Things are really starting to pick up. We are finally getting warm weather and less rain. Plum, black cherry, oak and birch are in bloom in addition to dandelions. A few of the stronger overwintered hives are even putting something in the honey supers.
I have been primarily focusing on getting the new packages and winter nucs installed and fed. It appears the winter nucs are about 4 weeks ahead of my mid-April packages in hive buildup. The winter nucs have managed to fill both brood chambers at this point, while the new packages are still working on the first brood chamber. This means the hives made from winter nucs will be able to gather more honey than those made with packages. I need to remember this fact this fall when making my winter plans.
In my last report I discussed making bee and brood transfusions into a few of the weaker overwintered hives. This was simply transferring in 2 frames of bees and brood from strong hives to weak hives. Two of the three hives getting the transfusions have started to boom. Unfortunately, the third went queenless.
While stealing larvae for queen rearing, I noted one of the strong hives had several swarm cells at the bottom of frames. Some were capped and some uncapped with viable larvae in them. The hive appeared to be set to swarm in about one weeks time; weather permitting. I transferred the frames with queen cells to the above mentioned queenless hive. This action will delay swarming of the strong hive, but probably not stop it. So I then went in and removed 3 frames of bees and capped brood. These frames were installed in a new package hive to speed its buildup.
Now that I am seeing swarm cells I will be putting out several swarm traps in hopes o catching swarms from my hives that I may not catch overwise.
I have also been randomly checking hives to verify they are queenright. In the past week I found two that were not. One was queenless and the second had a queen but she was not laying. Previously both hives had multiple frames full of capped brood. Now most of the brood has emerged.
Here’s what you should be doing in the next few weeks.
1) From the above you can see the importance of checking your hives every other week to verify that they are queenright. You need to do this to prevent a laying worker situation.
2) The stronger hives also need to be monitored for swarm cells, especially for about the next six weeks when the prime swarm season is upon us.
3) Get your honey supers ready and get them installed on strong hives. This will lessen crowding, prevent the brood frames from getting honey bound and also maximize your honey crop.
4) Putting out swarm traps baited with brood comb and an attractant.