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April 2016 - Spring Checkup and Package Preparation

Greetings from your WCBA president. My intent is to give pertinent beekeeping tips to you each month so that you will be able to plan the work that needs to be accomplished to keep your bees healthy, strong and productive. These tips are based on the timeline and the way I keep bees.

April 4, 2016: You should be ready for their new bee packages. They will arrive about the 15th of this month. Your new hives should be painted and set in place, ready to house the new package. If these bees are replacements it is an advantage to use drawn comb, the queen doesn’t have to wait for the comb to be drawn by the new bees before she starts laying eggs. We will discuss installation of packages at our next bee club meeting, Wednesday April 13.

It is time to do a spring inspection on all the hives that survived winter. Open the hive and look for eggs, brood, and nectar. There should be several frames of sealed brood with lots of larva and lots of bees. There should be drone cells. Check for resources, disease, and queen cells or queen cups. If they are low on honey, you need to feed. Frames of honey are best if you have any. You can take from a hive that has plenty or from a dead-out. Plan to re-queen hives that have a poorly performing queen (i.e., small brood pattern or a pattern that is not dense). Queen cells are your opportunity to try your hand a making a split, this will be discussed at the next bee club meeting. It is likely you will find the bees preparing for a split by making queen cups. Check these for eggs or larva. If they have eggs or larva when they are capped they become what we call queen cells.

Spring is also the time of the year for swarms. You can put out swarm traps or get on the Club’s Swarm List to get called to capture a swarm. You’ll need to have an extra hive body or nuc box (depending on the size of the swarm) set up ready to accept a swarm. This hive should have several frames of honey and several frames of drawn comb. The drawn comb will allow the queen to settle in and go to laying eggs right away. The honey will entice them to stay in their new home. Swarms and splits are a great way to grow your bee yard.

This is the busy time of the year in the bee yard, so clean up your hive tool, get the smoker fueled, and your PPE inspected and cleaned. As Bruce Buffer (a UFC cage fighting announcer) says ”IT’S TIME !!”.

Do you want to Learn more about beekeeping? Then attend our club meetings where seasoned and new beekeepers share their knowledge and experiences.  Come and join us, we would love to meet you and share our knowledge. We meet the second Wednesday of every month in the Sagebrush Room at the Mesa County Fairground.

Howard “Howdy” Martsolf

WCBA President