Failing to plan is planning to fail. To have a fulfilling beekeeping year, it’s advisable to have a bee calendar. Learn how to use it, plan for the projected bee activities, and save yourself lots of last-minute rush.
A bee calendar highlights the important activities that are happening in the hive every month. It helps the beekeeper to prepare on time. The calendar also helps you estimate the time you spend with the bees in a particular month.
It’s important to learn how to use the bee calendar so that you are set on the activities that will be happening in the hive every month. It takes a while to internalize the calendar, but you can use this as a guide for your beekeeping activities.
What is a beekeeper’s calendar?
A beekeeper’s calendar is a list that shows the sequential order of events bound to occur within the hive every month for the full year.
The calendar is key in helping manage the hive by adapting to the relevant activities during a particular month.
The checklist is an estimate, and it could differ due to weather changes, regional differences, and the type of bees being reared. That’s why you should get a customized one for your region.
A bee calendar comes in handy in helping you raise a strong colony with healthy bees. The calendar will guide you on which equipment to get ready and when.
The calendar helps you know when to open the hive without endangering the colony. It also gives you information on when and how to prevent rodents and other external predators that could interfere with the bee’s timetable.
|January||Bees clustered for the winter.||Keep the hive warm and ventilated|
|February||Clustering may continue with some cleaning flights.||Keep the hive warm, ventilated, and with food.|
|March||Start of egg production.||Inspect hives, feed bees, or collect honey.|
|April||Pollen collection and population increase.||Inspect hives, treat against mites, feed bees, or collect honey.|
|May||Pollen collection and population increase.||Inspect hives, treat against mites, requeen (if needed) feed bees, or collect honey.|
|June||Pollen collection and population increase.||Inspect hives, treat against mites, requeen (if needed) feed bees, or collect honey.|
|July||Pollen collection and population increase.||Inspect hives, treat against mites, requeen (if needed) feed bees, or collect honey.|
|August||Activities dwindling.||Inspect hives, treat against mites, requeen (if needed) feed bees, or collect honey.|
|September||Dwindling activities, declining population.||Inspect hives, treat against mites, requeen (if needed) feed bees, or collect honey.|
|October||Dwindling activities, declining population.||Reduce hive activities and prepare for winter.|
|November||Few activities. Clustering likely.||Final winter preparations.|
|December||Few activities. Clustering.||Provide food and ventilation.|
Bee calendar: month by month
Below, we look at the different activities happening in the hive every month and the beekeeper’s duty during that time:
In January, the conditions and tasks are as follows:
|• The queen is at her best as the worker bees surround her. |
• There is minimal activity in the hive, given the low temperatures.
• No drones in the hive.
• No worker brood.
• Honey consumption is low this month; around a pound or two of honey is enough.
|• Clear the hive to ensure there’s proper ventilation. |
• Prepare the candy boards in readiness for the intense winter season as the months progress.
• Do not supplement the feeds; allow the bees to feed on the syrup from the fall.
The February activities are as follows:
|• Queen bee is still relaxed in the hive due to the prevailing low temperatures.|
• Around the 15th of this month, the worker brood begins to emerge.
• On some random days, there will be cleansing flights.
• They consume more, given that a new brood is being reared.
|• Avoid interfering with hives during this month. Do not open the hive, as it will lose heat; this is not the ideal time.|
• Don’t add new food stores, as the bees won’t leave the cluster to feed on supplements.
• Ensure enough ventilation at the entrance to prevent mold growth from the inside.
• Start gathering equipment in readiness for spring.
For the month of March, the activities and preparations are as follows:
|• Improved egg production.|
• Worker bees begin sending the drones out of the hive.
• Smaller brood nest.
• Diminishing bee numbers.
|• Inspect the hives.|
• Create enough space for combs and the bee’s stores.
• If there is too much honey, you can collect the surplus.
• If there are insufficient stores, feed the bees with sugar syrup.
For April, the activities are as follows:
|• Bees start bringing pollen to the hive.|
• Population grows at an increased rate.
• The queen is busy.
• Drones are a common feature now.
|• Single out a warm day when you inspect the hive and make necessary adjustments, such as clearing the ventilation.|
• Remove any surplus honey or replenish the supplies.
• Eliminate any visible mold and moisture by clearing the boards.
• Dust and treat the hives for termites.
• Eliminate any dead hives from the apiary for inspection.
• Remove the mouse guards.
In the month of May, expect and carry out the following:
|• It’s now all systems go, and there is literally a beehive of activities.|
• Nectar is brought into the hive in hoards.
• Pollen, too, is coming in fast.
• The queen is in her prime laying period.
|• It will be a busy month for you. Regular inspection is necessary, if possible, once per week.|
• Eliminate the mite treatments installed earlier.
