Hive Maintenance

Maintaining your hives is essential. It makes the beekeepers life easier and will hopefully result in healthier colonies.

Spring

Early spring management is primarily concerned with sufficient   food stores and secondly with disease and mite control. Colonies are most likely to starve in Spring than Winter.

March

Anytime that a colony has less than 20 pounds of food (3 full depth frames of honey), feed with a sugar syrup solution. Early feeding will stimulate the colony to build a large early population. Continue feeding until they stop taking syrup. Feed pollen supplements or substitutes, if   necessary.

Apply any treatments deemed necessary. See our chemicals treatment page for more details and our bee dieases page for more info.

Remember to stop all treatments of medication five to six weeks before adding honey supers to the colony to prevent contamination of the honey that may be harvested.

Check for and clean up dead colonies.

Clean out entrances and bottom boards.

Unite weak colonies.

April

Inspect hives weekly. Strengthen weak colonies with queenless packages.

Introduce package bees on drawn combs.

Monitor colony stores, especially if weather is cold and   wet.

Requeen colonies with failing queens.

Remove entrance reducers.

Reverse brood chambers when weather moderates.

Continue checking colonies for disease.

Add supers to strong colonies at the time of extra tree and plant bloom.

Equalize colony strength.

Set out bait hives with pheromones.

May

Inspect hives weekly. Monitor colonies for queen cells and control swarming, adding more space if necessary.

If you decide to use queen excluders, place it below shallow   honey super.  It is a must for colonies for comb honey.

Install packages on foundation.

Split strong colonies.

Capture swarms.

Summer

June

  • Inspect weekly.
  • Continue to check for queen cells.
  • Rear queens if you prefer your own stock.
  • Check colonies for disease.
  • Remove comb honey supers when properly sealed.
  • Provide plenty of super space.
  • Control swarming.
  • Capture swarms.
  • Replace defective combs with full sheets of   foundation.

July

  • Remove comb honey supers when properly sealed.
  • Check for queen cells.
  • Add sufficient super space for Sourwood .
  • Check mite levels.
  • Remove and extract early season honey crop.
  • Freeze comb honey to prevent wax moth damage.
  • Inspect colonies ,look for presence of queen and new   brood,remove queen cells,check for mites,congestion in the hive,remove burr comb   and the bees should be making plenty of stores this year.

August

  • Remove and extract summer honey crop.
  • Please leave the bees sufficient winter stores.
  • Remove section supers.
  • Do not work bees unless necessary to avoid   robbing.
  • Add more space if needed.

September

  • Provide Supers for Autumn Goldenrod and Aster flow.
  • Do not remove honey after start of Autumn   medication.
  • May need to requeen colonies.
  • Unite weak colonies.
  • Remove queen excluders.  If the queen excluder is left on in the   winter, the colony runs the risk of having the cluster move through the excluder   leaving the queen below to freeze to death.
  • Check colonies for disease.
  • Typically colonies are treated for mites in the late summer or   early Autumn.  Various treatments include Apistan, CheckMite+ and Formic   acid.
  • Placing grease patties of sugar and grease in the hive is a   holistic treatment for tracheal mites.

October

  • Begin Autumn feeding.
  • Feed and medicate your colony.
  • Apply any treatments deemed necessary
  • Unite weak colonies.
  • Prepare colonies for winter.
  • Put on entrance reducers to keep out mice.
  • Extract honey from Autumn flow taken prior to Autumn   medication.

November

  • Continue late Autumn feeding
  • Ventilation in bee hives is very important at all times, but   more so in the winter when cold temperatures keep the colony confined.  Make   sure air can enter the hive from the top and bottom, thereby allowing oxygen to   flow in and carbon dioxide to flow out.
  • Finish handling honey crop.
  • Develop your honey marketing program.

Winter

December

  • Be sure that the hive has adequate ventilation, especially in the winter when cold temperatures keep the colony confined.
  • Monitor the hive entrance. Brush off any dead bees or snow that block the entrance.
  • Repair and assemble hive parts.
  • Develop a marketing program for the holiday season.
  • Order new equipment for the coming season.

January

  • Check honey stores, begin emergency feeding if necessary.
  • Clean, paint and repair equipment.
  • Check apiary for hive condition.
  • Order packages, nucs, queens.
  • Read past years’ diary and prepare for the coming year.

February

  • Check honey stores.
  • Continue emergency feeding.
  • Clean up dead colonies.

Bee Hive Woodwork Preservation

Hives in good condition are a pleasure to use, look good and have a higher resale value. They can also save the beekeeper time when manipulating hives.

Some will say “the bees do not care whether their hives are good, bad or indifferent”, but properly treated hives are easier for the beekeeper to manipulate. This means less disruptions to the bees and this can have a noticeable effect; lack of stress, better wellbeing, more productive.

Roofs and stands do not need to breath and can be painted with exterior grade gloss paint.  Floors and coverboards can have their upper and lower rims treated with Petroleum jelly (with white spirit added as a solvent/thinner). This soaks in and no propolis will then stick making cleaning easier and quicker. All non contact surfaces on these items can be treated with raw linseed oil.

Brood boxes, supers and ekes can have petroleum jelly applied to upper and lower mating surfaces as well as the rebate that takes the frame lugs. The outer surface is treated with raw linseed oil and the inner surfaces are left untreated.  Frame lugs should not be coated to avoid slippage when handling, but a thin coat of petroleum jelly can be applied to the top surface of the top bar and a generous dab onto the end grain on the tips of the frame lugs.