Seasonal Duties of the Beekeeper
Seasonal Duties of the (WI) Beekeeper
By Wayne Lemar (Revised 10/23/2014)
- Pick a mild day temperature wise and place a candy board on top of the frames if you feel the hive is low on food. The candy board should be warm. Do not put an ice cold candy board into the hive; a cold candy board could chill the cluster.
- This is a good month to repair stored equipment such as wooden ware, repair frames and install new foundation.
- It is time to think about ordering replacement bees, if you have lost any hives. Check your hives to determine how many hives to order. Place your order for packages or nucs; get an order in, you can always adjust the number later.
- At the same time, determine if additional candy boards are needed.
- This is the time to place a small substitute pollen patty on top of the cluster to stimulate the queen to start laying eggs. She needs to replace bees, which have died, with new bees.
- It is very common to lose a hive during March because the temperature warms up and the beekeeper assumes the hive will survive now. Actually there are now more bees and less food so the hive can very quickly die. So now start feeding a mix of 1:1 sugar syrup as soon as the temperature will allow.
- Continue to feed a pollen substitute patty and sugar syrup to the hive until the dandelions bloom.
- Check your hives to see that the queen is alive and laying.
- If you have lost one or more hives, now is the time to clean the hive and repair frames and replace frames or foundation.
- Check each hive for varroa mites. If there is a strong infestation of mites, treat during April.
- If a hive is queen less, the bees can be combined with a queen right hive or a queen can be ordered and introduced to the hive.
- On a warm day, inspect and clean survivor hives. Replace or repair frames and clean out dead bees between frames and on the bottom board of the screen. The workers will remove dead bees but give them some help and clean out as many as you can.
- Removing propolis from the frames and the top bar rest areas will make it easier to move frames when necessary.
- Late April; reverse the top and bottom brood boxes of survivor hives.
- Inspect brood pattern to determine if the queen is laying a tight pattern with few empty cells. If the pattern has many open cells without eggs or larvae you may have a poor laying queen. If you are unsure, ask someone with more experience to look at the brood pattern and advise you.
- Late April or May is when packages of new bees are installed. Have the hive ready before they arrive. Have a pollen patty and a syrup feeder ready and have sugar syrup (1-1) made up. If the hive has undrawn foundation, it is very important to keep syrup available to them until the foundation is drawn out. If you are unsure how to install a package, ask an experienced beekeeper to work with you.
- If you have hives that are drawing out comb in the brood boxes, continue to feed 1 to 1 syrup.
- Survivor hives may need a super if they are strong.
- Strong hives may be split. Ask for help if you are unsure how to split.
- Inspect hives that are weak. Look for a poor brood pattern and look for the queen. Some queens may need to be replaced. Look for supersedure queen cells which will replace the old queen.
- Be aware that strong hives may swarm. Splitting and or cutting queen cells may prevent swarming for a while.
- Add supers to strong hives that are bringing in nectar. Do not use a queen excluder until bees start putting nectar in the super.
- Add more supers as needed; do not miss the honey flow.
- Swarming may occur during June and July.
- If a natural source of water is not available for the bees, provide a source of water. The water is used to cool the hive.
- Continue to monitor the supers although the nectar flow will have slow down.
- During the hot days of July and August provide more ventilation for the hive by propping the lid up slightly.
- Supers that are capped may be extracted.
- Wet supers may be fed back to the bees by putting supers back on the hive.
- Does a mite count to determine if the hive will need a mite treatment after the supers are removed.
- Treat each hive with Terramycin treatment for American and European foulbrood.
- Feed each hive with heavy sugar syrup (2 sugar to 1 water) with Fumagilin-B to treat for Nosema.
- Check the weight of each top brood box to determine how much food the hive has. Each hive should have 50 to 60 pounds by November 1st. Continue to feed syrup as necessary.
- Treat for mites if necessary.
- Install the entrance reducer to keep out small rodents.
- Check for food. Continue to feed sugar syrup as necessary.
- Hives that are weak in number of bees and have little or no brood and little food should not be treated or fed. It is better to destroy the bees by brushing them into a pail of soapy water than to allow them to die in the hive.
- The top brood box should have a ¾ inch hole or other entrance near the top; snow may block the lower entrance. This hole is important to allow moisture to escape.
- Winterize the hive.
- Add moisture absorbing material above the top brood box, moisture board, shredded newspaper or straw.
- Wrap the hive with 15 pound roofing paper, insulating wrap or corrugated card board. Cut a hole in the wrap at the upper entrance.
- Insulation may be added under or on top of the cover.
- Several hives may be clustered together on a pallet for warmth.
- Read a beekeeping book.
- Enjoy the honey your bees produced.
- Build new or repair equipment.