April Newsletter 2024

Hello Beekeepers! Mara daoibh a bheachairí! We hope you had a great Easter break, despite the stormy weather!

Our 2024 Catalogue Has Arrived!

Drumroll, please! Our much-anticipated 2024 catalogue is now available. If you haven't received your free copy yet, simply hop onto our website's homepage to request a copy or to download our digital version.

5% OFF National Polystyrene Hives

We're thrilled to introduce some fantastic new deals! Purchase 2 or more of our popular National Polystyrene Hive or Poly Hive Parts, and enjoy a 5% discount automatically applied to your basket. Grab this offer online or give us a ring, and we'll take care of it for you.

Shipping Update

Just a reminder that we’ve reduced our shipping costs to €7 nationwide for the first box and just €6 for each additional box. If we’re able to fit your order into fewer boxes than initially charged, we'll always refund the extra box cost. Donegal Bees are always on the lookout for ways to make beekeeping more affordable for you.

Exciting Announcements for May!

Mark your calendars! In May, we're launching two fantastic initiatives:

Fundamentals of Beekeeping Online Course:

Perfect for beginner beekeepers or those looking to refresh their knowledge, this comprehensive 4-day online course covers everything from honey production, swarming, bee health and diseases, and queen breeding. Taught by industry experts, our course will cover all the topics you will need to know to become a commercial beekeeper. Upon completing the course you will receive a Certificate of Completion, and there will be an optional practical day on our premises. In person courses will also soon be available. Stay tuned for dates and pricing details, and to join our waitlist please drop us an email at enquiries@donegalbees.ie.

The Honey Trail: a beekeeper's guide to glencolmcille:

Join us on an enriching beekeeping tour through the picturesque landscapes of Glencolmcille. Immerse yourself in the rich history, culture, and sustainability efforts of beekeeping in the region. Starting and ending at the historic local church, it's a journey you won't want to miss! 

Bee-Friendly Gardening and World Earth Day

As April blooms into full swing, it's the perfect time to sow seeds and create bee-friendly havens in your gardens and fields. Check out our 'Bee Meadow' annual seed packs to kickstart your pollinator-friendly paradise. And don't forget, World Earth Day falls on Thursday, April 18th – a perfect opportunity to celebrate and advocate for our planet's wellbeing.

That wraps up this month's newsletter. Stay tuned for valuable tips and advice on April apiary activities in the section below. Until next time, happy beekeeping!

  • In mid-April; start regular brood nest inspections of larger colonies.  
  • Keep records of that you see. 
  • Look out for signs of swarming.
  • Add a queen excluder and super when the brood box is full of bees.
  • Plant bee-friendly flowers (see our 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.
  • 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. 
  • Courtesy of the Haynes Bees Manual

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.

TIP: Joining a local beekeeping association or club is the best way to learn about the particulars of beekeeping for your region. It’s one of the first things we suggest to anyone looking to become a beekeeper. 

Essential Equipment:

Our Basic Kit includes a beesuit, gloves, smoker, hive tool and a bee brush. €115 

Bear Honey Jar

Cute bear-shaped honey jars! Comes in 4 sizes, with varying coloured screw top hats. Sold seperately, but you can contact our office for bulk order enquiries.

Prices begin at €1.00

All In One Hive Tool

This handy tool combines the functionalities of several different styles of hive tools, such as J-Style, Frame Saver, and Frame Scraper. 

Retails at €9.50.  

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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