Overview of Seasonal Management Tasks

EARLY SPRING - Main Goal Is Preventing Starvation

As Spring begins, the queen starts laying eggs and the winter bees transition into nurse bees. While some pollen is being foraged, the colony may consume its remaining winter honey stores with the resurgence of brood production.

Beekeeping Management

  1. Prevent Starvation: Bees may require emergency feeding. You can feed them fondant or mountain camp in the medium spacer box or above the deep exchange box, depending on your winter configuration. On days with temperatures above 55 degrees, provide 1:1 sugar syrup.
  2. Move Brood Down: If bees are in the deep exchange box (a winter configuration option), move the cluster down into the brood box and reapply the queen excluder and medium spacer box. If you have a screened bottom board, ensure it is closed. Consider redistributing brood from stronger hives to weaker hives for equalization.
  3. Enjoy observing bees bringing back early spring pollen.


SPRING - Main Goal Is Preventing Swarming

Spring ushers in rapid brood production and exponential colony population growth. The primary nectar flow commences, marking the swarming season.

Beekeeping Management

  1. Once the brood box is brimming with bees and contains at least 6 frames of brood, introduce the exchange deep nuc box above the medium nuc spacer and perform the first Demaree. Remove 4 or 5 brood frames from the brood chamber, leaving a frame with open brood (including the queen) and a frame of emerging capped brood. Replace brood frames with drawn comb or foundation.
  2. Add (2) medium nuc honey supers over the exchange box.
  3. Regularly inspect the brood chamber for queen cells and remove them or use them for creating new colonies.
  4. Reevaluate the need for repeat demaree every 2 weeks.


EARLY SUMMER - Main Goal Is Honey Harvesting And Making Splits

With summer's arrival it's time to harvest honey, and your bee colony should reach its peak population if swarming has been prevented.

Beekeeping Management

  1. Harvest honey supers when at least 80% of the frames are capped.
  2. Consider preserving the honey that will fill up the deep exchange box for later use by the bees.
  3. If you wish to increase your number of colonies, make splits. A double screen board placed between the medium spacer box and the deep exchange box is an effective method for creating splits.
  4. Initiate monthly mite counts using a brood frame from the brood box to collect 1/2 cup of bees.


SUMMER - Main Goal Is Mite Management

Hive management slows as the nectar flow diminishes. Bees are less likely to swarm, but if they do you will need to ensure a successful requeening process.

Beekeeping Management

  1. Conduct monthly mite counts.
  2. Treat for mites if mite levels exceed 2%.
  3. Remove all supers above the exchange box.
  4. Consider requeening the colony if the queen is not laying well.


FALL - Main Goal Is Mite Management and Winter Prep

As fall approaches, your beekeeping season winds down. Your colony may have provided a harvestable honey crop. Ensure there's enough honey left for the bees to survive the winter, and be vigilant for mite issues.

Beekeeping Management

  1. Treat for mites when levels exceed 2%.
  2. Inspect the colony for signs of diseased bees or brood.
  3. Feed colonies 2:1 sugar syrup if they lack sufficient honey frames for winter.
  4. Decide on your winter configuration, either an empty medium spacer box above the queen excluder or a deep exchange box above the brood box. If the deep exchange box contains honey, the latter option is recommended.


WINTER - Main Goal Is To Keep The Colony Warm and Dry

During winter, bees take a well-deserved rest as the days shorten, temperatures drop, and foraging ceases. Bees enter a state of torpor, slowing their metabolism.

Beekeeping Management

  1. Shield the hive from cold winds, especially if it's in an exposed area, by using a windbreak.
  2. If you employ screened bottom boards, seal them with a white board or a piece of plywood beneath the hive.
  3. Place a 1-inch foam board insulation beneath the hive's lid. Wrapping the entire hive with insulation depends on your location.
  4. If your hive becomes light during winter, supply sugar or fondant as an emergency food source.
  5. Take advantage of the downtime to further your knowledge of beekeeping by reading.