Let’s chat about spring hive inspections and what you should be looking for. I have been telling a lot of people about hive succession and what to expect of your bees looking forward to spring. Remember, when you are doing your hive management, you should always be thinking 3 weeks into the future. I know it can be difficult when you are looking outside and seeing snow fly at the end of April (as we often do here in Alberta), but really, be ready for the spring to come on fast and quick. Once the weather is averaging to be above 9 degrees Celsius (weather matching the climate averages for your area) and the trees start offering up a lot of pollen and propolis for your bees: the brood nest will be growing! It is time that you inspect your bees not just to see if they lived but to check the following things:
What is your mite load?
This is a great time for you to consider doing a mite wash or a sticky bottom board. Your mites are running around and not hidden so well in the capped brood cells as your brood nest is still small. This is a great time to do some IPM of sugar dusting and bottom board cleaning.
How is your queen looking?
Have a look at the brood nest and see how she is laying? Is it a good pattern? Are the larva wet with royal jelly? Do you see any signs of Chalk (stressed bees) or drones? You shouldn’t have any drone cells in your hive yet as it isn’t the season yet. So, think about that and consider if you should re-queen this spring.
How are your bees looking?
Are your bees strong, weak, wings looking good? Are there enough numbers to produce healthy development of brood?
Is there pollen coming in?
This means that you can expect your brood nest to expand in healthy growth. If there isn’t pollen coming in, be patient, it will come! Pollen triggers the queen to lay more aggressively since our summers are so short. Curious to see where your bees are foraging for pollen? We have a list of Plants and Their Pollen Colour in our resources.
These are all important questions to ask while inspecting, cleaning out the bottom board, and feeding if you are feeding. This is because if you don’t know, you may be blindsided by problems in the future when the spring nectar flow comes on (keep an eye out for dandelions) and you don’t want that! You want to be PREPARED!