FeaturedGeneralIn the ApiaryPractical Advice

The Apiary in May

Title photo: Swarm on a Horse Chestnut Tree

Oh where has that nice warm weather gone? After a few warm days we are back to a cold and wet climate which is no good for Bees or Beekeepers.

We advise checking your colonies every 7 to 10 days to prevent swarming in May and June but the cold weather topped by rain has prevented this regime of prevention.

Then in between storms, a few swarms emerge causing havoc in the Apiary as you try to manage the process and prevent casts following a few days later.

Bait Hives:

I always have a brood chamber full of frames, some drawn, on a flat roof near to the house so any scout bees from a hive or swarm can give me an early indication  of problems within my Apiary.

I, of course, catch the odd passing swarm, my bees never swarm🥴, which I isolate, treat for varroa and then see how they behave.

So I would always recommend putting out a bait hive as part of your management of your Apiary.

Honey Extraction:

If inbetween  the rain storms and “cold,” your bees have filled a super or two, yes eternally optimistic, time to get the first crop extracted or the rape honey will crystallise in the combs and the comb will need warming in an uncapping tray to separate wax from honey.

Days of Inactivity:

On some days the colonies are so cold this May, they will not leave the hive. No self respecting flower will produce nectar when the weather is cold and wet as it has been.

The bees therefore cluster at the front entrance looking most unhappy.

Clustered Bees

June Gap:

At the start of next month expect a week of cold weather, just like most of May, which is referred to as the ‘June gap’ when there is no nectar about .

The Queen slows down her laying and ‘grumpy bees’ is the order of the day, so leave the hive well alone unless necessary to check quickly for swarm preparations.

Main Honey Flow:

Once we get into June and warm weather returns the nectar flow will suddenly start, so ensure you have plenty of supers on .

The Lime trees and BlackBerry are looking good this year and we have more grazing land about with a clover mix in – ideal for foraging insects.

The Association meetings are in full flow so if you can get to a couple in the next month or so it will help your Beekeeping skills and link you into the network of experienced Apiarists.

We will be looking for volunteers at a number of local Fetes and shows, so please help out where you can as we spread the word on the importance of  Honey Bees and try to recruit new members to the Association

Apiary Meeting
Apiary Meeting

Next Month: A crucial time for honey flows, swarm prevention and local shows.

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