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The Beekeepers Calendar

Keep in mind that the weather, climate, neighborhood and even the type of bees will dictate what you should be doing. This list is only an overview of what’s happening each month in the hive. There are also suggested tasks for the beekeeper,  and a rough estimate of the amount of time you might spend with your bees during a given month. Remember this is only a general guide.


The Bees: The queen is surrounded by thousand of her workers. She is in the midst of their winter cluster. There is little activity except on a warm day (about 45-50 degrees) when the workers will take the opportunity to make cleansing flights. There are no drones in the hive, but some worker brood will begin to appear in the hive. The bees will consume about 25 pounds of stored honey this month.
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. This is a great time to catch up on your reading about bees, attend bee club meetings, and build and repair equipment for next season. Order package bees (if needed) from a reputable supplier.
Time Spent: Estimate less than an hour.


The Bees: The queen, still cozy in the cluster, will begin to lay a few more eggs each day. It is still “females only” in the hive. Workers will take cleansing flights on mild days. The bees will consume about 25 pounds of honey this month.
The Beekeeper: There is not too much to do this month. Attend  bee club meetings/workshops, read and ready your equipment  for spring.
Time Spent: Estimate less than one hour.


The Bees: This is the month when colonies can die of starvation. However, if you fed them plenty of sugar syrup in the autumn this should not happen. With the days growing longer, the queen steadily increases her rate of egg laying. More brood means more food consumed.  The bees will continue to consume honey stores.
The Beekeeper: Early in the month, on a nice mild day, and 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. Just have a look-see under the cover. If you do not see any sealed honey in the top frames, you may need to begin some emergency feeding. But remember, once you start, you should not stop until they are bringing in their own food supplies.  If you are planning on getting swarms have enough equipment on hand and ready to go.
Time Spent: Estimate 2 hours this month.


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 appear.
The Beekeeper: On a warm and still day do your first comprehensive inspection. Can you find evidence of the queen? Are there plenty of eggs and brood? Is there a nice pattern to her egg laying? Later in the month, on a very mild and windless day, you should consider reversing the hive deeps. This will allow for a better distribution of brood, and stimulate the growth of the colony. You can begin to feed the hive .
Time Spent: Estimate 3 hours.


The Bees: Now the activity really starts hopping. The nectar and pollen should begin to come into the hive thick and fast. The queen will be reaching her greatest rate of egg laying. The hive should be bursting with activity.
The Beekeeper: Add a queen excluder, and place honey supers on top of the top deep. Watch out for swarming. Inspect the hive weekly. Attend bee club meetings and workshops.
Time Spent: Estimate 4-5 hours this month.


The Bees: Unswarmed colonies will be boiling with bees. The queen’s rate of egg laying may drop a bit this month. The main honey flow should happen 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. Attend bee club meetings and workshops.
Time Spent: Estimate 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.
The Beekeeper: Continue inspections to assure the health of your colony. Add more honey supers if needed. Keep your fingers crossed in anticipation of a great honey harvest.
Time Spent: Estimate 2-3 hours.


The Bees: The colony’s growth is diminishing. Drones are still around, but outside activity begins to slow down as the nectar flow slows.
The Beekeeper: No more chance of swarming. Watch for honey robbing by wasps or other bees. There is not too much for you to do this month. Have a little holiday.
Time Spent: Estimate about an hour or two.


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: Harvest your honey crop. Remember to leave the colony with at least 60 pounds of honey for winter. Check for the queen’s presence.  Continue feeding until the bees will take no more syrup.
Time Spent: Estimate 2-3 hours.


The Bees: Not much activity from the bees. They are hunkering’ down for the winter.
The Beekeeper: Watch out for robbing. Install inner cover wedges for ventilation. Install mouse guard at entrance of hive. Place insulite boards under hive cover to help keep colony dry. Setup a wind break if necessary. Finish winter feeding.
Time Spent: Estimate 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.
Time Spent: About one 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 the holidays!
Time Spent: None

Sources: Back Yard Beekeepers Association in Southwestern Connecticut