- Begin thorough and regular inspections of the brood comb.
- Work old comb to the outside so that it can be removed and replaced. Old comb harbours disease and should be replaced systematically as good practice. Aim to change one third of the frames each year.
- Place new frames and foundation either side of the brood nest to allow the queen to increase her nest size.
Congestion can cause swarming. If necessary remove outside frames, but ensure enough food and pollen remains. (Frames with food can be given back in the Autumn after storing in a freezer.)
- Check whether your bees are making honey from oil seed rape: if so remove and extract the supers as soon as they are full. (Oil Seed Rape honey will crystallise very quickly in the comb.)
Additional supers may now be required.
- Consider one or more ‘bait hives’ in the apiary to catch swarms.
- Continue to examine at 7 or 14 day intervals for any signs of disease or swarming.
- The brood should be able to fill most of the brood chamber this month.
- Swarming will continue through June so continue to be vigilant.
- You may be able to take off some frames of capped honey or even complete supers. Ensure you have empty frames or supers to replace those taken.
July and August
- Swarming should be over by early July, allowing the colony to concentrate on collecting nectar.
- Set up wasp traps a few metres from your hives (jam jars containing water and a spoonful of jam work well).
- Honey can be harvested in early August allowing the bees to keep what more they make for themselves.
- After the honey has been harvested, remove the queen excluder, and put a crown board below any supers that you are leaving on to be cleaned out.
- Treat the brood box for varroa (Apiguard gel or ApiLife Var strips are recommended). Record the varroa drop in the following two weeks so that you know how badly your colonies are infested.
- In early August reduce the size of the entrance so the diminishing colony can defend itself against wasps.