A Short Inspection and a Short Article

Spring of 2024 is one for the records books.  I am pretty sure all Michiganders notice the early spring and the exceptionally well-timed show mother nature is putting on with the crab apple blossoms right now!  Beekeepers know springs like these turn into adventures at every inspection.  Strong hives coming out of mild winters are more prone to swarming.  And high survival rates for bees translate to high survival rates for associated pests such as varroa mites.

And yes, for the bad news first. Debbie and I have both seen varroa mites in detectable levels while dissecting drone comb. Subsequently, I have treated all hives that I monitor with apiguard this spring, leaning on the thymol before supers go on. I have also completed a round of antibiotic treatment in yards that had EFB last year, as we have some left on hand and want to make every prudent decision to minimize the spread of this stressful bacterial brood disease.

We have done a number of inspections this spring and have not seen signs of foulbrood, and therefore are moving forward in positivity!

Today we are looking to confirm our hives have room. Additionally, we are inspecting for any signs of disease or problem.

And it’s a good thing we looked because we do not have room! Our biggest hive that we affectionately call Debbie is bursting at the seams, in need of a super, and has charged queen cells. Yes, folks, along with the dandelion blooms, overwintered hives are coming on strong with momentum to swarm. We are choosing to do a reverse split, essentially a simulated swarm. We will take the queen, some resources, capped brood, adults, and room away from the mother hive in a nuc. We leave the remaining hive with the queen cells and we are adding a super to try and minimize backfilling (putting nectar/honey where the queen will need to lay eggs). We’ll check back in a month and hope that a daughter queen was successfully raised!  If not, we can choose to recombine with the original mother queen but will more likely obtain a new queen of our favorite bees to introduce to the hive. Our intentions are to monitor that they have space in the super, but we don’t like to disturb the brood chamber while allowing a hive to requeen itself.

In the meantime we will monitor the mother split closely for any more signs of swarming.

We looked at the other two hives – the one called Elly had plenty of room and plenty of resources. The third hive at the forest is a geriatric queen, named Mason, Debbie donated to the garden. Mason is doing fine, and in fact needed room so we upgraded it to a 10-frame box from a 5-frame nuc. 

All are doing fine, all have been treated, all have room. Which is great because the apple bloom is on in the orchard! These, along with so many other spring flowers mean there is plenty of work for our girls to do! 

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