Beekeeping for Beginners

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Spring Control

The first spring control of colonies

It is not possible to determine exactly when the first detailed spring inspection of bee colonies should be performed, it depends primarily on climatic conditions. The most important thing is that the outside air temperature is above 18 Celsius degrees, and that the day when the first spring inspection will be performed is sunny, quiet, without wind.

If bee colonies entered the winter with a young and fertile queen, with a lot of young worker bees made in the first decade of the eighth month, until winter, and with a lot of quality reserve food, some experienced beekeepers with a large number of hives do not perform the first detailed inspection in the usual way. According to the behavior of worker bees when they fly out and enter the hive, and on the basis of a cursory inspection, they assess the condition of the hive.

Pregled košnica pčela

However, regardless of the fact that the bee colonies are disturbed during the detailed inspection, we recommend that after the wintering, when the weather conditions allow it, it is obligatory to inspect each hive in detail. This is the safest way to determine the true state of society, which is necessary to take measures for their faster development, ie preparation for the successful use of the first main pasture.

You should thoroughly prepare for this inspection of bee colonies, so that during the inspection there is no downtime, to do everything correctly, calmly, but also quickly enough, because any delay can lead to unwanted consequences, for example, the appearance of looting, colds, damage queen and similar.

The first spring inspection of colonies should be done in calm weather, when the temperature is above 18 Celsius degrees.

The inspection tools should be wiped and disinfected, and then put in the prepared box. Check that the smoker works well and prepare enough material for smoking.

We remind beekeepers that it is necessary to prepare a notebook in which all data on the found condition are entered immediately after the inspection, for each hive separately. Based on these data, after the inspection of all hives in the apiary, appropriate measures are taken for each hive separately.

The first spring inspection of bee colonies is, in fact, the most detailed inspection of the year, and its goal is:

  • To determine how bee colonies overwintered
  • Do they have a queen and what is the quality?
  • What is the strength of the bee colony in terms of the number of worker bees, i.e. that not many worker bees died during the winter?
  • Are there any diseases and pests and to what extent?
  • Are the walls of the hive and honeycomb dirty with feces?
  • Is there any reserve food and how much is it, how it is arranged in the hive, etc.

Before starting the inspection, the bee colony should be smoked through the entrance reducer with a light smoke, wait a minute or two, and then carefully open the hive. Then, from above, over the honeycomb, smoke the bees again with smoke, taking care that the smoker does not move close to the bees and that no too sharp movements are made with the smoker, to avoid sparks or hot smoke.

Some beekeepers do not know that excessive smoke harms bees, and in severe cases it can lead to damage and even death of the queen. That is why bees should be smoked as little as possible, only as much as is necessary to be able to work successfully. When the bees are smoked from above, wait a bit, then the inspection begins. It is carefully taken out frame by frame, inspected and put back in its place.

The presence of the queen and her quality is appreciated by brood. When the worker nest is densely packed in a continuous surface and when the brood cells are normally flat closed, it is a sign that the colony has a queen of good quality and that there is no bee brood disease. If the brood is streaked, arranged in an intermittent row, it means that the colony has a queen of poorer quality. If there is only a drone brood in a hive, the queen is of poorer quality. If the brood is too variegated, and there are more drone litters, the queen is of poorer quality. If there is only a drone litter in a hive, and there is no drone litter, it is a sign that the company has a fake queen or drone.

At the beginning of March, a stronger bee colony needs about 10 to 12 kilograms of reserve food. Simultaneously with the inspection, the hive should be cleaned of any dirt, and especially of the rot that has accumulated on the base. There is a lot of wax in that rot on the base, they fall from the wax covers on the base and accumulate there. The rot from the base should be sifted, then part of the wax covers should be melted in wax, and the rest of the dirt should be burned or buried deeper.

pregled kosnice

Simultaneously with this inspection, the bee nest should be rearranged. Rearrangement of the bee nest is necessary because a lot of food is consumed in the central part of the nest during the winter, and the number of worker bees is reduced, because a smaller or larger number of them die during the winter. The space in the hive is usually large for such a reduced number of bees, and food is not distributed in the hive to make it most suitable for the faster development of the bee colony. Therefore, the nest should be narrowed, i.e. the brood, bees and food should be grouped into a smaller number of frames, and the arrangement of the frames should be adjusted in the way that is most suitable for faster development of the bee colony.

6 to 9 frames are grouped, sometimes more or less, depending on the strength of the bee colony. Frames with a brood are placed in the central part of the nest, and next to them are those frames that have a wreath with honey in the upper part, i.e. a honey cap, but so that there is a lot of empty suitable space on the honeycomb where the queen will lay eggs. Frames with a lot of honey and a lot of pollen powder are placed next to these frames. The beehive thus grouped is separated from the other frames by a partition board or newsprint.

Such a narrowed bee nest should be re-warmed, in order to prevent the consequences of more possible cooling. All this allows the bee colony to normally nurture, feed and heat the bee brood, so that the temperature in the area of the brood is constantly from 33 to 35 degrees. Any deviation from this temperature adversely affects the development of bee society as a whole.

Some beekeepers point out that this warming is more important than winter warming, because at that time the brood develops abruptly, and the differences between night and day temperatures are large. In addition, the weather conditions are very changeable at that time, so it can get colder. In colonies that are not drowned enough, an enlarged brood can cause colds, rot and cause various diseases. If the warming material has become damp during the winter, it should be replaced with fresh and dry. When the inspection and rearrangement of the beehive is completed, the hive is carefully closed.

At the end of the inspection of one hive, all the details of the found condition should be entered in the notebook, and in particular, the following:

  • Does the colony have a queen and what is its quality? If there are a lot of brood in relation to other colonies and if the brood is compact, it means that the queen is good and vice versa;
  • How strong the company is, that is, how many worker bees there are
  • How much food, honey and pollen are in reserve
  • What is the condition of the honeycomb, not only in terms of its age, but also whether it is moldy, how many honeycombs there are with drone cells, how much it is damaged in any way, etc.
  • Have diseases or pests appeared
  • If there is no queen, have false queens already appeared, etc.

All these and other details, for each hive separately, after the inspection of all bee colonies, are transferred from the handbook to the main book. This is done, in order to take the right measures for each company separately, immediately after the review.