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Swarm Trap in tree

Swarm Trap in tree

Usual disclaimer: All beekeeping is local. The following is based on my experience in the Midlands of South Carolina.

Toward beginning of February and the first week of March, place swarm traps with pheromone attractant or lemongrass oil attractant to catch swarms. Traps ideally should be 10 – 15 feet above ground but can be reasonably be 8-9 feet above ground level.

On overwintered hive, place first super at beginning of this month. Stop feedings if they are making white wax indicating a flow. Plan on checks every 10 days to head off swarm preparations.

Inspect for laying queen, disease, etc. If warm consider spring splits early in month.

Swap brood boxes if not previously done. Disruption delays swarming.

Checkerboard frames above brood nest with drawn comb alternating empty with honey.

Open up brood chamber with drawn comb.

Look for poor queen performance and mark for queen replacement for when queens become available.

Notice Flowering Tulip Magnolia, Bradford Pears, Pine pollen, Yellow jasmine, Oak pollen, Azaleas starting. Lots of pollen coming in as brood expands.

March 1-15th (Temperature above 60 degrees):

  • Rotate  brood boxes if two exist or add 2nd if only one exists. If you add a brood box, place it above existing brood box.
  • Check the brood comb and replace frames that have excessive drone cell and excessively small (old) worker cells.
  • Take out Apistan® strips if used – strips should have been in hives approximately 56days, but no more.
  • Check for queen cells. Repeat every ten days for about four times. If you find an capped cell, verify hive is queen-right and consider making increase by moving queen to new hive to simulate swarm.

All month:

  • Inspect queen/brood status, if weak, mark colony for re-queening when new queens are available.
  • If running 2 brood boxes, rotate boxes to maintain space for queen to lay as well as for swarm prevention technique.
  • Last week of month, place minimum 2-3 empty supers of drawn comb or 1 super if using frames of foundation on strong colonies (assuming no major beetle problems).
  • Medium strength colonies should receive 1 empty super if using drawn comb to allow them room to both guard and grow.
  • Replace 2-3 frames of old drawn comb in each hive body with frames of new foundation.
  • Remember to remove all medications from colony according to product label directions.
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