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Bees flying in meadow pollinating flowers

Beekeeping In April

In April, the bees are in full swing. There will still be a few cold snaps, especially in early April, but by the last two weeks, the weather is good for bees to rapidly expand and to even start bringing in more and more nectar and pollen.

The heaviest nectar flows begin in the third week of April and will normally last for about two months. The queen is laying well now. The hive is expanding rapidly.

In very the early spring, trees and shrubs with early blooms are critical for honey bees and our native bees Read about how early-blooming trees provide needed resources for bees: Trees For Bees

Keep Feeding

Feeding helps the bees build up. No supers are on your hive yet, so their intake of sugar is not going into your honey product. You are just feeding to help the hive off to a great start. Keep the pollen patties on top too. April can be cold and wet which means that your bees may have limited opportunities to fly out for food. So you must continue to inspect the hive to be sure they have enough food stores.

When a significant amount of brood is being laid, which happens through May, bees are on a constant search for water and pollen; both are required to raise healthy brood. You may see your bees sucking the moisture from potted plants or puddles, pulling trace minerals in the “dirty” water up as they suck up the water.

April Beekeeper Tasks

Honey Bee Pollinating Red Maple Tree Flower

  A majority of packages will be installed during the month of April. Make sure that you are familiar (or re-familiarize yourself) with the requirements for starting packages and provide sufficient care to ensure their success.

  Once your bees are no longer taking the sugar feeding, discontinue, put supers on, as the bees are now collecting nectar from a growing number of sources; maple trees, locust trees and other early spring flowering plants and trees.

  If your colony didn’t survive, make sure your hive is ready for your new bees, which could arrive at any time.

  Install bees into brand new hives as well as the hives from colonies that didn’t survive

  This is a great time to equalize your hives. You may have to combine weak hives with strong ones. Even though they know better, every year some beekeepers seem to become too compassionate toward a struggling hive, and try to nurse them back to health. Although some success may be experienced, it is usually not worth it. It is costly to spend too much time on a struggling hive.

  Sort reusable comb and harvest all the unusable. Save the bad comb for future wax rendering

  If your hive had mice in it we recommend doing a diluted bleach rinse on the empty hive and letting it air dry completely before putting anything back in

  If your colony survived, continue feeding the 1:1 water to sugar solution until you see flowers blooming. It’s always nice to plant a patch of early blooming flowers near your bees to give them the earliest possible spring start

  If your colony survived but the queen is struggling, consider requeening the hive

RED ALERT!  Bees Swarm In April

Honey Bee Swarm

You will want to implement a swarm management strategy. Keep in mind that bees swarm as a way of multiplying. It is not a sign of being a poor beekeeper. There are some important steps to implement to try to prevent swarming. Keep in mind that you must provide room for your hive to expand. And, you should put on honey supers no later than early April.

Put on as many supers of drawn comb as you'd like. Some experts think it is good practice to have a minimum of two drawn honey supers on all hives during the nectar season. Three or four supers are even better. Don't wait to add your supers or you may miss particular nectar flows. Get all supers on by April 1st!

Consider having extra, empty hives on hand so you'll be able to capture a swarm. You will want to capture your own swarms or you will probably receive phone calls once your neighbors learn you are a beekeeper. Some beekeepers receive several calls each week all spring and summer.

Beekeeper Reading List

Here are a few books that might be of help!!

  Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees by Thor Hanson
  Honeybee Democracy by Thomas D. Seeley
  Dancing With Bees: A Journey Back to Nature by Brigit Strawbridge Howard
  Our Native Bees by Paige Embry

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Try The Honeybee Quiz

Take this quick quiz and see how much you know about honey bee anatomy. Honey Bees play an important role in pollination. Give the quiz a try!

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