York County Beekeepers Association

Karen Thurlow, Master Beekeeper

Karen Thurlow, Master Beekeeper, formerly of New Moon Apiaries in Yarmouth, Maine, now living in New Brunswick, Canada spoke on Spring Management.

Karen believes you cannot “beekeep” by the calendar but need to know the phenology (nature’s calendar) where your bees are kept.

Pollen is essential for brood rearing and if natural pollen isn’t available, say it rains for a week, then pollen substitute in the hive would help keep the bees and brood alive. Keeping track, every year, of the dates that pollen appears in your bee yards is important as well as when the flowers bloom.

Karen treats for mites in early spring, before the honey flow, and is an advocate for monthly alcohol washes, and treat if needed, to keep mites under control.

During the spring buildup the bees are raising brood and the hive is building rapidly. Take advantage of the wax making getting some extra frames built out. Watch for signs of swarming: queen cups with larvae in it and less room in the brood chamber for eggs as the bees are backfilling the cells with honey.

As you super for a nectar flow add two supers if you have drawn comb but one super if you have foundation.

Karen suggests making your splits at the Summer Solstice thus keeping your apiary sustainable.

In late summer watch for robbing. Feed if there is a dearth.

Karen also gave us some tidbits of wisdom: 1) Bees like it dark and won’t draw out the frames that are next to an auger hole in the box, 2) dry corners of the brood frames = hungry bees.  All it takes is a quick peek to know if you should feed or not.

  Fun Fact:  Karen still has the original hive tool from when she started beekeeping in 1978.

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