This blog explains how I keep bees. It works for me, it might not work for you. Use my methods at your own risk. Always wear protective clothing and use a smoker when working bees.

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Sunday, April 8, 2007

April, Time to get busy (click photo's to enlarge)

Note the pollen patty I put on 10 days ago is almost gone.

Scrape clean the bottom board, notice the boxes on the tele cover. Both boxes had bees in them. A strong colony. Heavy with food.

After the reversal another pollen patty.
April is the time for spring cleaning and an expanding bee population.
This cold weather we have been having has made it difficult to take down the hive to clean the bottom board and has delayed reversals.
When the weather warms up it is time to break down the hive too clean the bottom board. Debris from the winter has accumulated on the bottom board. Warmer weather will let the bees use the lower entrance and we have to help them with housekeeping.
When we break apart the hive temps should be in the higher forty's. Work quickly and have a plan on what you are going to do before you break apart the hive.
Have a box with for the debris. It is not uncommon to have an inch of dead bees and wax capping's covering the bottom board. Leaving debris in the beeyard will attract predators.
Smoke the hive and remove the cover. I like to turn this upside down and set bee boxes on it while working the hive.
Keep smoking the hive every time a box is broken apart. Don't asphyxiate them with smoke. A few good puffs is usually enough. As the boxes are broken apart don't set them on end. Keep the boxes horizontal with the ground. If the boxes are set on the end with the frames vertical with the ground the cold spring breeze will blow though the frames. This cold breeze can chill the brood and cause death of the brood at the time we are trying too build the population.
Get down to the bottom board and use your hive tool to scrape the debris off the bottom board.
As we put the hive back together a reversal is in order if we have 4 frames of bees or more. If we have 3 hive bodies, I like to move the two top boxes down and the bottom box to the top. This helps keep any brood together if the queen has layed some brood in the middle box. A two high colony is a simple reversal.
Also check for food stores and pollen. We need enough food too keep the bees alive until the dandelions bloom. It is important not too overfeed. Too much syrup can plug up the brood nest and leave the queen with no place too lay.
Pollen patties are important. Put them on even if they are bringing in natural pollen. This cold snap is a good example of bees not being able too get pollen and a fall back plan of a pollen patty will help for proper brood production.
Package bees will be arriving this month.