Cart 0

Bee Keeper's Calendar

Keep in mind that the weather, climate, neighbourhood 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 bee keeper. Remember this is only a general guide. Our calendar is just a guide due to New Zealand changing weather conditions you may find timing is slightly out.

    January

    Any honey extracted after the 31December has to be tested for toxic honey for human consumption.

    If the weather is good, the nectar/honey flows this month. On hot and humid nights, you may see a huge curtain of bees cooling themselves on the exterior of the hive. (Bearding)

    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.

    You may still see the odd swarm floating around so still be vigilant.

    • Super up
    • Extract honey

    February

    You may find colony’s growth starting to diminish again with the NZ weather change this may not happen this early. Drones are still around, Slits are still on the cards to do. Nectar flow may start to decrease.

     Watch for honey robbing you may see your first WASPS. When  it comes to WASPS be proactive not reactive.

    • Test for Varroa mite levels and treat if necessary, especially if in acute phase.
    • Sugar shake (Page 149 of your Practical Bee Keeping book).
    • American foulbrood check it doesn't hurt to do it again. 
    • Harvest and extract honey before applying varroa treatments
    • Harvest and extract honey
    • Late summer queen rearing if drones are available  splitting to weather down your hives may be applicable.
    • Check for wasps

    March

    You may think about doing the sugar shake just out of interest. (page 149 of the Practical Bee Keeping book). If you have drones also think about using the capping scratcher and pricking a fee on each frame.

    You may be taking off the last of your honey, try using a bee escape makes life a lot easier.

    When  it comes to WASPS be proactive not reactive.

    Nows a good time to put in your Varroa treatment. (Bayvarol)

    The drones may begin to disappear this month. The hive population starts dropping as the queen’s egg laying reduces.

    Harvest your honey before adding your strips. Remember to leave the colony with at least 4 frames of honey per brood box for winter.

    Check for the queen’s presence.

    • Harvest and extract honey (We have jars in stock all different shapes and sizes plastic) 
    • 10 & 20 lit Buckets, honey gates and capping knives. 
    • Honey labels. Honey filters 
    • Keep an eye out for those first WASP'S start baiting and trapping
    • Sell or store honey crop
    • Return your honey supers for bees to clean up then think about storage for winter.
    • Remember ants and wax mouth when you put them into storage. Freeze box's or frames news paper between each box. 
    • We like to smear vaseline around the join of the box's (to stop ants etc).

    April

    You may be taking off the last of your honey, try using a bee escape makes life a lot easier.

    Bees are slowing up slightly but if we have a mild winter like last year they might cruise through it and come out the other side reasonable strong. But remember we only need a couple of wet or cold days for them to munch through their honey store so be vigilant over winter. 

    Wasps are now hitting us hard give us a call to discuss ways of stoping them.

    When  it comes to WASPS be proactive not reactive.

    Watch out for robbing. Install inner cover wedges for ventilation. Install mouse guard at entrance of hive. Setup a wind break if necessary.

    Just remember to tilt your hive slightly forward to allow rain drainage.

      • Remove Varroa treatment to the manufactures specifications
      • Prepare hives for wintering down:
      • Feed check - do the bees have enough stores to last throughout winter?
      • Remember to leave the colony with at least 4 frames of honey per brood box for winter
      • Check all brood frames for American Foulbrood
      • Scrape surplus wax from hive parts
      • Check bottom boards and fit entrance reducers
      • Replace any rotten or damaged hive parts
      • Control weeds
      • Check hives are protected from stock
      • Apply mouse bait if necessary

    May

    Even less activity this month. The cold weather will send them into a cluster.

      • Remove Varroa treatment products applied in March
      • Test Varroa mite levels and treat if necessary
      • Feed sugar syrup if necessary using a top or frame feeders.
      • Winter down hives
      • If your honey supers are still on take off and store.
      • Sort combs before storage
      • Freeze combs for wax moth control
      • Remember ants and wax mouth when you put them into storage. Freeze box's or frames news paper between each box. 
      • We like to smear vaseline around the join of the box's (to stop ants etc).

    June

    The bees are in a tight cluster. Try to keep out of your hive, if you do have to go in pick a 16 degree's day remembering wind chill.

