Exclusive Advice with Beekeeper Kasper

The beginning of April is a good time to check your hive after Winter. There are a few main things to look out for while doing spring control of the bee colony.

When checking the hives, I gently lift the crown board and give bees a couple of puffs of cool smoke. I take one frame from the end of the box out to give myself a little bit of space to work, you can use frame rests to make this easier. Then I move the frames carefully, going towards the centre of the hive, this means I can see how many stores there are in the hive. Once I see the first frame with brood, I don’t move any more frames. Brood means there is a laying queen in the hive, and there is no need to disturb bees anymore at this stage.

Spring check should not take any longer than five minutes per hive. Once I am sure there is a queen and plenty of stores in the colony, I am closing the hive back. I am tempted to give each hive a block of Candipolline Gold at this point, even if the colony has plenty of stores. The reason why I am doing it is because Candipolline Gold contains natural flower pollen which stimulates the queen to lay more eggs and the colonies to grow nicely.

Do make sure your colony has a minimum of two full sealed frames of stores, ideally more than two so the bees will have enough to keep them going in the spring. Always keep an eye on the honey stores, and if there are less than two frames, I would pour a couple of litres of sugar syrup or add a block of ambrosia fondant on.

For the strong hives that have grown quickly, I will have to add supers for honey by the end of April. Even if the weather is not very good for collecting a lot of nectar from spring crops, I will still have to add extra boxes to stop bees swarming from mid-April onwards. This month I will check all the supers and brood chambers I have in storage, making sure I have enough boxes to see me through summer. I have a few spare brood chambers filled with frames for any unexpected swarms.

Every year I am putting at least one complete hive with foundation on each apiary as a swarm box. It is always handy to have a spare hive going in case there is a need to split the colony because of swarming.

For Small Colonies:

I have one colony which came out smaller after the winter. So, I will add one frame with emerging brood from the strong hive to boost this colony around mid-April. It is important to boost weak hives with emerging brood so the brood will emerge in the next couple of days after adding and it will not get chilled which could make a lot more damage than good. When I am choosing a frame with emerging brood, I am looking for dark capping on the brood and some bees emerging from that frame. Once I found the perfect comb, I am gently shaking the bees off, and I am adding the frame right next to the brood frames in the weak hive.

April Honey Recipe by Gill Meller:

Looking for a tasty new breakfast dish? Gill Meller shares another delicious recipe;

‘If a blood orange bled it would bleed honey.’ I can’t recall who said that, but I liked the idea, and perhaps somehow it inspired this recipe, one of my favourite winter fruit salads. Raw rhubarb is really crisp and zingy and needs only the lightest tempering from honey and sweet citrus to round it. If you’re not a fan of yoghurt, you can leave it out, but I like the balance it brings.

Rhubarb, blood orange, toasted almonds, honey & yoghurt


  • 1 forced rhubarb stick
  • 2 blood oranges
  • 1 teaspoon lightly crushed fennel seeds
  • 2–3 tablespoons runny honey
  • 1 tablespoon flaked almonds
  • 2–3 tablespoons thick natural yoghurt


  • Slice the rhubarb into rounds of about 3–4mm (1⁄8in) thick and place in a bowl. Peel the oranges – I do this with a knife, which removes most of the pith – and slice them into rounds around their circumference to roughly the same thickness as the rhubarb.
  • Add the orange slices to the rhubarb along with the crushed fennel seeds and half the runny honey. Allow to stand while you toast the almonds. Place them in a small pan and set over a medium heat. Cook gently, tossing regularly, until they have taken on a warmer, golden colour.
  • Arrange the orange and rhubarb slices equally over two plates. Spoon over a little yoghurt, scatter over the toasted almonds and finish by trickling over the remaining honey.

Order Gill’s Time cookbook for more recipes or follow @gill.meller on Instagram.

Photography: Andrew Montgomery

Photographer of the Year Competition 2022

We are delighted to announce the return of NBSPOTY following another year of fantastic entries.

This year we have 8 categories to enter and 9 fantastic prizes to be won, including the grand prize of a National Hive Starter Kit! Plus 8 runners up with win a cedar solitary bee nester. Head to our NBS POTY page for all the details on how to enter!


Header image: James Wong