Keep in mind that the weather, climate, neighborhood and even the type of bees will dictate what you should be doing. This list is only an overview of what’s happening each month in the hive. There are also suggested tasks for the beekeeper. Remember this is only a general guide.
If the weather is good, the nectar/honey flows this month. On hot and humid nights, you may see a huge curtain of bees cooling themselves on the exterior of the hive.
Continue inspections to assure the health of your colony. Add more honey supers if needed. Keep your fingers crossed in anticipation of a great honey harvest.
The colony’s growth is diminishing. Drones are still around, but outside activity begins to slow down as the nectar flow slows.
No more chance of swarming. Watch for honey robbing by wasps or other bees.
The drones may begin to disappear this month. The hive population starts dropping as the queen’s egg laying reduces.
Harvest your honey crop. Remember to leave the colony with at least 25 kilograms of honey for winter. Check for the queen’s presence.
Not much activity from the bees. They are hunkering’ down for the winter.
Watch out for robbing. Install inner cover wedges for ventilation. Install mouse guard at entrance of hive. Place insulite boards under hive cover to help keep colony dry. Setup a wind break if necessary. Finish winter feeding.
Even less activity this month. The cold weather will send them into a cluster.
The bees are in a tight cluster. No peeking.
There’s not much you can do with the bees. Read a good book on beekeeping!
The queen is surrounded by thousand of her workers. She is in the midst of their winter cluster. There is little activity except on a warm day (about 7-10 degrees Celcius) when the workers will take the opportunity to make cleansing flights. There are no drones in the hive, but some worker brood will begin to appear in the hive. The bees may consume up to 10 kilograms of stored honey this month.
Little work is required from you at the hives. If there is snow, make certain the entrance to the hive is cleared to allow for proper ventilation. This is a great time to catch up on your reading about bees, attend bee club meetings, and build and repair equipment for next season. Order package bees (if needed) from a reputable supplier.
The queen, still cozy in the cluster, will begin to lay a few more eggs each day. It is still “females only” in the hive. Workers will take cleansing flights on mild days. The bees may consume up to 10 kilograms of stored honey this month.
There is not too much to do this month. Attend bee club meetings/workshops, read and ready your equipment for spring.
This is the month when colonies can die of starvation. However, if you fed them plenty of sugar syrup in the autumn this should not happen. With the days growing longer, the queen steadily increases her rate of egg laying. More brood means more food consumed. The bees will continue to consume honey stores.
Early in the month, on a nice mild day, and when there is no wind and bees are flying, you can have a quick peek inside your hive. It’s best not to remove the frames. Just have a look-see under the cover. If you do not see any sealed honey in the top frames, you may need to begin some emergency feeding. But remember, once you start, you should not stop until they are bringing in their own food supplies. If you are planning on getting swarms have enough equipment on hand and ready to go.
The weather begins to improve, and the early blossoms begin to appear. The bees begin to bring pollen into the hive. The queen is busily laying eggs, and the population is growing fast. The drones will begin to appear.
On a warm and still day do your first comprehensive inspection. Can you find evidence of the queen? Are there plenty of eggs and brood? Is there a nice pattern to her egg laying? Later in the month, on a very mild and windless day, you should consider reversing the hive brood boxes. This will allow for a better distribution of brood, and stimulate the growth of the colony. You can begin to feed the hive .
Now the activity really starts hopping. The nectar and pollen should begin to come into the hive thick and fast. The queen will be reaching her greatest rate of egg laying. The hive should be bursting with activity.
Add a queen excluder, and place honey supers on top of the top deep. Watch out for swarming. Inspect the hive weekly. Attend bee club meetings and workshops.
Unswarmed colonies will be boiling with bees. The queen’s rate of egg laying may drop a bit this month. The main honey flow should happen this month.
Inspect the hive weekly to make certain the hive is healthy and the queen is present. Add honey supers as needed. Keep up swarm inspections. Attend bee club meetings and workshops.