Have you thought about how planning a year of beekeeping can transform your success as a beekeeper?
Allowing yourself to prepare for each season in advance to give your bees the best chance to, not only survive, but thrive? I created an awesome beekeeping planner just for you, grab it below and follow along for my tips and tricks on planning a year of beekeeping.
In this episode:
- You’ll learn the main tasks to have a successful year of beekeeping through each season.
- Resources to be a better beekeeper, whether you’re just getting started or an old pro.
- Beekeeping month by month.
Spring is kind of the beginning of a beekeeping year. If you’re new to bees then this will be when your bee packages will be arriving or you might be getting some replacement packaged bees, whatever it may be this is where it all starts.
If you’re not replacing any bees and your hives have made it through winter then you want to go ahead and inspect them on the first warm day of the year. It needs to be 50-60 degrees Farenheit, which is around March here in Kansas most years. The first thing you want to look for when you do that first inspection is to check for your queen. She should be laying already and there should already be a brood. You can always check on the population in your hive box to see how your bees favored through winter.
If the boxes are about 80% still full of bees then you’re doing pretty well. If they’re half or less than half of your population then you’re going to definitely want to check and make sure you have a queen. If you don’t then you’re going to want to re-queen that hive.
If you’re doing packaged bees you’re going to want all of your boxes ready to go and you’re going to want to install them carefully. The release needs to be slow so that the queen is goes with her package. Once the bees are in the hive you’re going to want to be sure that they’re fed. I use a 2 to 1 sugar water ratio in mason jar feeders that I installed right inside the entrance. If you’re beyond your first year of beekeeping and you’re wanting to grow your hive then it may be time to split your hive which you can read more about below.
You’re going to see a lot of flight happening in April, May, and June before it gets super hot and the dandelions are in bloom. You’re going to see a lot of them feeding on the dandelions and bringing that pollen and nectar back to the hive preparing for nectar flow and honey making time. So be sure to put the supers on some time around early June.
If you’re concerned about ventilation in the hive because of heat you and use an open bottom board to help ventilation. During summer you might have a honey crop as well. You don’t want to check the hives too often because with each inspection you’re disrupting their process and bothering the bees. You really only want to check on them every two weeks. While they’re making honey you don’t need to feed them. You can take the sugar water away.
There’s not a lot to do in the summer but when you inspect the hive beside that they’re low on parasites, that there’s a brood, and see if they’re making honey on the supers. Just be careful during honey making time because those bees can get pretty protective of their hive this time of year. So be sure that you have your protective gear on, the suit, gloves, and sturdy boots.
The number one task for fall is to check for parasites. You need to be on the look out for fur mites. There’s several ways to check for mites and one of them is the powdered sugar test. One of the ways I prevent mites is to use oxalic acid. Some people spray oxalic acid in their hives but I prefer to soak shop towels and lay them inside for the workers to rub on.
If you didn’t get a summer honey harvest then you might have a fall honey harvest in September or October. Again, only inspect the hive every two weeks. It’s so important not to disturb your bees too much, you’ll have a lot more success if you stay out of your hive. The only time I recommend getting into your hive more often is if you’re dealing with a problem like parasites or wax laws.
Late fall is also when I get ready for winter. The number one task here for this time of year is to get our candy boards made. We normally put them in the hives around the first part of December. As far as maintenance goes during the winter there isn’t much to do once those candy boards are in.
You definitely don’t want to be opening your hives during winter. If you do get a rare 60* day and you want to check your hives then that’s okay, otherwise you definitely want to protect your bees from the cold. The other thing you want to watch for is if you get any snow. You want to be sure to brush it off your hives because you don’t want any moisture getting into your hives.
One way to check on your hive in the winter without opening them is to put your ear up to the hive and listen for a low vibration. That is the bees vibrating in their cluster keeping warm and healthy inside. If you don’t hear your bees then they may not have made it through the winter you’ve experienced so far. There are a lot of reasons your bees might not have made it but they’re typically not cold related since they can cluster together, vibrate, and stay warm that way. One of the biggest reasons bees don’t make it is because they didn’t have enough to eat.
Whether you’re planning your first year of beekeeping or you’re looking for resources to become a better beekeeper next year then you’ll want to check out our resources below for lists for your beekeeping supplies, posts about beekeeping for beginners, and of course my beekeeping planner.