The Year's Work
Bees. The queen is surrounded by her workers. She is in the midst of their winter cluster. There is little activity except on a warm day (about 45-50 degrees) 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 25 pounds of stored honey this month.
Beekeeper. Little hive work is required from you. If there is heavy 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.
Bees. The queen, still cosy 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 will consume about 25 pounds of honey this month.
Beekeeper. There is not too much to do this month. Attend the bee club meetings. Read up on the latest beekeeping news and get your equipment sterilised and ready for spring.
Start feeding spring sugar mix
Bees. 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 drones begin to appear. The bees will continue to consume honey stores.
Beekeeper. 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.
Bees. 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.
Beekeeper. 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 deeps. This will allow for a better distribution of brood, and stimulate the growth of the colony.
Bees. 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.
Beekeeper. Place more honey supers on top of the top brood box. Watch out for swarming. Inspect the hive weekly. Attend bee club meetings and workshops.
Bees. Un-swarmed colonies will be boiling with Bees. The queen's rate of egg laying may drop a bit this month. The main honey flow should start to happen this month.
Beekeeper. 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.
Bees. If the weather is good, the nectar flow may continue this month. On hot and humid nights, you may see a huge curtain of bees cooling themselves on the exterior of the hive.
Beekeeper. 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.
Bees. The colony's growth is diminishing. Drones are still around, but outside activity begins to slow down as the nectar flow slows.
Beekeeper. No more chance of swarming. Watch for honey robbing by wasps or other Bees. There is not too much for you to do this month. Have a little holiday.
Bees. The drones may begin to disappear this month. The hive population is dropping. The queen's egg laying is dramatically reduced.
Beekeeper. Harvest your honey crop. Remember to leave the colony with at least 40 pounds of honey for winter. Check for the queen's presence. Continue feeding until the bees will take no more syrup. Start Varroa Treatment.
Bees. Not much activity from the Bees. They are hunkering' down for the winter.
Beekeeper. Watch out for robbing. Install inner cover wedges for ventilation. Install mouse guard at entrance of hive. Place insulation boards under hive cover to help keep colony dry. Setup a wind break if necessary. Finish winter feeding. Don't forget to remove - continue Varroa Treatment if count is still high
Bees. Even less activity this month. The cold weather will send them into a cluster.
Beekeeper. Store your equipment away for the winter. Attend bee club meetings. Continue Varroa Treatment if count is still high
Bees. The bees are in a tight cluster. No peeking.
Beekeeper. As the temperatures may vary over the winter months the bees may also get a little active during the warmer days and therefore it is advisable to make sure you have a block of Candy (fondant) over the crown board hole just in case the bees Get a Little Peckish. as an added precaution you may also want to place a 2.5 to 3 Inch Polystyrene block over the Crown board to help Insulate and maintain a constant temperature within the hive.