- During early March continue to monitor the hive entrance for damage by weather or attack, animal or human!
- Pay close attention to the weight of the hive if weather is warming up. The colony should be growing quickly and food consumption will increase considerably.
- Replace fondant when it is consumed.
- Later in the month consider giving full strength syrup (made by adding 1kg sugar to one pint of hand-hot water) instead of fondant if you wish to continue feeding because food is short or you want to try to stimulate the colony into early growth.
- Buy your stock of new frames, foundation and hive parts for the coming year.
- The colony should be growing very quickly now so food supply will need to be maintained. Feed with syrup if the hives are light.
- On a warm day remove the eke, entrance block and mouse guard if fitted. Check the floor, and clear or replace it with a clean one as necessary.
- If the weather is mild regular brood box inspections can begin: every 14 days if the queen is clipped, every 7 days if she is not.
- Late in the month remove the feeder (if any) and put on a queen excluder and at least one super to give space for the growing numbers. If your bees can reach oil seed rape, they will start foraging on it towards the end of the month and will need storage space.
- Be vigilant. Swarming can begin in late April!
- Consider putting one or more ‘bait hives’ in the apiary to catch swarms.
- Begin thorough and regular inspections of the brood comb.
- Work old comb to the outside so that it can be removed and replaced. Old comb harbours disease and should be replaced systematically as good practice. Aim to change one third of the frames each year.
- Place new frames and foundation either side of the brood nest to allow the queen to increase her nest size.
Congestion can cause swarming. If necessary remove outside frames, but ensure enough food and pollen remains. (Frames with food can be given back in the Autumn after storing in a freezer.)
- Check whether your bees are making honey from oil seed rape: if so remove and extract the supers as soon as they are full. (Oil Seed Rape honey will crystallise very quickly in the comb.)
Additional supers may now be required.
- Consider one or more ‘bait hives’ in the apiary to catch swarms.