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By Howland Blackiston, Unknown

Part of Beekeeping For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Spring is a busy time for bees and beekeepers. Your spring beekeeping inspection is the first of the season. It’s time to start bee colonies or bring your colonies “back to life.” Here’s your spring inspection chores list:

  • As winter crawls to an end, pick the first mild sunny day with little or no wind to inspect your bees (50 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer).

  • Observe the hive entrance. Are many dead bees around the entrance? A few dead bees are normal, but finding more casualties than that may indicate a problem.

  • Is there brown spotting on the hive? These are bee feces, which indicate the presence of nosema disease. Even if you don’t see the brown spotting, your first spring inspection is time to medicate your bees with Fumigilin-B (antibiotic) by adding it to the first two gallons of sugar syrup you feed them.

  • Lightly smoke and open the hive. Do you see the cluster of bees? Can you hear the cluster?

  • Remove a frame or two from the center of the top deep-hive body. Do you see any brood? Look for eggs (eggs mean you have a queen). If you see no eggs or brood, consider ordering a new queen from your supplier.

  • Does the colony have honey? If not, or if they’re getting low, immediately begin feeding syrup to the bees.

  • Feed your colony a pollen substitute to boost brood production.

  • Use a screened bottom board or the sugar roll method to determine Varroa mite population. Medicate if needed.

  • Place a packet of menthol crystals on top of the brood nest to control tracheal mites. Putting this on a small sheet of aluminum foil will prevent the bees from covering the packet with propolis.

  • Dust the frame’s top bars with a mixture of Terramycin (antibiotic) and powdered sugar to prevent foulbrood.

  • Reverse the deep hive bodies to better distribute the brood pattern. Use this opportunity to clean the bottom board.

  • Later in the spring, add a queen excluder and honey supers (all medication must be off the hive at this time).