The Beekeeper’s Year
The 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
The Beekeeper: Install new packages. Make splits if
you desire. On a warm and still day (55–60° F.) do your
first comprehensive inspection. Can you find evidence
of the queen? Are there plenty of eggs and brood? If the
top box is full and the bottom empty consider reversing
the hive bodies; this will allow for a better distribution of
brood and stimulate the growth of the colony. Towards
the end of the month the honey flow will start. Add a
queen excluder (optional) and honey supers when the
Time Spent: 3 hours.
The Bees: Now the activity really increases. Nectar and
pollen should begin to come into the hive thick and fast.
The queen will reach her greatest rate of egg laying.
The Beekeeper: Watch out for swarming—Mother’s
Day is the peak of the swarm season. Inspect the hive
weekly. Add honey supers as needed.
Time Spent: 4–5 hours this month.
The Bees: Colonies will be boiling with bees. The
queen’s rate of egg laying may drop a bit this month.
The 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.
Time Spent: 4–5 hours.
The 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. This is called "bearding".
The Beekeeper: Not much chance of swarming by now.
Continue inspections to assure the health of your colony.
Add more honey supers if needed.
Time Spent: 2–3 hours.
The Bees: The colony’s growth is diminishing. The
honey flow is over. Drones are still around, but outside
activity begins to slow.
The Beekeeper: Harvest your honey at the beginning of
the month and if there is a dearth consider feeding later
in the month. Consider treating for Varroa mites.
Time Spent: 6–8 hours.
The Bees: The drones may begin to disappear this
month. The hive population is dropping. The queen’s
egg-laying is dramatically reduced.
The Beekeeper: Remember to leave the colony
with at least 75 pounds of honey for winter. Check
for the queen’s presence. Feed until the bees will no
longer take syrup.
Time Spent: 2-3 hours.
The Bees: Not much activity from the bees—they’re
hunkerin’ down for the winter.
The Beekeeper: Watch out for robbing. Install mouse
guard at hive entrance. Insulate hive if you wish to help
keep colony warm and dry. Setup a windbreak if necessary.
Finish winter feeding.
Time Spent: 2 hours.
The Bees: Even less activity this month. The cold
weather will send them into a cluster.
The Beekeeper: Store your equipment away for the
winter. Repair equipment as needed.
Time Spent: About an hour this month.
The Bees: The bees are in a tight cluster. No peeking.
The Beekeeper: There’s nothing you can do with
the bees. Read a good book on beekeeping, and enjoy
Time Spent: None
The Bees: The bees are in their winter cluster. There is
little activity except on a warm day (45–50°) when the
workers will make cleansing flights. There are no drones
in the hive, but some worker brood will begin to appear.
The bees will consume about 25 pounds of stored honey
this month; feed granulated sugar if necessary.
The Beekeeper: Little work is required from you at the
hives. If there is heavy snow, make certain the entrance
to the hive is cleared to allow for proper ventilation.
Time Spent: Less than an hour.
The Bees: The queen, still cozy in the cluster, will
begin to lay a few more eggs each day. Workers will take
cleansing flights on mild days. The bees will consume
about 25 pounds of honey this month.
The Beekeeper: On the first warm day (above 50°)
start feeding 1:1 sugar syrup and give them a pollen patty
to encourage brood rearing.
Time Spent: Less than an hour.
The Bees: This is the month when colonies can die
of starvation, so be ready to feed 1:1 sugar syrup. The
queen steadily increases her rate of egg laying. The
bees will continue to consume honey stores at an ever
The Beekeeper: Early in the month, on a nice mild day
(above 45°) 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. If you do not see any sealed honey
in the top frames, you may need to begin emergency
feeding. Once you start feeding, you should not stop until
they are bringing in their own food supplies. On a warm
and still day do your first comprehensive inspection and
check for evidence of a laying queen.
Time Spent: 2 hours this month.