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This month in the apiary

Thoughts on this month in beekeeping by Janine Sparks

MAY 2022

Well what a lovely sunny month April was, and I hope you have taken the opportunity to go in to look at your bees on one of the many warm sunny days.  My bees have been building up really quickly with nectar and pollen coming in, and the queens are laying well.  On my second inspection this month, I observed drones, play cups and plenty of brood, so I have just started my annual demaree to get them onto clean kit, to reduce the presence of any nosema spores and hopefully prevent them from swarming.  I want to use the opportunity to make increase also, to repopulate the colony I lost over winter.

1. What is going on in the hive?

The queen will be laying well now as we progress towards the summer, and the foragers are bringing in nectar and pollen to feed the growing family. 

2. Check your hives

The forecast looks fine for the next couple of weeks and plenty of stores should be coming in, as the bees take advantage of the spring flowers.  One of the most important things to do is to make sure your bees have plenty of room – so prepare spare supers so that you can pop one on before they need it.

You should be into regular inspections now, once a week is ideal because you want to find any queen cells before they are capped (after 8 days), which is when a colony will swarm. 

In your regular inspections:

  • Do you see the queen or evidence of the queen (eggs, larvae brood in all stages).
  • What does the brood pattern look like?  If it is patchy, it could indicate that the queen is failing, or a brood disease.
  • Look out for evidence of disease.
  • What is the temperament like?
  • Do you see drones?
  • Do you see queen cells? Have your swarm prevention plan to hand.  Just destroying any queen cells normally just delays the problem, so be ready to manage this situation.
  • Are there sufficient stores – nectar and pollen?
  • Is there enough room?  If in doubt, add another super!

Don’t forget to keep records updated!

3. Check the larder

Bluebells, tulips, lily of the valley, soft fruit, apple tree blossom – such a wonderful choice of forage for our bees.  I note that the laurel has been flowering recently also – early I think this year.  Plus there are many wild flowers out now including dandelions.  Why not participate in No Mow May this year so that those wild flowers can add to the diversity of your bee’s menu?