Bee Thinking About – For May, 2013

Not only could it be 90° in Virginia and 30° in Minnesota in May, with this weird weather, it could also be 30° in Virginia and 90° in Minnesota. Thus, when you read this, remember that it is in general terms because of the vast climate differences of our readers. What you need to do with your hives this time of year also varies by your management philosophy, apiary goals, current weather, likely weather, and condition of your colonies.

Also please remember that it is a super busy and buzzy time in the apiary. If you need equipment and supplies, order now to ensure we have what you need and can get it to you before you need it.

So, what should you be considering for your apiary in May? No matter where you’re located, coming to Kelley’s Field Day in June is a key thing to consider. See our website for more information.

But also…


  • Keep the area around your hives closely mowed to discourage pests. Concurrently, let the dandelions grow elsewhere; bees love them.

  • Ready for honey flow? Check that you have the frames, foundation and boxes that you need, and the containers.
    B-Thinking-1

  • Ventilation: they need it; heat may build up quickly in a booming hive. Kelley’s has some great ventilation supers. 

  •  Swarms: it’s happening. Expand your colonies as they need room; split if that’s part of your management plan. As beekeeper Stephan L. shared “When your bees swarm due to no room in the brood box, there is not much you can do to prevent them from swarming. You should have added another brood box three weeks ago. The bees swarming are just following through with their plan to leave their old home taking your old queen and head out to the blue yonder to find a new home in a hollow tree.”

  • Enjoy! As Dennis Brown, regular contributor to this publication, shares: “This is the time of year that most beekeepers enjoy the most. Spring is magical. Spring is the time of year when life awakens from a deep sleep. It is a time when the skeletal remains of the bushes and trees begin to show signs of life. Migrating birds start their long journey back to their spring and summer retreats. It is a new dawn, a new day, a new season and the air is filled with renewed vitality. This is spring. Live and enjoy your bees.”


In The South

Mites: Continue to assess mite populations before they overrun your larvae. If medications are part of your plan, Apiguard and Apivar are good choices, they do not leave residue in the wax like other mite treatments.

Requeen: if you have struggling hives, now is a great time to ensure their future with a vigorous young queen.

Beetles: assess, trap, treat—depending upon your management plan and how many of the critters you see. 

In the North

Be on swarm standby. Vigilantly stay ahead of spring build-up by adding boxes.

Pests—watch for mites, beetles, other critters. See “South” items.

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