if you are a new beekeeper, open that hive and give it a good look every week or two. The value of what you will learn is well worth any disturbance to the bees. You will both benefit from the knowledge you will gain!
Checklist for this point
- Open hive and tear it down to clean bottom board
- Reverse boxes so brood are at bottom if need
- Treat for mites starting May 1
- Get any new hives you’re adding going and give them feed as need
- Split any booming hives as needed to grow and avoid swarms
- Paint new gear and get honey supers ready!