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Beekeeper Tips for May

  1. As the honey flow begins in most of the nation, your hive should be reaching its peak population. Check your hive weekly to ensure the bees have enough room. In some areas, bees can bring in up to 10 pounds of nectar per day!
  2. If you are adding supers of foundation rather than comb, you may need to feed the bees for a few days or weeks to encourage them to begin drawing out foundation. Once they have drawn out a fist-size piece of comb on three to four frames, you can stop feeding, add a queen excluder, and let the bees continue drawing out the foundation naturally.
  3. Using a queen excluder is optional. If you do not use one, your queen will move up into your honey supers and lay eggs. In many cases, as the bees fill the box with honey, they will begin forcing the queen back down into the lower brood box. However, you will typically still have a few frames of brood left in the super. This is not a problem but an inconvenience that will be addressed as we pull honey. If you do use a queen excluder, be sure the bees have begun to draw out a fist-sized piece of comb on three to four frames before adding it. Bees will not travel through a queen excluder to draw out foundation if they have not already started.
  4. If you have started with nucs or packages, continue feeding them until they are ready for their first super, which is when 75% of the frames in the first box are drawn and covered with bees. At that point add your first super and follow the instructions from point #2.
  5. If queens were not available in March or April, splits or requeening can easily be done in May, but do not expect a honey crop. Check out our April issue for more on splits and requeening.
  6. Begin providing ventilation for hives by using a screened bottom board or slightly cracking the lid. If you already have a screened bottom board and it’s been closed off for the winter, remove that board completely.

When should you add a honey super? Check out this short video!



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