April Newsletter

Hello Beekeepers! Welcome to our April newsletter. 

Starting off with some Donegal Bees updates; 

As mentioned in our March newsletter, our catalogue is postponed this year until late April or May. We have hopefully finalized our new prices for 2022 and all affected products have been updated on our website and we are fully stocked. You can download the complete list of changes here. If you’ve any queries, don’t be afraid to get in contact with our sales office at 074 9710140 or email us at enquiries@donegalbees.ie

Our recent Mother’s Day Gift Box event was very popular with our customers! It was also a great opportunity to launch the first design of our new greeting card range, with more designs to follow throughout the year. 

We’re enjoying being able to offer gift packs, and we hope all the special mothers who got one as a gift were very happy with them!

We are very excited to be launching two new lines of products this month from our Irish Wildflower range – Irish Wildflower Beeswax Candles and Bee Meadow Seed Mix. 

Our Beeswax candles are made from 100% natural Irish beeswax sheets made here at Donegal Bees and come in 7 different widths and heights with varying burn times. 

The Bee Meadow Seed Mix comes in a packet of 40g and contains flower seeds perfect for attracting bees and other pollinators into your garden. Both products will be having their own promotional launches which will be shared on our social media feeds, so be sure to give us a follow to stay up to date. 

This month we are delighted to hosting a STEM workshop for members of FIBKA as part of the EDIBEE programme. You can read more about this programme here. We hope the day will be educational for all involved, and we’ll be sure to share some photos of the day!

  • In mid-April, start regular brood nest inspections of larger colonies.
  • Keep records of what you see. 
  • Look out for signs of swarming.
  • Add a queen excluder and super when the brood box is full of bees.
    • [Slotted Metal Queen Excluder €11]

  • Remove any old, brood-less combs and replace them with frames of foundation. 
  • Feed the colony if necessary to help them draw out the comb.  
  • Ask an experienced beekeeper for help if you think things aren’t quite right. 
  • Check wasp traps regularly to avoid killing non-target species. 

List courtesy of the Haynes Bee Manual, available on our website.

  • Plant Bee-Friendly Flowers (See our new Bee Meadow Seed Mix)
  • Spring cleaning - always clean hive tools between inspections with a washing solution made up of 1 part soda crystals (Sodium Carbonate) to 5 parts warm water (e.g. 1 Kg of soda crystals and 5L of warm water) with a squeeze of washing-up liquid. Immerse the equipment in the solution, while using a wired brush, or similar tool to scrub off residues until the tools are clean.
  • Tidy around the entire hive and make sure your equipment is in good working order (See Hive Tools)
  • Inspect bees as follows - every 7-9 days for disease, swarming intentions, status of Queen, brood pattern and stores (9 days is the time it takes the bees to create and cap a Queen cell and decide to swarm).  It should be warm outside when doing this.

  • If bees show intention to swarm then consider prevention options (See our post about Swarm Prevention)
  • Super-up (when bees cover 7 of the 10 frames, add a super)
  • Remove supers for extraction as required 
  • Make sure there is enough space for the bees
  • This inspection is a good time to find and mark the Queen before hive gets too busy (See Marking Pen – this year’s colour is Yellow)

[List courtesy of the talkingwithbees.com]

April is here and the hive is beginning to grow. Similar to the hive, so grows the list of to-dos for the beekeeper. 

Good nutrition for your hives will be naturally a challenge with the irregular spring weather (rain, wind and cold). If there's no food available to your hives; feed, feed, and feed some more! If you think there might be a tiny shortage, feed as early as you can and check for carbs and protein. A protein patty (or frame of pollen) now is the cheapest insurance you can buy. For carbs, try a sugar board, (or frames of honey). Easy to feed and easy to eat. Feeding syrup or sugar boards will stimulate your bees and encourage them to eat. Continue feeding until they no longer take your offering. 

Weather permitting, comprehensive inspection and spring-cleaning time is here. Reverse the brood supers, unless the colony and brood are strong (covering both boxes). In this case, you should probably not reverse boxes (as this will split the brood area). You should, however, clean the bottom board whether you reverse boxes or not. 

Note: Depending on the weather all of the above may need to be delayed until early May. 

Later in the month, check your hives on a warm day for brood pattern, signs of diseases and overall health. If diseases or parasites are found, take necessary action to treat using whatever methods you are comfortable with. 

Be especially mindful of swarming. You may want to set up swarm capture traps and have swarm retrieval equipment ready. Provide more room (if necessary) and consider splitting the hive. If swarm cells are present, you may try removing them but chances are the bees will still swarm.

[ Courtesy: https://grow.ifa.coop/beekeeping/beekeeping-in-april ]

If you’re starting new this year, make sure all of your equipment is assembled and painted. You should have at least one deep brood box and frames ready; along with a bottom board, inner cover, outer cover and feeding mechanism and supplies for when the bee packages arrive. If you don't, do it now. Then, install the new packages of bees. 

The colony should grow very quickly from now on, so food supply will need to be maintained if the hive is light. Feed if required with half strength Syrup.  Later remove the Feeder and put on a Queen Excluder and a Super(s) if required to give space for the growing numbers. Remove the mouse guard.  Be vigilant - swarming can begin in late April! Consider one or more 'Bait hives' (empty hive) in the Apiary to catch swarms.

Essential Equipment:

  • Protective Clothing, Smoker, Hive Tools.
  • Feeder and Syrup. (4 Pint Feeder, Apimix) 
  • Queen Excluder and Super/s. 
  • Bait Hive and Swarm Lure. (Type 3 Hive) 
  • Record Book.
 [4 Pint Feeder €5.50 ]
 [Poly Hive Type 3 €195]

Flowers Bees Love in Spring!

Bees need flowers throughout the foraging period from March to October. It’s a good idea to have nectar and pollen-rich plants in flower at any one time during this period. The nectar feeds the adult bee and the pollen feeds the brood. Spring showers and early flowers bring… bees!

This month there is 10% off of all our Easter-themed candle moulds. 

This includes all Egg, Rabbit, Chicks, Lambs moulds – check out the collection here

Easter Candle Mould Sale

Lastly, thank you for keeping bees! Let us know if you have any questions regarding your hive, we’re always happy to help.

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