Beekeeper Calendar – what should I be doing this month?

This page was established to help with suggested activities a beekeeper should be doing each month for their hive. The type of bees, where your bees are located and the type of hive you have should be taken into consideration as every beekeeper have their own methods and needs.  How much time you spend with your bees is up to you. Some feel the need to spend more time in the hive than other back yard beekeepers. But hopefully this page will give you some insight on what you should or could be doing each month with your hive(s).

helpful link from Beekeeper for Dummies

 

JANUARY:

Your bees are most likely all surrounding the queen in a large cluster with in the hive. There should be very little activity observed from your hive. except for on our nice warm days we tend to have here. When the outside temperature gets above 40-50 degrees, you should see workers taking the opportunity to get out of the hive. Making cleansing flights for the most part. There are no drones in the hive at this time. The bees would be feeding from their honey stores. so hopefully you left them some of their summer forage to dine on.  The bees do have longer life spans in the winter months. You will still have bee deaths though throughout the winter. On these warmer days, you may see a large number of dead bees outside the hive. This is part of the hive clean up. Since the dead bees ball to the bottom of the hive, the worker bees will take this warm weather advantage to clean out the dead bees.

As the beekeeper, what should you be doing? make sure your hive is still in good order. Lids are on and not detached. the openings are clear of snow so that the hive can continue to be well ventilated.  If you left or observed large honey stores in the fall. You should be fine at this time. Although you may need to ’emergency feed’ your bees if it has been unusually warm. You may need to feed with fondant or sugar water. But otherwise this is a great time of year to work on honey super repair, order your bees and new hardware for new hives or expansion. You should not have to spend any time at all with your bees in January other than observe your hive.

 

FEBRUARY:

Your queen should still be tucked away in the cluster of bees. There are still no drones in the hive at this time. cleansing flights will be seen more often as you may start to see more warm days happening. but the hive is still very much in winter mode. The queen and hive will start to notice the longer days and she will begin to lay more eggs daily.

As the beekeeper, you should be doing pretty much what you did in January. do not be getting into you hive unless it is at least 50 degrees or warmer, and be in there briefly. do not remove frames or anything that may send a chill down into the hive. You should only be checking to see if their honey stores are still available. if not, you may want to ’emergency feed’.  Some beekeepers may keep honey frames in their freezer or storage and replace empty honey frames with frames full of honey from the fall harvest. This is the best way to feed your bees. Other options would be pollen patties or sugar water. But keep an eye on that temperature. This is a must have to do month for ordering your bees and hardware. do this now if you want it to arrive in time for spring.

 

MARCH

March is the month where your bees could die of starvation if you did not leave them with enough honey stores in the fall or feed them well in autumn. The days are growing longer and the queen knows this. She will increase her egg laying rate. This means they will definitely need food as the colony increases in size. If their honey stores are depleted, now would be a good time to start feeding if they have depleted their own honey stores to get them going for the spring. Drones should also start to appear in the brood.

As the beekeeper you should not be getting in the hive unless the days are above 45-50 degrees, there is no wind or breeze. It’s best not to remove frames if you do get into the hive unless you are inspecting on a day much warmer than 50 degrees. You should only need to peek in the top to see how their honey stores look. If it appears that they have used all their honey store, you may want to do some emergency feeding of sugar water to get their energy up and to keep feeding until you notice they are bringing in their own food supplies. Now would also be a good opportunity to do a varroa mite treatment or at least do one soon if this is something you treat for in your hive in you location.  With the bee population increasing, now would be a good time to remove the entrance reducer and mouse guards so help alleviate traffic jams at the door. Now would also be a good time to reverse your brood boxes. put the lower empty one above the upper fuller one. This will help reduce the chance of your hive swarming on you. Another would be to add a empty honey super to give the hive more room. If you left a honey super on in the fall, just leave it on for them to get a early start refilling.  Now if you haven’t ordered your hardware, you’re going to be hitting the suppliers at their busiest time. You really need to order in January.

 

APRIL

The days are warm and long. But there is that chance of a cold snap to happen. You will notice the bees bringing in more nectar and pollen. The queen should be laying at full capacity and you’ll see your hive population growing.

As the beekeeper,  keep feeding your weaker hives. Stronger hives you shouldn’t be feeding. No supers should be on your weak hives. Inspect your hives, look at the brood boxes. Can you find your queen? do you see eggs? how is the laying pattern? is it solid or scattered?  if it is not solid, you may want to replace your queen. If you are finding your weak hives continue to struggle, you may want to consider combining the weak hive with another.  Stronger hives are better at keeping away pests and disease.  Swarm season is here!  swarming is the method bees use to grow their populations. It is not that you did a bad job with the hive, this is completely natural. So keep some extra hardware on hand so that if and when your hive swarms, you can capture it and provide a space for the swarm. To help prevent swarming, add one or two honey supers on your hive to give the hive more room and feel less cramped.

 

MAY

Your hives should be at their full operation. You should see lots of nectar and pollen being brought to the hive. You should not be feeding your hive at this time. Brood chambers should be full of eggs and larvae. Make sure your brood boxes are not looking congested as this will encourage swarming.  Your bees should be busy filling honey supers. You can create a small entrance at your supers by drilling a 1″ hole in a super or by adding a small entrance spacer.

 

JUNE

Bees should still be working hard filling up honey supers as the flows continue. Your hive could still swarm in June, so keep your swarm management or be prepared with extra hive bodies to place the swarm. Be on the lookout for swarms in your neighborhood too. You should see bees hanging out on the porch of your hive. Some may confuse this with the hive wanting to swarm. But the days are just getting too warm for them in the hive. So they’re just cooling off outside and may also be fanning cooling air into the hive. This gathering is also called “bearding”.

