Beekeeper’s Yearly Management Calendar
This calendar was written for use in western North Carolina and the mountains/foothills of South Carolina. It is based on a calendar written by Mr. Paul Brown who was a “Beekeeper of the Year” for both North and South Carolina and an avid honey producer. His production goal was to average 200 pounds of honey per hive. The original calendar was published in 1998. There are general comments added for beginning beekeepers.
Since the calendar was published in 1998 many new treatments have been introduced into the market. Your treatment materials may be different from those listed below. The goal of this calendar is to provide a timeline for treatment and other activities in the apiary.
The description of all medications and treatments are general. Applications of all medications and treatment must be done as described on the label of the package you purchase.
The beekeeper’s year actually begins in August
The Bees – The colony’s growth is diminishing. On hot and humid days and nights, you may see a huge curtain of bees cooling themselves on the exterior of the hive.
August 20th through September 20th
- Re-queen all hives with a good quality queen.
- Take out Apistan® strips which were put in around July 1 – strips should remain in hives for approximately 56 days, but no more.
The Bees – The colony’s growth is still diminishing. Drones are still around, but outside activity begins to slow down as the nectar flow slows.
- Treat all hives with Tra-Kill® (Menthol) for Tracheal Mites. Split 2 ½ oz. package into two nylon screen packets (4″x5″) and place two packets per hive on the top of the frames.
September (after honey supers are removed)
- Medicate with Terramycin® to treat for American Foul Brood (AFB). Mix 1 lb. of TM-10 with 2 lb. of powdered sugar (or use Terra-Brood®, a ready mixed product). Apply two teaspoons per hive (three times, at three to four day intervals). Do not rely on grease patties to be effective against AFB (Although they may be a deterrent to tracheal mites).
September and October
- Combine weak hives. Use the newspaper method – make two or three slits in the paper and be sure to remove the weaker of the two queens.
The Bees – The drones may begin to disappear this month. The hive population is dropping. The queen’s egg laying is dramatically reduced.
- Reduce the hive entrance to 3/8″ to prevent mice from getting into the hive.Octob15th (after the first frost)
- Medicate with Fumidil-B® for Nosema control. Mix two parts sugar to one part water for syrup, then mix level teaspoon of Fumidil-B® per gallon of water, or one 0.5 gram (500 mg) bottle of Fumidil-B® to 44 lbs. of granulated sugar with enough water to make six gallons of syrup. (Note spring treatment in March). Feed two gallons per hive.
The Bees – Not much activity from the bees. They are hunkering down for the winter. Many days you will see bees flying gathering nectar from fall blooming flowers.
November and December
- Make repairs on your equipment, assemble new equipment, and make some of those time-saver gadgets
- Ventilate the hives with a 1/8th-inch crack at the front of the inner cover to prevent condensation and mold.
The Bees – Even less activity this month. The cold weather will send them into a cluster. On a warm day (about 45-50 degrees), workers will take the opportunity to make cleansing flights and many also work fall blooming flowers like asters(if not killed by a hard freeze).
December to February
- Just after Christmas when the temperature is above 50 degrees, feed a pollen substitute – 1 to 1 ½ lbs. per hive. (Recipe: three-parts soybean meal, one-part dried brewers yeast, and one-part powdered milk).
The Bees – The queen is surrounded by thousands 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 honey.
January 15th to February 1st
- Population starts to increase as you continue feeding artificial pollen.
- Treat for Varroa mites – 2 Apistan® strips per hive body – remember to write down the date you put them in!
The Bees – This is the month when colonies can die of starvation. However, if you left sufficient winter honey stores or 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 drones begin to appear. The bees will continue to consume honey stores.
February 1st until sufficient nectar is available
- Check honey supply on each hive and feed with sugar syrup if hive has less than half a super of honey. (Recipe: ten pounds of cane sugar to one gallon of water). Suggest top feeders: either double chamber or pail feeder.
- Remind all area peach growers to use caution with pesticides, especially Pencap-M®, to avoid killing honeybees.
- Repeat treatment for foulbrood February 1-15 (see September). (Recipe: two- parts powdered sugar to one-part TM®. Use 2 tsp per hive (3 times, at 3-4 day intervals).
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 busy laying eggs, and the population is growing fast. The drones will begin to appear.
March 1-15th (Temperature above 60 degrees)
- Exchange brood boxes if two exist, or add second if only one exists. If you add a brood box, place it above existing brood box. (Some beekeepers may prefer one brood box only.)
- Check the brood comb and replace frames that have excessive drone
- Medicate with Fumidil-B® for Nosema control (mix as directed) one gallon unless bees need to be fed. (Be sure to remove at least two weeks before installing supers.)
- Place bait hives to catch new swarms. Bait hive should have one vial each of pheromone bee attractant and should be positioned 8-9 feet above ground level.
- Take out Apistan® strips – strips should be in hives approximately 56 days, but no more.
- Check for queen cells and cut them out. Repeat every ten days (about four times).
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.
- Install supers on all hives. On strong hives, install four supers if frames have drawn comb, or two supers if frames have foundation comb. Weak or medium hives should receive less supers accordingly. Periodic checks should be made during the honey flow to see if additional supers are needed.
The Bees – Unswarmed colonies will be boiling with bees. The queen’s rate of egg laying may drop a bit as you move into June. The main honey flow should happen this month.
- Harvest honey crop.
- Replace wet supers on hives for the bees to clean up – place one empty super (with no frames) between wet supers and hive.
- Sourwood season starts in the mountains!
The Bees – If the weather is good, some nectar 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.
Remove dry supers for storage. Supers should be stacked tightly with paradichlorobenzene crystals on a paper plate or piece of newspaper between each 5 supers. (Remember fumes from the moth crystals move down as they evaporate.) DO NOT USE COMMERCIAL MOTH BALLS! They are a different formula and are not approved for use on beekeeping equipment!
Treat for Varroa mites – 2 Apistan® strips per hive body – and remember to write down the date you put them in!
Good luck and have a great year!