We’ve talked before about joining your local beekeeping association. You can learn quite a bit from these folks, be it bits and pieces of information you haven’t heard elsewhere to things that may be specific to your particular area.
To that end here’s what we learned from the last meeting at our local beekeeping association, Puget Sound Beekeepers. This calendar is based on the weather here in the Pacific Northwest however the ideas will be the same no matter where you live. The honey season is likely longer for those of you in warmer climates and of course for those in the southern hemisphere the calendar is backwards however adjust accordingly and you’ll get a feel for what happens in your hive.
First we talked about what is needed regarding the location of your apiary. Your apiary should have protection from wind, an established water source, easy access for you and a solid footing so it won’t fall oven when it gets heavy with honey supers. All of these are important for the health of your bees!
First 7 months calendar:
Feb and March
Feed the hives you have established pollen patties (if you decide to) if the colony is big enough to support raising brood. If the colony is small you don’t want to tax their limited resources with raising brood. Plus if their numbers are small they won’t be able to keep the brood warm enough for the brood to hatch successfully.
Time to replace the queen? When you can look for laying patterns and determine if it’s time to requeen. Many beekeepers do this every year. Of course make sure you order your new queen before you pinch the old one!
Clean up the hive, scraping off any burr comb (extra buildup of wax that the bees have made)
Introduce any new foundation for the bees to pull out. If it was time to ditch frames this is the time to do it.
Combine weak hives. If you have a tiny hive that likely isn’t going to make it this is the time to combine them with a stronger hive. You can also combine weak hives together. Either way if the hive is very weak at this time of the year they likely won’t make it so put them with another hive to keep them from dying completely.
FEED! Make sure you’re feeding your bees sugar water. If they aren’t taking it then they don’t need it but let them make that decision.
Any old frames that need to be trashed should go now. Don’t wait until later in the year or you’ll risk losing lots of brood with replacement and also might lose brood do to frames breaking or falling apart.
June July August
It’s surplus honey time. Put on your queen excluder and honey supers. Two at a time works well and will keep you from needing to check if things really go crazy.
You’re likely not feeding sugar water now so take that off.
August is the time to assess the need for any treatment for mites, etc. How is your hive’s health? Are you going to treat or will you let nature run it’s course? What will you treat with? This is the time to make sure you’ve figured this out and get ready to follow through with your plan. Remember, for most treatments you’ll want the honey supers off the hive before you treat.
Populations will start to decline in August so don’t worry about this. They are getting ready for winter.
We’ll be posting more about the beekeeping meeting and the wonderful speaker who talked about catching swarms later this week so keep your eyes open for that. In the meantime share with us below what you learned at your last beekeeping meeting!