Bees stayed clustered to keep warm during the month of January. Queens may lay a few eggs that the brood will keep warm. On warmer days, usually around 50°F or above, bees may try to briefly leave the hive for cleansing flights. The dead bees that have accumulated on the floor of the hive will also be removed, a good sign that the hive is still functioning.
When inspecting the hive during the winter, keep it brief. Only open the hive on warmer days to check food stores. Winter patties or sugar boards may be added at this time as needed. Do not break the brood cluster. Oxalic acid vapor is continued every 4-5 weeks on days above 50°F. Remove ice or other obstructions from the entrance.
The cluster has likely moved to the top box of the hive. The queen continues to lays small amounts of eggs. Cleansing flights continue on warm days. As food stores are depleted, the risk of starvation increases. Monitor carefully adding sugar, winter patties, or fondant.
Continue with oxalic acid treatment. In late February, begin feeding pollen substitute and stimulus feeding syrup. Monitor entrances and keep them clean of debris.
The queen begins to lay or is already laying at full capacity if pollen and protein are available. Some pollen may be coming into the hive with bees as they start foraging flights. Nutritional needs are very high, as is the risk of starvation. Continue to feed as needed.
Continue to treat for mites with oxalic acid or Mite-Away Strips, depending on temperature. Monitor closely as early spring swarms are possible.
Weekly inspections should begin in April. Monitor closely for queen cups and drone brood. Swarms in April are frequent. Shuffle frames of bees and brood up and empty frames down. Place empty, drawn comb in the middle of the brood nest, followed by eggs, larva, and finally capped brood on the outside. As brood hatches, repeat the process.
This is a good time to set out swarm traps with bait. Nucs can also be started depending on the health and strength of the colony. Feed ratios are 1:1 to promote drawing comb.
Weak colonies should be catching up to stronger colonies at this time. Swarms can continue through the duration of the summer. Add deep brood boxes and honey supers each time a box hits 70% capacity. When in doubt, add a box. Weekly inspections should continue to monitor for overcrowding and queen cups.
Oxalic acid mite treatment can continue every other month. Mite-Away Strips can also be used begore temperatures get too high.
June and July are the months when the hive is at maximum capacity. Most hives see a population from 40,000-60,000 but can go even higher. June is also the start of light honey season! As honey is being capped, frames can be removed for extraction. Weekly inspections are important to monitor for signs of swarming as well as adding honey supers.
Many plants are still blooming and providing lots of pollen and nectar for bees. Monitor brood boxes and supers for room with weekly inspections. Heat can become an issue in July. Insulation can be placed on hives to decrease exposure to sun. Bees can become aggressive in the summer heat and sometimes trickier to work with.
Heat in August can continue to be an issue. Hives can be aggressive on hot days and inspections should be done early. Ensure there is plenty of space and avoid overcrowding. Goldenrod flow will begin along with dark honey season. Robbing from yellow jackets can be an issue. Protecting hive entrances may be necessary.
Winter prep begins in September. All honey supers should be removed by the end of the month. Weak colonies may need to be fed to prep for winter. Feed ratios 2:1 to encourage storage. Check queen health and replace failing or questionable queens. Robbing continues to be a risk.
Mite-Away Strips should be added to treat for mites going into the fall.
Bees are now consuming more than they are bringing in. Continue to feed 2:1 ratio for as long as the bees will take it. Going into winter aim to have 14 frames of honey to support the colony. Hives that do not have enough stores will need to be closely monitored and likely fed during the winter. Insulation can be added to decrease stress and stores needed to keep the colony warm. Queens continue to lay but drastically slow down production. Drones are dying off and being removed from the hive.
Oxaclic acid treatment begins again every month.
Bees are clustering, little to no egg laying is occurring.
Oxalic acid treatment monthly. Monitor food stores.
In December, bees are fully clustered to stay warm. Little to no activity is occurring. Be careful not to disturb the cluster.
Oxalic acid treatment monthly for mites.