They say “April showers bring May flowers,” which means April Showers bring the bees! May is a busy time in the bee world, and that includes being a beekeeper! While there are tasks that you will do for your hives and your bees throughout the year, May will definitely keep you as busy as a bee, pun definitely intended. 

Whether this is your first May taking care of your hives and the bees or you have been doing it for years, we put together a guide to help make sure you don’t miss any important beekeeping tasks! Keep reading to learn more about what to do in May and be sure to check out our collection of beekeeping supplies! At Galena Farms, we offer a variety of hives, as well as hive parts like hive boxes, top covers, inner covers, and more!

Do an Inspection

Depending on where you live and the climate, May is the perfect time to finally do a thorough inspection after the winter season. You will want to wait to do a full inspection until the days are in or above the mid 50°F and the nights don’t drop below 23°F. Here are a few things to make sure to add to your inspection checklist.

Colony Inspection

Once the weather gets warm enough for your hives to become active again, you will need to inspect your colony starting in May and continue doing colony inspections every 7-9 days. When doing colony inspections you will want to evaluate brood patterns, confirm the presence of the queen, check for eggs, and determine swarming intentions. It is a good idea to keep a record of your inspections so you can tell if something changes and what actions are needed. 

Queen Inspections

As mentioned above, this initial inspection is a good time to check for and confirm the presence of the queen. You can mark the queen before the hive gets too busy. If you don’t find your queen, you have a few options. You can order a new queen, take a frame of brood from another colony, combine hives, or wait a week or two when the weather is nice again and look a second time. A sign that your queen has survived the winter is that you notice brood being laid. While there is a chance you could have laying workers, it could be an indication you still have a queen.

Additional Inspection Tasks

If you have been beekeeping for a while or have more than a few colonies, it may be hard to thoroughly inspect all of them when May arrives. If this is the case for you, start by inspecting the colonies that are showing the least activity on the outside. If you recently installed a package or nuc, you will want to allow two weeks for the colony to establish before inspecting it.

Boost Nutrition

As you are inspecting the hives in the early spring, it is also important to check food reserves and provide your bees with any necessary nutrition. While the bees will likely start foraging for their food in early spring, you should be prepared to help them out when necessary.

Check Food Reserves

March and April can be hard for your bees. During this time, bees may need to rely on the honey they had stored away, but their reserves can deplete over the winter months which could starve the hive. If you didn’t leave enough honey in the hive over winter, you may need to give them extra food. 

A simple way to check the food reserves is to see if the food you placed in the hive over winter is still there. You can also check the tops of the frames to see if there is any capped honey that the bees can enjoy throughout spring. 

Feed Sugar Water and Pollen

If you notice that your bees don’t have a lot of food reserves, you may need to provide them with more nutrition. Feeding your bees sugar water and/or pollen supplements. One thing to keep in mind is that you will have to wait to feed your bees sugar water until the temperatures won’t drop below 23°F. You can continue to feed your bees sugar water until they start to venture out and find their own source of food and nutrients. 

Check for Pests, Parasites and Diseases

Just like every other living thing, bees can be affected by pests, parasites, and diseases. This is another thing you should check for during your springtime inspection. When checking for pests and diseases, you will want to check the outside of the colony, the broods, and on the adult bees themselves. While it is definitely not necessary, not to mention extremely difficult,  to check every single bee in your colony, be sure to examine as many as possible for signs of pests or disease. 

Check for Varroa Mites

Start by monitoring varroa levels. If you find two or more mites per 100 bees from a sugar shake, alcohol wash, or ether roll, you will need to treat it. There are different methods to treat varroa mites and the one you choose will be determined by the condition of the colony, management goals, and other factors. You can find more information about varroa mite treatment in this blog!

Medicate Bees

If you need to medicate your bees, it can simply be done by slipping the medication into the sugar water at the start of spring. Fumagilin-B can be used during the first feeding. This medication helps protect your bees against one of the most common diseases, Nosema. Honey B Healthy can provide your bees with many benefits, but one of the big ones is that it repels varroa mites! 


Spring is a good time to collect any beekeeping equipment you may need for the summer and throughout the rest of the year. One thing that you should be sure to add to your shopping list before May hits is a queen exclude and a honey super. You will want to use these during May. 

Add queen excluder and first honey super

Adding a queen excluder to your hive in the early spring can be beneficial to the health of your colony. You can add a queen excluder to the bottom of your hive below their brood box but above the bottom board. This allows worker bees to exit the hive, get oriented, and find nectar or pollen while keeping your queen inside the brood box. 

A honey super, short for superstructure, allows more storage for honey. In the spring when your bees start to bring in more pollen, they will also start to rear more brood to build their colony for the season. The honey super not only helps to store more honey, but it also reduces hive congestion and prevents reproductive swarming. 

Both the queen excluder and the honey super can help with the overall health and production of your colony and beehive. At Galena Farms, we carry both queen excluders and honey supers. We also offer a wide variety of hive parts and beekeeping accessories to help make your beekeeping journey easier! Be sure to shop through our collection and add a queen excluder and honey super to your list before summer arrives!