Spring is certainly in the air with new blooms popping, warmer days, busy hive entrances, and a flurry of last-minute spring prep.
I’m so excited to dig into my apiary this weekend for the first time this season. We had a super warm weekend so I can’t help but think that it must have triggered some particularly ripe colonies to prepare to swarm that I’d prefer to be on the front foot for.
The first post-winter inspection is so important, for many reasons. What I’ll personally be looking out for includes:
How the colony went through winter. Do they have enough food, are they bringing in nectar and pollen now?
If the colony is weak I will consider if I need to downsize it to a single brood or nuc (for example) to give it a boost. Harbouring empty space in a hive can be very detrimental to their progress.
A thorough pest and disease check
I will be taking advantage of any opportunity to swap out old brood frames with fresh ones. It’s important to cycle out old brood frames (a 2-year cycle is best) to avoid pathogen build-up in the wax comb and small bees. I do this by taking out any honey frames on the edge of the brood and replacing these with empty new frames in the middle, where the queen will then be able to lay eggs in fresh comb.
Any queen cells I can make a split with (see Swarm Prevention).
What’s part of your first post-winter inspection?
If you’re a beginner, please send through your questions.
Important side note: suitable spring inspection time, conditions and checklists vary across different climates and locations, so make sure you consult your local experienced beekeepers on what specific practices you should be implementing for your location.