    There’s not much you can do with the bees. Read a good book on beekeeping!

    • Render down wax
    • Make up new equipment for next season
    • Paint and clean up old box's 
    • Clean queen excluders (Hot water or a hair dryer is good) looking at stocking these LOL

    July

    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 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 may consume up to 10 kilograms of stored honey this month.

    The Bee Hive has a great supply of frame and top feeders. Think about feeding your bee's  

    Little work is required from you at the hives. If there is snow some parts of NZ, 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. 

    Nows the time to call into The Bee Hive and purchase frames, feeders, box's  in readiness for Spring.

    • Remove Varroa treatment products applied in May
    • Make up new equipment for replacement or increase in hives

    August

    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 may consume up to 10 kilograms of stored honey this month.

    There is not too much to do this month. Attend bee club meetings/workshops, read and ready your equipment for spring. With the New Zealand weather changes spring may come early. Keep an eye on your bee numbers swarming has occurred at the end of this month it only takes 16 days to produce a queen day 9 the queen cell will be capped and they are in swarm mode.

      • Prepare for new seasons work
      • Prepare queen raising equipment if you are going to raise your own
      • Prepare feeding equipment and supplies of sugar remember you can use white sugar as a crystal or syrup or raw sugar as a crystal or syrup DON"T USE BROWN as it will give your bees diarrhoea (it has molasses add to it)
      • Check grass spraying or cutting gear (using bee friendly sprays)
      • Assemble frames for new season and have wax or plastic foundation on hand
      • (Remember The Bee Hive students what we taught you on your course about swarming) 

    September

    Traditionally the 1st of September is the first day of Spring in New Zealand  but with changing weather conditions we have to watch this space.

    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.

    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.Apply Varroa treatment if surplus honey flow expected in next 8 weeksCheck all brood frames for American FoulbroodFeed sugar syrup if necessarySpray or cut vegetation around hivesStimulate hives for queen rearing

      • remember the incubation time for a queen. 
      • Hives can be split late in the month or when there are plenty of adult drones present
      • Unite any weak or queen-less hives, with stronger hives, especially if you prefer not to increase hive numbers
      • Prepare for queen-raising programme and think about add box's or doing splints on strong hives to alleviate swarming.
      • (Remember The Bee Hive students what we taught you on your course about swarming) 

    October

    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.

    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 brood boxes. This will allow for a better distribution of brood, and stimulate the growth of the colony. You can begin to feed the hive.

    It depends on what varroa treatment you are using  remember strips should be out before the flows starts check the packet of your treatment and count the weeks off.

      • Apply Varroa treatment if not already applied in September or hives are showing mite damage
      • Remove entrance guards
      • Feed sugar syrup if necessary
      • Check pollen stores and feed supplements if required (Pollen pate's)
      • Check all brood frames for American Foulbrood
      • remember the incubation time for a queen.
      • Control Swarms add box's or do splits (Remember The Bee Hive students what we taught you on your course about swarming)
      • Re-queen hives
      • Split hives 

    November

    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.

    (Remember The Bee Hive students what we taught you on your course about swarming) 

    Remember the incubation time for a queen. 

    Add  honey supers. Watch out for swarming. Inspect the hive weekly every seven days remember the incubation time for a queen. 

    • Remove Varroa treatment products applied in September
    • Check Varroa treatment products have worked, especially organic treatments
    • Feed sugar syrup if necessary
    • Pollen check
    • Check all brood frames for American Foulbrood
    • Rear and mate queens
    • Control Swarms
    • Super up hives
    • Requeen hives

    December

    Your AFB inspection should have been done and back to them by the first week of December. 

    Traditionally the honey flow starts in December over the last few years it has been earlier than December.

    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.

    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.

    •  Varroa treatment's need to be removed from the hive before any honey is taken off for human consumption.
    • Feed sugar syrup if necessary
    • Manipulate hives
    • Introduce nucleus hives
    • Check supers for wax moth if you have has become week for any reason.
    • Super up
    • Prepare  and get ready for first extraction.
    • Harvest and extract early crops

    IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTRIBUTE TO OUR CALENDAR PLEASE EMAIL US AT

    thebeehive@xtra.co.nz