Beekeeper’s Calendar -April

Monthly Beekeeping Guide

April & the bees:

Now colony is very close to being fully operational. There will still be a few cold snaps, especially in early April, but by the last two weeks the weather should be good for bees to expand rapidly, and begin bringing in more nectar and pollen. The queen is well into her laying routine now – laying upwards of 1000-2500 eggs per day! The colony numbers should hopefully be expanding nicely.

April & the beekeeper:

Keep Feeding! Feeding helps the bees build up. No supers should be on your hive yet, so their intake of sugar is not going into your honey product. You are just feeding to help the hive get off to a great start. Keep the higher protein pollen patties on top of the frames as well. As temps warm up, you can remove entrance reducers.

April can be cold and wet, which means that your bees may have limited opportunities to fly out for food. Therefore, you must continue to inspect the hive every 7-10 days to be sure they have enough food stores. Also, inspect your hive regularly for any abnormalities. You want to see a solid brood laying pattern from your queen. If not, consider replacing her now. Be sure you can find a nearby queen supplier before you kill your old queen. New queens usually lay better.

Reverse your brood chambers (deep hive bodies). This is extremely important as it gives more space for the queen to lay eggs. It also serves as one of the best preventative actions, along with queen replacement, for swarming behavior. The reason for this is that the queen and workers naturally work in an upward direction through the hive. Simply take the top deep brood box and place it on the bottom board, and place the one that was previously on the bottom on top. Only do so if the brood cluster is completely in the top hive box. You do not want to divide the brood cluster if it is situated partially in both top and bottom hive boxes!

If your bees are no longer taking supplemental sugar, discontinue, and put honey supers on, as the bees will now begin collecting nectar from dandelions, maple and locust trees, and other early blossoming plants and trees.

This is a great time to equalize your hives. You may have to combine weak hives with strong ones. Even though beekeepers know better, every year they seem to become too compassionate towards a struggling hive and try to nurse them back to health. Occasionally, it is possible, but more often than not it is not worth the effort. it is costly to spend too much time on a struggling hive. It takes money and time to requeen the hive and to continue to work with it. It would be far better to combine it with another hive, as long as it is disease and pest free. After all, a weak hive is an invitation for pests and disease. Strong hives chase away pests and disease. Therefore, your weak hive could spread disease to all your other hives. Do not take the chance; keep your hives strong.

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