When starting out in beekeeping it is hard to know what you need to check for during the changing seasons. A new beekeeper might wonder what, and when to check for certain things, as well as how they can be done. Well no need to worry as we have a seasonal hive checklist for you.
Spring is one of the most important times for beekeeping. This is when the bees come out and get to work. When Spring comes, it’s most likely that the bees have already eaten through their winter food storage. So feeding bees is crucial during this time. Also, they may be a little extra “hangry”, so be sure to give them some extra smoke.
Checklist for Spring
- Check to see if bees are alive and well
- Feed the bees with Liquid Feed, Dry Feed, and/or Pollen Patties
- Look for brood laying patterns
- If needed, replace the queen
- Look for mites and hive beetles
- Look for any abnormalities within the hive
- Look for swarm signs
- Add honey supers if boxes/frames are 75% full
Checking hives in the summertime is a little different than Spring. Throughout the summer, regularly check for honey flow, brood growth, and to make sure the bees have plenty of room to store honey.
You’ll want to make sure that your bees are producing honey. If the boxes/frames are around 75% full of honey or have no more room, add a new combo box (box with frames and foundations). If they are still slow to produce honey, that’s okay.
When checking hives in the Summer, we recommend inspecting every other week, as much can change in a short amount of time.
Checklist for the Summer
- Look for brood, and queen cells
- Look for signs of swarming (queen cells, bee population is high, and brood frames are full of resources)
- Make sure feeders are full
- Locate eggs, and honey
- Add boxes if honey supers are 75% full
Inspecting hives and keeping up with Fall management is important. This is the time that the hive is trying to prepare for winter. You’ll want to insure that the two deep hive boxes are full of honey in preparation for Winter. Feeding the bees with Liquid Feed and Pollen Patties through the end of November will help preserve their honey stores for the upcoming season.
Checklist for Fall
- Check for brood, and make sure that the population is building up
- Make sure the hive doesn’t have any diseases
- Check for honey storage
- Make entrance smaller (use our entrance reducer it has options for entrance sizes)
- Keep feeding until the end of November
Checking hives in the Winter time should be limited, and only when daytime temperatures are above 55 degrees F. Checking about once a month is recommended. With these hive checks, you'll just be making sure that they are alive, and not starving. Bee death will happen so don’t be alarmed if you see some dead bees in front of the hive.
Checklist for Winter
- Look for dead bees on the ground
- Take a quick look under the top (do not let all the warm air out)
- Make sure there's not too much moisture or water in the hive
- Put pollen patties in the hive if necessary for some extra food
- Make sure the area around the hive is cleared of snow and drifts.