Monthly Tasks & Timetable

January

  • Check hive entrances clear/predator damage
  • Oxalic/lactic acid treatment for Varroa (if not done in December)
  • Heft to check stores

February

  • Check stores/emergency feeding
  • Check hive entrances clear/predator damage
  • Prepare new frames of foundation

March

  • The Apiary in March, BBKA Newsletter (click on thumbnail to enlarge text)
  • Check stores/emergency feeding
  • Hive Records -Get the new sheets/book all ready
  • Replacing brood boxes/floors/queen excluders and a general cleaning up
  • Varroa monitoring and treatment with apiguard or similar
  • If it’s warm and not too windy first inspection (+13C)
  • Queen clipping and marking only if warm enough

April

  • Regular hive inspections. Check for:-
    • queen
    • space
    • stores
    • swarming
    • disease
  • Easing old frames to edges for replacement
  • Varroa monitoring and treatment before first supers in place
  • Super in plenty of time early in the season
  • Don’s tips: Most Oil Seed Rape is progressing well. The bees are certainly bringing in copious amounts of much needed fresh pollen. Attention should be given to food reserves at this time when there is only a small amount of nectar coming in, so a half gallon of 2:1 sugar syrup may be needed prior to supering.
    Supersedure of queens often happens at this time of year. A single queen cell may be found, even though the brood pattern looks good, the bees seem to recognise a problem long before it is obvious to us. A word of warning is called for: if a “let the bees sort it out” policy is adopted things could fall apart – why? As yet there are no drones around, so any young queens will be unable to get mated and will then become ‘drone-layers’ and the stock will inevitably fail.
    What to do? Remove any supersedure queen cells until there are mature drones about. This will at least take one difficulty out of the equation and mark such problem stocks down for early re-queening.

May

  • Supering – add another when bees are on 75% of frames
  • Remove and extract rape honey as soon as ripe
  • Weekly inspections – Look closely for queen cells
  • Have equipment for artificial swarming ready
  • Monitoring Varroa

June

  • Beware of food shortage after taking honey
  • Monitor and treat for Varroa (non-chemical with supers on)
  • Full disease inspection
  • Weekly inspections – Look closely for queen cells
  • JOBS FOR THE MONTH – by Don Cooper 

    Oil Seed Rape honey should have been extracted by now, and wet supers returned to the hives – ideally in the evening to avoid getting the bees too excited and possibly start off robbing between hives.
    Swarm control measures should be in full swing until the end of July, although some years in the middle of July the bees give up on their efforts to swarm.

    It’s always a good plan to have a set of frames made up ready for that “unexpected” swarm that seem to catch many people out every year.
    Make sure there are adequate supers available should July prove to be a good honey flow period. Make a special effort to give all stocks a Brood Disease check at least three times each season.

    The National Bee Unit (NBU) sends out automated emails of disease outbreaks where any of your apiaries are at risk – but only if you have signed up to “Bee Base”. It’s free, so why not do it? I have, and one of my apiaries on the outskirts of Norwich is in such an area, so I shall be giving all my bees the once-over at my next inspection.

    Many stocks will go queenless for one reason or another. If you have no brood, sealed or unsealed, don’t just buy another queen to introduce. First, make an assessment: Are the bees “quiet”? Are there queen cells that have hatched or near to hatching? If so, there is probably a virgin queen present, and such a stock would just kill a newly introduced queen.

    Where there is doubt, if possible, always give a frame of unsealed brood from another stock and check 4 days later. If NO queen cells have been started on the face of the comb, there is probably a virgin queen present, close up and leave well alone for 3 to 4 weeks (this will vary depending on when a young queen hatched and the weather). If queen cells HAVE been built on the face of the comb then the stock is probably queenless and a new queen can be introduced, having removed all queen cells from the test frame. Follow the queen supplier’s instructions as to the introduction and follow-up inspections.

July

  • Still supering and extracting
  • Reduce entrances vs wasps and robbers

August

  • Finish honey removal
  • Full disease inspection
  • Varroa treatment – apiguard or similar
  • Clean supers for storage
  • Unite small colonies

September

  • Estimate stores and feed syrup for winter
  • Remove varroa treatments

October

  • Ensure ventilation
  • Check enough feed
  • Fit mouse guards and woodpecker nets
  • Sort and clean spare equipment for storage
  • Monitor varroa drop

November

  • Check entrances are clear
  • Sterilise and mend stored equipment

December

  • Check hive entrances clear/predator damage
  • Oxalic/lactic acid treatment for Varroa