By Howland Blackiston

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 [10 degrees Celsius] or warmer).

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

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

  • Look through some of the comb. 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 it’s getting low, immediately begin feeding syrup to the bees.

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

  • If you are using a Langstroth hive, reverse the deep-hive bodies to better distribute the brood pattern. Use this opportunity to clean the bottom board.

  • Use a screened bottom board or the powdered-sugar-shake method to determine Varroa mite population. Take corrective action if the population of mites is heavy.

  • Later in the spring, add a queen excluder and honey supers to your Langstroth hive (if you medicate your bees, all medication must be off the hive at this time).