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Monthly Tasks - April

• A feed of 4 litres of 1:1 sugar solution will help hives below 4 kg of stores. For those hives found to be in dire need keep feeding until nectar becomes available. The solution also prompts the queen to lay but make sure there is plenty of pollen about as bees need both carbohydrates and protein to thrive.
• Colonies on double brood boxes normally will not require feeding if stores of 20 kg were available at the end of September. The lower box can be placed above the top box where most (all) of the brood will be residing.
• The first internal hive inspection can safely be carried out on a warm day when the flowering currant has bloomed. Check for brood, brood health and stores (at least 5 kg) and make a note of them in your records. Now is a good time to mark your queens.
• If you find the hive is queen-less and the colony has three frames of bees give it a frame of eggs and emerging brood from a thriving colony that you would like to promote i.e. gentle bees, into the middle of the bees cluster and feed a litre of 1:1 sugar syrup; in five days check for queen cells and if found leave alone for at least 3 weeks. Make sure when you move this frame that you gently shake the frame to remove foragers but keep nurse bees. This will ensure you have a good covering of bees to keep the larva and eggs warm and the right sort of bees to feed the new queen larva.
• If you winter with a super under your brood box place the super on a queen excluder on top of the brood box, making sure your queen is in the brood box.
• Place a super of drawn comb on the brood box, over a queen excluder, two weeks before the rape comes into flower and put on another super (with comb or foundation) when the rape flowers, and keep weekly checks for more supers.
• Strong colonies can be weakened and weak colonies made stronger by exchanging frames of emerging brood (with their bees but no queen) with an empty frame or a frame of foundation. Make sure the bees are healthy.
• Before you bees swarm have spare equipment to permit an artificial swarm to be performed; e.g. brood box, floor, cover board and roof.
• At the end of the month you can start rearing your own queens. Look up a simple method and try breeding one queen (see Wilson, Cloake, etc in D Sims’ book “60 years with bees”).
• Start checking for queen cells every 7 days as soon as the rape is in flower. If you find queen cells carry out an artificial swarm.
• If you have solid floors change them for clean floors, Clean the old floor with brush and torch.
• Place a dummy board into every brood box. This is much easier to remove than a comb when you are inspecting the hive.
• Start replacing old brood combs about now. Read the books on the best method but make sure you don’t split the nest area. Your bees will be healthier and less likely to swarm.
• Prepare your strategies for the oncoming swarming season. Read to books, decide on your approach and get the resources you need ready now. If you can’t decide ask an experienced beekeeper.

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