Package bees are starting to build up. New bees should be emerging and the hive populations should be growing. Beekeepers who started their packages a month ago, should have their second box on now. When adding the second box, the entrance reducer should be increased to the bigger opening. If the hive is on foundation, feeding of syrup must continue so the bees can continue to make wax on the new foundation. Failure to feed, will delay the expansion of the hive and wax will not be constructed and the hive population will suffer. Pollen patties should still be on package bee colonies until around mid June.
Package bees on drawn comb should be fed as needed. If there are several frames of honey from last season in the hive, say two to three full frames of honey in each box, no syrup is needed. Pollen patties should be offered for the next month.
Overwintered colonies may be in several different situations. Some colonies are getting ready to swarm and should be divided. Some colonies are not quite ready to divide today, but will be ready to divide within the next week or so. Some colonies are too weak to divide and will not be able to divide this year but should still be able to build up for the nectar flow. The weak colonies should have at least four frames of bees and brood right now. Any thing less than this really needs a frame of brood added to the colony, to increase the hives population. Pollen patties should be offered to the bees. I usually put 1/2 a patty on the hives until about early June. This guarantees that the hive has pollen for the brood no matter what the weather is.
The bloom in May:
The spring flowers and fruit bloom is about 10 to 14 days behind schedule.
Right now dandelions are blooming everywhere. They are just getting going and should be more numbers blooming this week with the warm sunny weather. Strong Overwintered colonies should have supers on the hives right now. There is an opportunity of one or two supers of Dandelion honey. The fruit bloom is just starting to happen. Wild plums are blooming and the bees love the pollen offered. If you have some Wild Plums, they are usually form into a thicket. Take some time and stand in the flowering Plum trees, experience the sweet smell of the blossoms and watch the pollinators work the flowers.
Right now is ice cream time for the bees. Especially in the urban and suburb areas. Dandelions, flowering crab trees, all variety of fruit trees, flowering shrubs are or will be blooming soon. There will be pollen available everywhere, some nectar from many sources. The huge variety of pollen should be able to give the bees a wide variety of protein and a balanced diet, to aid in the hives buildup of brood and bees.
This pollen and nectar flow should last about three weeks. After that there may be two weeks of very little pollen coming in until early to mid June. Pollen patties should be on during this pollen dearth.
The weather is getting better, pollen is getting better, hives are getting better, the season if finally moving forward and everything is creeping towards the main nectar flow that will probably will start in late June or early July. It may be sooner if we get a period of unseasonal warm temperatures.