• Reverse the brood chambers.
• Monitor the queen’s performance in laying eggs.
• Requeen and eliminate the old queen if the performance is below expectations.
• Monitor the brood patterns.
• Divide the hive and requeen to boost the apiary size and recover from the ruins of winter.
• Work around the frames to entice comb formation.
• Observe and monitor the population growth to prevent swarming.
As for June, the activities are as follows:
|• Queen still laying eggs at a good rate.|
• Honey is in plenty.
• Population is now at its highest, especially among the unswarmed colonies.
• It’s still a busy month.
|• The busy season continues.|
• Increase the inspection rate to ensure the queen is alive and kicking.
• Manage the bees’ population to avoid swarming.
• Consistently check whether the queen is present.
• Requeen the slow colonies so that your apiary is evenly populated.
• Have a nuc with an older queen, preferably one above 2 years. This ensures that, when the worst happens, you are covered by the older queen.
The month of July had the following activities:
|• A lot of nectar around this time.|
• Bees will try to cool themselves outside the hive.
• Nectar flow tapers are common.
|• Harvest extra honey. Leave out colonies with adult bees, and a larger brood should not be overharvested.|
• Queen bee now taking care of the winter bees.
• Inspect and monitor mites around the hives and treat them if you spot some.
• Introduce honey supers in points you identify necessary.
For August, activities are as follows:
|• Nectar flow is not as much.|
• Activities are dwindling within the hive.
• Drones still within.
|• Monitor the honey movement, especially among other bees and wasps. It’s possible for them to be stealing the stores.|
• Continuously monitor any mites invasion.
• If need be, harvest honey for the first few days.
• If you have a young colony, you may not have to harvest the honey.
• Add supplemental feeding where necessary.
September comes with the following activities:
|• Drones begin to vanish.|
• Queen is no longer laying eggs.
• Population in the hive keeps going down.
• Minimal activities.
|• Remove supers and harvest the final honey. Leave the colonies with enough supplies to cover them through winter. |
• Merge the queenless colonies with others that have a queen.
• Treat the termites.
• Minimize accessibility by sealing off the extra entry points.
• Supplement with syrup until the bees have their fill.
• Combine the weak colonies with the strong ones to ensure they survive winter.
For October, expect the following:
|• Warm and calm days will have the bees buzzing with activity.|
• Drones chased out of the hives.
• No more nectar flow.
• Supplement feeding if necessary.
|• Fabricate the hives to match the winter season requirements, such as clear ventilation.|
• Control the moisture that gets to the hive.
• It’s time to set the mouse guards.
• Eliminate the mite treatments.
• Stop feeding the bees medicated syrup.
• Dust the hives.
For November, the beekeeper ought to do the following:
|• Clustering is commonplace.|
• Minimal activity going on.
|• A lot of housekeeping is to be done this month. First, you must clean the equipment in readiness for winter storage.|
• Protect the equipment from rodents’ interference and wax moths.
• Place an absorbent material and sugar blocks in the empty sugar super. Ensure proper placement above the inner top.
• Position a windbreaker in place, especially if you anticipate strong oncoming winds within the locality.
• Wrap the colonies with the correct material, either tar paper or customized commercial wrapping paper.
For the last month of the year, the activities are as follows:
|• It’s a clustering period.|
• Not much activity.
|• Avoid disturbing and keep off any peeping.|
• Not much activity this month, but you must listen closely if the bees are still alive.
• Check out for rodents in the surrounding area and place mouse guards in case you discover a rodent’s path.
• Fix the frames in a cold section to prevent a wax moth attack.
• Remember to enjoy the holidays.
Rules to Observe for Successful Bee Keeping
To successfully maintain your bees using the bees calendar, ensure you observe the following:
- Avoid constantly opening up the hives during winter.
- Clear the ventilation during the winter to prevent mold from forming.
- Create enough space, especially during brooding.
- Prepare for swarms when you notice drones at the entrance.
- Create habitable hives in good time to manage swarms, especially when you plan to requeen.
- Maintain high levels of hygiene across the apiary and consistently carry out health inspections.
- Check for varroa mites as they can narrow down all your efforts to nought if not put in check.
With these tips, your hive will be healthy and productive with minimal losses due to changes in weather conditions.
From the calendar, you can identify summer as the busiest period in the bee’s calendar. The activities range from the queen laying eggs at an aggravated rate to harvesting honey.
If you want to succeed in beekeeping, arm yourself with a bee calendar and stay ahead of the bees in preparation. Imagine playing catch-up with the bees. It’ll be unmanageably difficult.
This is a standard calendar, which may differ slightly for your region. Either way, ensure that you constantly inspect to keep off mites and have a healthy colony. That’s it.