Honey Do Beekeeping Checklist for May

May is when packaged bees or nucleus colonies start arriving. Spring is springing and the bees are ready to get into full foraging mode. If you are receiving your bees this month, it can be an exciting time and NEWBEES (new beekeepers) may want to check on their bees constantly… DON’T DO IT.  Let the bees acclimate to their new hive. You can begin to spend more time with them after a few weeks.  Check out the list and find out what to look for.  

There are two lists below: one for those who are not installing new bees and one for those installing a package or a nucleus colony. Find your checklist and follow along.

CHECKLIST (for Beekeepers NOT Installing New Bees)

  • If the blooms are not superabundant, keep feeding the bees with a 1:1 solution  of sugar to water
  • Observation: During inspections, locate brood comb, and look for eggs. It’s possible that although the colony made it through the winter, the queen may not be laying eggs. As a beekeeper, it might be time to consider requeening the colony
  • When identifying eggs, larva, and capped brood, the quantity should be enough to revive the hive from the previous year. During the middle of the summer, a colony will typically have 40,000-60,000 bees
  • As soon as the bees start gathering fresh nectar and capping new honey, feel free to remove the overwintered honey and harvest it 
  • Observation: The bees should be pulling in a lot of pollen. Be sure to note the color, and if possible, the source of the pollen on your inspection forms
  • Because the colony survived, it is more likely to swarm. Be sure the colony has enough room to grow. Make sure there are enough empty bars for the bees to build upon. Early signs of swarming are as follows:
    • Teacup Cells: The bees may create teacup-shaped cells. These unique cells will be unfilled at first, but it means the workers are preparing to feed and cap a new queen
    • The colony creates drone bees: Look for the larger brood cells, and watch for high quantities. This means that the colony is getting ready to pass on genetics to other queens, as well

CHECKLIST (for Beekeepers Starting With a Nucleus Colony or Packaged Bees)

  • The installation season is now. If you have not already installed your bees, you will install them soon.  Look at the previous Honey-Do Lists to be ready
  • Watch the videos in Beepods Lab for instructions and to watch walkthroughs of installations for both packages and nucleus colonies.
  • Observation: When you install a package, the workers should release the queen within a week. The bees should start building comb by this time. If this is not happening, call our support line (608-728-8233), and we will guide you through it
  • As soon as the bees build comb, look for the queen to start laying eggs
  • Observation: Within two weeks of installation, you should be able to see eggs and larva.  If you don’t see either of these signs, it may be time to requeen the colony
  • The colony will steadily grow until they fill the space, so be sure to monitor this weekly for the first month and place more bars in the hive, as necessary
  • Observation: By the end of May, you should see fully drawn out comb, brood, and possibly even hatching bees

This checklist was created for beekeepers specifically in Midwest, USA.  It may need to be adjusted for other beekeepers based on weather, location and other environmental factors.  This list will be updated and variations will be created over time as needed.  If you would like to help with the development of these checklists, please, contact us. 

Always be sure to check Beepods.com for updated lists or information in the Members Resource Area.

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