BEEKEEPER'S CALENDAR - April
APRIL AND THE BEES:
Now 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.
APRIL AND THE BEEKEEPING:
April begins the busiest season for the beekeeper.
Inspect all hives and take appropriate actions based upon the condition of the individual hive. Keep feeding your weaker hives until the heavy nectar flow is in progress; feeding helps the bees build up. No supers should be on your weaker hives 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.
Some parts of 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. Also, inspect your hive for any abnormalities. You want to see a solid brood laying pattern from your queen. If not, consider replacing her now!
A majority of packages will be installed during the month of April. Make sure that you are familiar 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.
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. It takes money and time to requeen the hive and to continue to work it. It would be far better to combine it to another hive if it is disease and pest free, and the newly combined single hive has a much better chance of thriving. Take the chance that the new hive may be strong enough to split during the summer. After all, a weak hive is an invitation for pests and disease. Strong hives chase away pests and disease. So, your weak hive could spread disease to all your other hives. Don't take the chance. Keep your hives strong.
RED ALERT!! BEES SWARM IN APRIL (sometimes late March!)
You will have 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. However, 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.