- Estimate colony strength:
- Equalize your good colonies.
- Combine disease-free, weak colonies with strong ones.
- Note Bene! Exchange or combine equipment from different hives ONLY after establishing that they are free of disease (see IPM section).
- Evaluate queen:
- Make sure the queen is present. If you do not find her, be sure that you see eggs.
- Check several brood combs for brood quality, which is an indicator of queen quality. A good queen will lay a solid brood pattern with few skips. The fewer the skips, the better the queen. All of the combs need not be good, but most of them should have solid patterns.
- Requeen as needed. Check for acceptance in 7 days.
- Swarm control:
- Reverse brood chambers if needed. You will need to do this if the upper hive body is filled with bees and brood and the bottom hive bottom is relatively empty.
- Cut swarm cells.
- Clip and mark queen to allow for identification and to reduce swarming. Clipping a queen will not stop swarming, but it may delay it a few days, giving you time to initiate other swarm prevention measures.
- Pull nucs or make splits from strong colonies. This is a critical element of swarm control. If your brood nest is filled with bees and brood and the colony is producing swarm cells, it is imperative that you reduce the population by removing 1 - 5 combs of bees and capped brood. Use these combs to equalize colonies or to establish nucs or additional colonies. Exceptionally strong colonies may be split in half, depending on your needs.
- Super as needed. This is another critical element of swarm control. If you need to make a nuc or a split, you also need to add supers. If the bees are not working the supers, check to see if the colony is honey bound. Raise honey bound combs and other full combs of honey out of the brood nest and into a honey super. Never raise eggs or young larvae above the excluder as the bees may rear a queen.
- Protocol for the use of foundation.
- Signs that you need to super include:
- Bees and brood filling both brood chambers
- White wax being deposited on top bars
- Swarm cells present
- Bees hanging out on front of hive.
- Continue stimulative feeding until natural pollen and nectar are consistently available:
- Feed 1:1 sugar syrup (1 part sugar to 1 part water, by weight).
- Feed pollen substitute (no pollen) or pollen supplement (with pollen). Use a pollen supplement only if you collected the pollen from disease-free colonies. If you purchase a commercial pollen supplement, be sure that the pollen in it has been sterilized. Never use commercially available bulk pollen as a bee feed.
IPM for HONEY BEE PESTS, PARASITES, PATHOGENS and PREDATORS
PESTS: Wax Moths and Small Hive Beetles
- Wax moths are not a problem during cold weather unless you keep your combs in a heated building. Properly stored and protected from re-infestation, combs that have been frozen (< 32 °F or < 0 °C) for at least one day during the winter will not be infested with any stage of the wax moth.
- In general, keep all of your unused combs in mothproof stacks or in a mothproof room or building, preferably unheated. Tape cracks between supers or repair supers so they fit tightly together. Inspect regularly! Treat with Para-moth® or Fumigator® at first sign of wax moth.
- The best solution for wax moths is to keep as many supers of combs as possible on your colonies. Strong colonies provide the best protection for your combs.
PARASITES: Parasitic Mites and Nosema
- Remove pesticides as soon as you have met the minimum treatment period (see product labels).
- Wear nitrile rubber gloves when handling Apistan or CheckMite+. See Mite-Away ll label for special handling instructions.
PATHOGENS: AFB and other diseases
- If you used Terramycin® as a preventative treatment in April, you should not see disease. Of course, if you find AFB while checking queen quality, abate immediately and send a sample for evaluation of TM resistance to the Bee Research Laboratory.
- If you do not use Terramycin® as a preventative treatment, continue to check for disease
- Inspect 3 - 4 brood combs for disease.
- Abate AFB colonies immediately.
- If you are unsure about a diagnosis, send a sample to the Bee Research Laboratory for analysis.
PREDATORS: Bears and Skunks
THIRD INSPECTION: May 1 - May 15