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A Year of Beekeeping Tasks

There really isn't much time off when it comes to beekeeping! This list of monthly beekeeping tasks will help keep you on track and out of the panic zone.


Note: This guide is based on a Northern BC winter and exact timing of different events will vary based on your location. I recommend using this as a guide this year and noting when things actually happen in your location so that you can maintain your own beekeeping calendar in future years.


For a full ready-to-print version of the calendar, click on the link below. This calendar may be printed for personal use.


2023 Bee Calendar
.pdf
Download PDF • 8.94MB


If you'd rather skip the calendar, here's the list of monthly bee tasks that would be handy to add to your calendar of choice:


January

  • Check hives with a stethoscope, thermometer gun, or infrared camera

  • Pre-order nucs

  • Inventory and order additional equipment

  • Fix broken equipment

  • Learn something new to practice/implement next season


February

  • Build new equipment

  • Oxalic acid treatment before spring brood-up

  • Watch for cleansing flights on sunny afternoons

  • Plan your garden


March

  • Add fondant if you are worried about food stores

  • Add pollen for quick spring build-up

  • Watch for pollen pants on sunny afternoons as alder, willow, and crocuses start to bloom

  • Start to feed 1:1 late in the month to stimulate growth


April

  • Do first thorough inspections on hives (should see brood)

  • Scrape bottom boards and top boards if moldy

  • Remove leftover honey from the middle of the nest

  • Watch for orientation flights

  • Stop feeding when dandelions bloom


May

  • Split hives when the dandelions start to bloom (if you are aiming for growth)

  • Beware of the dearth that follows the dandelion flow; you may need to feed again if hives are light

  • Start to watch for swarm cells!




June

  • Do frequent inspections, watching for swarm cells

  • Make sure the queen always has space to lay

  • Have gear on hand for emergency splits or swarm catching

  • Add honey supers as peak flow begins (when clover blooms)

  • Invite a friend over! This is when your bees are happiest!



July

  • Relax! You survived swarm season!

  • Continue to add honey supers as needed

  • Continue with regular inspections

  • Replace old or failing queens

  • Allow supercedure for queen replacement and brood breaks

  • Troubleshoot if your hive is not productive



August

  • Pull honey in mid-August before the dearth begins

  • Set hives up for winter in one or two brood boxes

  • Don't expect any more comb building - remove blank frames

  • Test and treat for mites

  • Feed after removing honey and once dearth begins


September

  • Continue to feed 1:1 to boost population or 2:1 to increase food stores

  • Put on entrance reducers and tape up cracks to guard against wasps and robbing

  • Keep your yard free of attractants for wasps and bears (no spills, no frames laying around)

  • Do your final hive inspections of the year


October

  • Remove liquid feed once daytime highs are less than 10ºC (50ºF)

  • Add fondant or sugar board if you are worried about food stores

  • Treat with oxalic acid late in the month

  • Don't be alarmed if you are seeing a lot of dead bees out front - your summer bees are dying off

  • Wrap hives when daytime highs are consistently below 5ºC (40ºF)


November

  • Enjoy the sweet rewards of your labour!

  • Check on your hives after any major wind event

  • Make a wish list of gear for next season

  • Know that you've done everything you could to help your bees survive the coming winter

  • Cross your fingers and toes!



December

  • Gift your neighbours some honey to keep them loving the bees

  • Keep hive entrances clear of snow

  • Resist the urge to disturb your hive

  • Read a good bee book



And repeat!


We keep a running calendar of beekeeping tasks and events so that each year, we can compare the timing of each task to previous years. Setting up a similar calendar for yourself will help you fine-tune your beekeeping tasks so that you always know what to expect and you aren't faced with too many surprises.



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