Spring Assessment – Beginner Beekeeper and Bees

Spring Polyanthus
Spring Polyanthus

Beeginner Beekeepers….

This is an email I have sent out to our Beeginuzz. Which you may find useful.

These beginners are dealing with new last-season colonies that they have brought through Winter so its been wonderful to see their progress, new season challenges ahead!

The main issues for them seems to be varroa management and dwindling honey stores.

So here goes…I hope you find it helpful.

Spring Assessment Beginner Beekeeper and Bees

“Hi Everyone,

Thank you for your interest in requesting a Beekeeper Service. As you will all bee aware the weather has been testing our colonies patience and mine ! Its been difficult to co-ordinate in-between rain and wind for me.

But for those hives I have attended, Some of you have found the following issues;
– DWV – deformed wing virus
– PMS – parasitic mite syndrome
Both results due to “varroa destructor” mite-infestation

– hungry bees
Result of long periods of confinement and eating through honey stores, lack of nectar and pollen due to heavy and long periods of rain and inability to forage.

In these circumstances – I advise that treatment and feeding your girls in the first instance is imperative as the first course of action.
Once the ‘issues’ are dealt with – when the colony has settled again and there is fresh brood – we can then conduct the AFB inspection.

In my view, I don’t think checking a hive for AFB with the above issues is helpful to a proper visual AFB identification.

Note: before you treat do a mite-count, also ensure your hive is dry – clean your bottom-board – then do the treatments, treatments are more effective when all your hive-boxes and base-board are dry.

For you….

I want the service to bee correct for what you have booked me for and of most benefit to you.

For me…

I cannot sign-off on hives full of Varroa Issues.

****Please remember that the yellow-forms do not need to bee signed-off and back til November****


It can be overwhelming for you to inspect, as the colonies are now (hopefully), building-up.
Best thing…. don’t panic!….take a breath…

> My advice is for you to do an ‘assessment’ inspection first before I attend. Do this on a fine day. Check every box and every frame – quietly, one by one.
… just take your time to see the STATUS of your colony. You do not need to take any hive-action at this point, as you are just checking the state of the colony.

But …
… You do need to note and record what is happening on each level then each frame. Then close-up the hive and then go and make a plan of action.
Handy Hint: Maybe ask someone to write the notes up for you while you inspect?

What do you need to check for?

That the hive is ‘queen-right’, you must see the following…

  • Queen
  • Eggs / new
  • larvae / curly – not capped white
  • capped Larvae – white not formed bee
  • capped Pupae – changing colour to darker and forming a new bee
  • …You don’t want to see the following…
  • DAMP
  • Varroa Presence
  • Wax Moth Presence
  • Wasps in the hive or around your colony’s entrance.

How can you tell whether your colony is planning to swarm?

– Queen Cells
These cells are larger, longer and usually sit on the lower box and the lower part of the brood frames.

Key Areas?

> Identify if there are Worker brood – when capped sits lower than Drone brood.
> Identify if there are Drone brood – usually lower parts of frames, in-between hive-boxes.
If you only have drone brood then check cells for multiple-eggs in one cell – if you see this then it means your hive is NOT queen-right and that you have a laying-worker-bee. Call me A.S.A.P !!

Food Stores?

Now that we have had a great spurt of warmer weather, with temperatures finally going above 14 degrees for longer than 2 hours, you will now see good quantities of…

  • pollen
  • nectar
  • capped honey
  • Where am I at?

    I have finished all my assessment inspections, me and my volunteer already got all our ‘split-gear’ built and placed in August, on each colony, so its been easy to add fresh boxes. The gear for splits – hive-mats, extra baseboards, roofs, queen excluder all together with their colony.
    So I am ready to do the splits !

    What did I do?

    I assessed my hives on 3 criteria….

    1. AWESOME – ready to split
    2. BUILDING – 2 weeks away from splitting
    3. WEAK – monitoring brood growth and feeding honey cakes we made last season.

    My “AWESOMENESS” hives are being split tomoro.

    Please call me to discuss timing (09) 8109965 – in the evenings would be great.

    Cheers guys and thanks so much for your patience… I think Spring has definitely Sprung!!

    Hear from you shortly.”

    It’s the kiwimana buzz…

    If you have any further queries, please feel free to contact Gary and Myself on the number given above.

    All the very best for your start to Bee Season 2015-Spring 2015


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