May Newsletter

Hello Beekeepers! Welcome to our May newsletter. As always, we’ll start off by sharing some Donegal Bees updates.

Our 2022 catalogue has now been reviewed and is almost ready for distribution. If you’d like to receive a copy, please contact our office at enquiries@donegalbees.ie or give us a quick call at 074 9710140. In the meantime, you can find all our products and up-to-date prices and stock availability on our website.

We launched our new Bee Meadow Seed Mix pouches which are available in a 40g or 100g packet, and we’re glad to see how well they are selling! The Bee Meadow Seed Mix will provide a continuous display of nectar and pollen-rich flowers to help feed the bees & pollinators in your garden. Find them here

We also are now selling our own custom-made Garden Furniture range, as seen outside our premises in Glencolumcille. The range includes a Wooden Flower Planter, Wooden Bench, and Wooden Bench Seat. Collection, if ordered, is necessary due to their size and weight, however to discuss shipping options please contact our office. You can find them here.

We were delighted to host a STEM workshop to members of FIBKA last month. Donegal Bee’s Thomas gave an informative tour of our workshops, from the building and assembly of our hives to a demonstration of how we make foundation sheets with our wax machines. We hope everyone who attended enjoyed themselves and that the day was educational for all involved! 

There was a buzz of excitement here in Glencolumcille the last few weeks thanks to a certain Hollywood star. Actors Liam Neeson and Ciaran Hinds were in the area filming their new blockbuster movie In The Land of Saints and Sinners. To thank the production for we put together some gift packs that we hope the cast and crew will enjoy! Actress Sarah Greene was kind enough to share hers on Instagram :)

  • Make sure that colonies have sufficient room for the queens to lay. 
  •  Replace empty supers to prevent colony congestion. 
  •  Continue adding supers as each new box on the hive fills with bees. 
  •  Continue regular brood nest inspections, keep an eye out for swarm cells. 
  •  List the steps of your chosen method of swarm control. 
  •  Set up swarm traps or Bait Hives. 
  •  Remove supers or frames full of honey that are ready for extraction. 
  •  Make sure you have all the necessary equipment to hand. 
  •  Remember to fill in your Colony Record Cards each time you inspect a hive. 

Courtesy of the Haynes Bee Manual (available from Donegal Bees @ €25)

May flowers are popping up everywhere and your hives are busy. The bee population is expanding rapidly and there’s plenty to do for every member of the hive, plus the avid beekeeper.

May Bees

Now the activity really starts hopping. Be prepared; May is a major swarming month. The queen will be approaching her maximum rate of egg laying and new hives will be building comb as fast as they can. Established hives will be busy collecting nectar and pollen, which will now be abundant and coming into the hive fast.

Beekeeping and Spring Cleaning 

If you weren’t able to get to it last month, a good spring cleaning is needed, as soon as possible. Clean the bottom board, reverse and inspect the brood boxes.

Look for queen activity and evaluate brood pattern. Continue feeding until they stop taking it or until you install honey supers. This is especially important for new hives as they are building comb and raising brood with every available resource.

Watch for swarming 

Be aware of swarm indicators and control protocols. For existing hives, it’s critical that you monitor and add supers as needed; otherwise, your hive may swarm if it’s strong and growing. When inspecting, look for swarm cells on the bottom of frames. Remove them if you can, but your best option is to monitor and add supers before they feel congested and start making swarm preparations. If the hive is very congested, you can also consider hive splitting or setting up a bait hive. Keep your veil tight, your smoker lit, and your hive tool handy. It’s just good beekeeping!

Bait Hives

This is basically a spare box or hive normally placed in an existing apiary. Swarm lures and wipes can be used to encourage to swarms into it. Old comb can also used, for example some frames from another colony, as the bees like smell of wax. An example to use would be the National Polystyrene Nucleus (Type 2) which ranges from €75 to €96. 

By May, your mite treatments should be completed and removed from the hive before adding honey supers. You may also add queen excluders at this time, and supers can be placed on top of your brood box. Other tasks on the beekeeper’s calendar include installing package bees and conducting your first hive inspection a week or so later. Make a habit of inspecting all established hives weekly. 

As the queen begins laying eggs at a greater rate, hives with a larger population may prepare for swarming. By keeping an eye out for queen cells, you may be able to tell if a swarm is in the making. Late May into June is a great time to catch a swarm of bees, too, so be sure to have a hive ready in case you have the opportunity. 

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. 

Federation of Irish Beekeepers Association - https://irishbeekeeping.ie/

​Irish Beekeepers Association CLG - https://www.irishbeekeepersassociation.com/

Essential Equipment:

  • Protective Clothing, Smoker, Hive Tools
  • New Frames and Foundation
  • Spare Brood Chamber/s
  •  Bait Hives & Swarm Lures
  •  Colony Records
  •  Queen Excluders
  • https://www.donegalbees.ie/collections/queen-excluders/products/framed-wired-round-bar-queen-excluder

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

To celebrate World Bee Day on the 20th of May, this month we are running a giveaway of our National Polystyrene Hive Starter Kit (Type 3)! 

This Starter Kit includes a Lyson National Polystyrene Hive (i.e. Mesh Floor with sliding poly-tray, Reversible Entrance Block, Brood Chamber, Super, 6" Deep Roof, Polystyrene Crownboard with 5 ventilated openings), a Plastic Queen Excluder, 11 x National Deep Hoffman Frames (Flat), 11 x Premier Deep Wired Foundation, 11 x National Shallow Hoffman Frames (Flat), 11 x Premier Super Wired Foundation, Frame Nails, a Beesuit, Gloves, Smoker, Stainless-Steel Hive tool, Bee Brush and 4 Pint Rapid Feeder!

To enter the giveaway make sure you're signed up to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook & Instagram. Details on how to enter will be shared through our emails and social media accounts next week! 


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

1 comment

  • Could you please send me on a 2022 Catalogue Many thanks Paul Corbet

    Paul Corbet

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