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Spring in  the apiary

In the apiary spring starts when the bees can find pollen on pussywillows and hazel trees, usually some time in March (In some years, like 2006 and 2015 not until mid April, though).

The first task in spring is to check the hive floors. This is done on a day when the temperature has come above 10 - 12 degrees Celsius. Usually the floors have a layer of dead bees, wax particles and any other gunk accumulated during the winter months. If this is not removed, it may block the entrance so that the bees can't get out. Sometimes we just have to wipe away some dead bees and the floor can be used as it is, but normally the old floor has to be replaced with a cleaned one.

  • Pussywillows
  • Changing hive floors
  • Snowbells
  • Crocus
  • Checking honey frames
  • Easter lily
  • Beequeen being born
  • New queen introduced
  • Cranberry flowers

Another thing we do is to close the air vents in the floors. At the time when the bees start finding pollen and bringing it back to the hives, the queen will start egg laying, and if there suddenly is a cold dip in the temperature, it may kill the brood. Therefore we close the air stream from below, in order to make it easier for the bees to maintain the temperature in the hives.

The bees are foraging on early wild and garden flowers. Pussywillows are usually the first, then come crocus, snowbells, dandelions. Also the fir trees provide a good source for pollen. A bit later the fruit trees are in blossom. Cherry, apple, plum and pear trees provide a good source of nectar, and they all benefit from the bees' visit. Our neighbours never complain about our bees, since they have such a lot of fruit in the autumn!

As the weather is getting warmer in spring, the queen starts laying thousands of eggs, and it is important to check that the bees have room enough. Quite possibly we have to add some wax frames or even put a 'super' on, that is another hive box on top of the brood box. If we don't, the bees may start building queen cells, which is a sign that they are likely to swarm. We can remove the queen cells, or we can split the colony in two, so that one half has the queen and the other half has a nice and healthy queen cell. Sometimes we let a queen cell stay warm in the bathroom, and then the queen may hatch there. A colony for her can be made up by taking some frames with bees from a couple of other hives.

The images are showing the cleaning/changing of hive floors, checking frames for food, and there are some pictures of plants that we have a lot of in our area, where the bees can find  the first pollen or nectar. One of the pictures is of a queen that was hatching in our bathroom. The next picture was taken when we were introducing the new born queen to a queenless colony. It all went well, she was accepted by the worker bees.