What a beautiful day to get outside and work with the bees. A little spring cleaning was needed in our bee yard, as well as getting a hive moved off the property for bee pick up day.
I removed the winter cover to do the clean-up, but I will be putting it back on. I err on the side of caution because in Minnesota you never know what the weather is going to do, and there is no rush to take them off. I will remove them when I’m ready to split.
When breaking down a colony in the spring, do not put a box up on end. If there is a breeze the wind can go through the box which can chill the brood and kill them. Keep the brood boxes parallel to the ground. Plan ahead and bring an empty cardboard box with you as the bottom board may be full of debris. I had forgotten my cardboard box, so don’t forget yours! Luckily, there wasn’t that many dead bees on the bottom board. The dead bees attract pests and make those weeds grow in your bee yard, so put them in a box and dispose of them.
When breaking down the hive, you will need to assess their food storage. If the hive has three frames of honey in the same box the bees are in, it should be enough food for two weeks. If you need to move a frame or two of honey where the bees are, you can do that. You don’t want to give the bees too many honey frames. The hive should have about 5-6 relatively empty frames for laying. I had already begun feeding my hive. It ran out of food early and I needed to feed. Feed syrup if needed, but do not over feed. Pollen patties were placed on all my hives as of a couple weeks ago, and on this hive you can see it’s almost gone. I will be adding another pollen patty on the hive after I’m done with the clean-up.
You will want to make sure your Queen is laying. Pull a frame or two out of the top box. The J-hook hive tool we have makes it super easy to pull out those frames. I saw honey, pollen, brood, and an emerging bee, which is a great sign! So, I don’t need to look further. Strong colonies can be reversed. If you have a weak hive, it may be too early to reverse. A reversal will give the bees an opportunity to expand.
When doing a reversal, make sure you remember the box number.
1 top 3 bottom
2 middle 1 top
3 bottom 2 middle
Two deep reversal:
1 top 2 bottom
2 bottom 1 top
I will be checking the hives weekly, doing reversals, and adding pollen patties as needed as it will increase the hive population. I will plan to split in May or when I have 8 frames of capped brood and bees. I’ve had a couple people asking about walk away splits. In Minnesota the drone population usually isn’t large enough and temperature can always become a factor. It is best to buy a mated queen. We will have Queens available for sale end of April or early May.
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