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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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!
Ever wondered where bees go in the winter? Take a look at the winter survival strategies
of native bumblebees, and native solitary bees.
This guide features regional native plants for the Great Lakes that are highly
attractive to native bees and honey bees.