Beekeeper’s Calendar – May

Monthly Beekeeping Guide

May & the bees:

Bees are in full operation now that it is May. You should stop feeding strong hives, now, because they should be bringing in lots of nectar and pollen. The hive is expanding rapidly. The brood chambers will be filling up fast and becoming crowded and congested.

*URGENT RED ALERT – Honey bees swarm in May, take swarm precautions and be alert to potential swarming behavior!

May & the beekeeper:

You will have to implement a swarm control strategy. Keep in mind that bees swarm as a way of multiplying. It is not a sign of being a poor beekeeper. Become familiar with signs that the colony is preparing to swarm (do some research on this topic). However, there are some important steps to implement that will hopefully prevent swarming. Remember, you must provide room for your hive to expand. Additionally, you should put on honey supers with DRAWN COMB (not frames with just foundation) in May. Put on as many as you would like. It is a good practice to have a minimum of two honey supers on all hives during the nectar season. Three or four supers of drawn comb are even better to stimulate honey storage.

If you have to use foundation filled frames in the supers, only place one super on at a time, giving sufficient time for workers to draw 6-7 frames of comb before adding the next super. Add new foundation-filled super underneath the one where bees have already drawn comb; this “bottom supering” will encourage worker bees to draw comb in frames in the new super. Do not wait to add your supers or you may miss particular nectar flows.

Consider having a few extra, empty deep hive bodies on hand so you will be able to capture a swarm. You will want to be able to capture your own swarms, and you will probably receive phone calls once your neighbors learn that you’re a beekeeper. Several “swarm calls” are received each week throughout the spring and summer months, seeking local beekeepers to remove honey bees.

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