Continue monitoring your hive. The bees will need lots of water in the coming weeks. Be sure you provide a good water source someplace in your yard. You want to be a good neighbor and not have them bugging your neighbors pool or pet bowls.  You could even put a feeder on with just water, no sugar. Having plenty of water will also help your bees keep the hive cooler.

 

JULY

The nectar flow has or will be coming to an end. Your bees will be search for nectar as best they can. They are beginning to prepare for the winter and get as much stored up as possible.

As the beekeeper, you will be harvesting soon. some may want to test and treat for mites this month. Not a great idea if you have honey supers on as you don’t want to contaminate your supers with any chemicals.  It would be best to first harvest your honey then treat for mites either chemically or with powdered sugar.  If you are finding that the bees are not storing honey in your upper supers, you may be honey bound. Move the middle frames of honey UP to the next super replacing the lower ones with empty frames to encourage them to move up and fill more supers.

 

AUGUST

August is pretty much like July. Nectar supplies are becoming harder to find. Good plants to have planted in your bee yard would be Golden Rod and Aster plants. They are great sources for late summer nectar.

As the beekeeper, Take off your supers, it’s time to harvest. Maybe consider leaving one honey super on the hive for your bees. Do you really need all the honey? it will give them extra stores for the winter and also help eliminate any ’emergency winter feedings’.  Some beekeepers will even store full honey frames for either cut honey comb or for feeding the hive in January by replacing empty honey frames with saved honey frames. it is best to feed your bees their own food.  Continue to monitor your hive for mites. you could treat after you have harvested your honey supers. How did your queen perform this summer?  This would be an opportunity to requeen if necessary.

 

SEPTEMBER

The hive is prepping for winter. Depending on how your summer is going. There are not many sources for nectar right now except for Golden Rod and Aster plants. Your queen will begin to lay fewer eggs and will be laying just enough for the winter workers.  You’ll begin to notice fewer drones and maybe even see them being evicted from the hive.

As the beekeeper, keep inspecting your hive. Be aware of cooler temperatures before opening your hive. Now would be a good time to determine the strength of your hive and evaluate its performance. Check for the queen. How is her laying pattern. Is the laying pattern solid and strong. If you feel the hive is weak, and has too few bees. You may want to combine with another hive in the same condition to create one stronger hive. Plan on feeding them through the winter if they appear weak and have limited stores at this time going into winter.  Remove all excess supers, make the hive more compact. Install your entrance reducers and if mice are an issue, mouse guards.

 

OCTOBER

bees should be moving more into winter stages now. You’ll notice fewer flights. The queen should be slowing down on laying eggs.

As the beekeeper, prepare your hive for winter. build a wind break if your hive is in the open. A large strong hive will cluster, creating a large ball of bees to keep them all alive. A hive with fewer bees will have a hard time surviving the winter. Moisture can be an issue in the hive. Make sure the hive can ventilate moisture well. Put a small incline/tilt on your hive to encourage any internal moisture to run down the side of the hive rather than drip on top of the bee cluster causing them to freeze. You don’t want your bees wet and cold. Leave your screened bottom board open to allow enough ventilation to happen and reduce moisture. Don’t create any gaps in the upper cover. Don’t wrap your hive for winter, you will increase the chances of condensation. Place a heavy block on your hive lid as you don’t want any chance of it coming off in a harsh winter storm.

 

NOVEMBER

Not much going on outside unless you have some unusually warm days for them to leave the hive for cleansing. Otherwise, your bees are most likely all clustered up staying warm. If the days are warmer, they may break from the cluster and forage for some of their honey stores and do cleansing flights. Then recluster at night when temperatures fall.

 

DECEMBER

The bees are still just clustering in their hive keeping warm. Only breaking away from the cluster during the warmer days and then reclustering. December is pretty much the same as November. On warmer days after fresh snows. Don’t be alarmed if you see large numbers of dead bees just outside the hive. They’re just cleaning out the hive and doing cleansing flights.

as the beekeeper, you may want to start planning your spring. Are you going to need to order bees? what hardware do you need to add for new hives and or for repairs of existing hives. Be prepared to place your order in January so that you get timely delivery of all you need.

 

About NCBA – Northern Colorado Beekeepers Association

The Northern Colorado Beekeepers Association (NCBA) is an organization of both hobbyist and commercial beekeepers.  We exist to provide a forum for education in beekeeping both to our members and to the general public, and for exchange of ideas and experiences.  We also enjoy some ability to provide savings in bees by purchasing as a group.  We are affiliated with the Colorado State Beekeepers Association.  We meet once a month with the above objectives in mind.  Each meeting strives to discuss one or two subjects of interest in beekeeping.  Whenever possible we will discuss beekeeping and hive maintenance activities appropriate for the next month.  We also like to provide time for members to discuss beekeeping among themselves.  Once a year, usually around January, we conduct a multi-session beginning beekeeping class.  On completion of the class, we offer you the opportunity to join the association, to order bees, and we offer you a mentor to help you get off to a good start.  If you have any interest in keeping bees, we encourage you to join us. We believe joining a beekeeping association such as ours is one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to start beekeeping. By joining now you will receive our news letter as well as notification of upcoming classes and meetings.  Dues are modest and affiliates members with the Colorado State Beekeepers Association. See the pages about future and past meetings for examples of meeting content..

Donate

NCBA is a 501c3 organization, and donations are tax deductible.
 
 
Copyright © 2011 Parallelus. All rights reserved.