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Monthly Tasks - March

• These notes assume a reasonably mild month.
• If your colony does not build up the bees may have Nosema (try feeding sugar syrup containing menthol or thymol at 0.1%).
• Check on the smell of the hive by raising the cover board and smell; a cold and dank hive may have died; ammonia or mousy smell check for a mouse; decay and horrible smell may mean brood disease.
• Early in March do not inspect the bees unless you have a good reason so to do. In mid March (or at dandelion time), give a gallon of 1:1 sugar syrup in a contact feeder.
• If you have over wintered on double brood or brood and half (brood plus super without excluder) towards the end of the month move the topmost box to the bottom. This will encourage the queen to move up into the brood box that you will use for the rest of the season and the workers will take any honey up to as well to maintain food stocks near the laying frames.
• Remove mouse guards and close down the cover board to the brood box.
• If you have a hive which is very strong take a frame of emerging brood from it and give the frame to a weaker hive but don’t put the strong colony in jeopardy by doing so.
• Check hives for food, lift the crown board and check the size and position of the cluster relative to the top bar, if the bees are at the top feed them.
• Check for the queen by moving the cover board back, remove the dummy frame, then the outer frame checking it for food, then the next frame (check for food) until you see brood then close up immediately.
• Do not inspect (as apposed to checking) the hive until the Flowering Currant is in bloom. The size of the hive can be estimated by the number of frames being used in the cluster, there are usually 4 to 7 seams of bees to a cluster Make plans to replace queens that are 18 months old during the coming season.
• Remember throughout the year to keep the apiary tidy, replace with foundation at least one third of your brood combs a year in every brood box, do not stress your bees unnecessarily by too many internal inspections.
• Using a mesh floor check for varroa. A sample of thirty bees can be taken for microscopic examination for Nosema and for dissection for Acarine.
• Do keep records of what you do and when and why. Next year it will give you a great reference point.
• Consider whether you will give your bees just a brood box this season or try a brood and a half. If the latter, prepare sufficient supers and plan to put them on the bees in April. This method will give you very large numbers of bees quite early in the season. Talk to fellow beekeepers about this method but remember every beekeeper has a different method!

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