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Beekeeper's Calendar

EDITOR'S NOTE:  The following guidelines are excerpts from "Seasonal Management" in the publication, "Beekeeping in Tennessee." 
Please see the complete publication in the links section for more detailed information.


January
Clean, paint and repair equipment.

Check the apiary for wind damage.

Check the apiary for skunk damage.

Feed a pollen substitute, if needed.

Check the honey stores and feed any colonies that have less than 15 pounds (six frames of capped honey in a shallow super or 2-3 frames in a deep super).

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February
Open colonies on a warm day and check for laying queen, brood and diseases.

Check amount of honey stores.

Feed all colonies with less than 15 pounds of honey.

Feed pollen substitute, if needed.

Unite weak or queenless colonies with another colony (bees should cover five or more frames).

Select the better of the two queens before uniting the two colonies. Remove one of the two queens before uniting.

Feed one gallon of a 2:1 sugar syrup containing one tsp. of Fumidol-B®.

Treat colonies with Apicure® (formic acid gel packs) for Varroa and tracheal mites.

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March
Check brood chambers. If all of the brood is in the upper part of the brood chamber, reverse the upper and lower brood chamber units. Reversing the chambers will cause the queen to use both units for egg laying.

In two weeks, the upper unit should be filled with brood. Reverse the units again.

Reverse the units every two weeks or as often as necessary until the honey flow begins.

Check the brood for diseases and mites each time you open the colony. Treat with Apistan® if damaging levels of Varroa are detected.

Feed the antibiotic terramycin to the colony during this heavy brood-rearing period. This may be done by either adding terramycin to a shortening/ sugar patty (see above) or by adding the antibiotic to powdered sugar. Use one ounce of this mixture, sprinkling it on the tops of the outside frames in each of the two brood chamber units.

If the powder method is used, repeat the use of the antibiotics at 4 to 5-day intervals until you have treated a colony three times.

Check the honey stores. Feed all colonies that have less than 15 pounds of honey stores.

Feed a pollen substitute, if needed.

Prepare supers with foundation in a warm room and store under fumigation (para-di-chlorobenzene crystals).

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April
Strong colonies will consume large amounts of honey stores in April. If all reserves have been used up, the colonies will starve just prior to the honey flow.

Check stores and feed all colonies that have less than 15 pounds of honey.

Check brood chamber for diseases and mites.

Install package bees in April. Package bees will do well when installed on all new foundation in the hive. When drawn comb and two frames of brood are available, packages get off to a better start.

Add new foundation for drawing comb in upper hive body during a honey flow. Slatted bottom boards and entrance reducers also reduce degree of light and aid in producing better drawn comb.

Wings of the queen may be clipped to prevent her leaving the hives with swarms. Clipping also aids in identification in event of supersedure.

Colonies with prolific queens and ample food will be strong in population and may need room. Add a super of drawn comb to relieve crowding.

By April, you should have developed colony strength to 80,000 worker bees to produce a maximum honey crop.

Add supers for honey storage by April 15.

Check for the development of the swarming instinct. Raise the super just above the brood chamber and check for swarm cells along the bottom bars of the frames. If cells are present, all frames containing brood should be checked thoroughly for swarm cells. Remove all queen cells. Give additional room by adding one or two supers of drawn comb.

Top-ventilate the colony to prevent overheating the colony.

Recheck for swarm cells every seven days.

Feed package bees two gallons of a 2:1 sugar syrup containing one tsp. of Fumidol-B® per gallon.

Colonies that continue to build swarm cells should be divided to prevent swarming.

Colonies that develop a strong swarming impulse will swarm if you permit the cells to be capped before removing.

Prepare supers with foundation in a warm room and store under fumigation with para-di-chlorobenzene.

Prepare supers with cut comb foundation just prior to using them.

Store supers of prepared foundation in plastic bags to prevent drying out prior to use.

Remove entrance reducer from overwintered strong colonies by mid-April.

Remove entrance reducers from colonies installed in April by mid-June.

It is time to add another super when the honey super on a colony is one-half to two-thirds filled (6-7 frames).

Raise the partially filled super and place the empty super on top of the brood chamber. Place the partially filled super on top of the empty super.

Supers of cut comb honey foundation should be added on top of the honey super, which is on top of the brood chamber, to reduce the amount of pollen in the cut comb honey.

Continue to check for swarm cells every seven days. Remove all swarm cells from the colony.

Keep empty storage space in the supers on all colonies until the honey flow has ended.

Remove and extract capped supers from your colonies if you need additional supers.

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May
It is time to add another super when the honey super on a colony is one-half to two-thirds filled (6-7 frames).

Raise the partially filled super and place the empty super on top of the brood chamber. Place the partially filled super on top of the empty super.

Supers of cut comb honey foundation should be added on top of the honey super, which is on top of the brood chamber, to reduce the amount of pollen in the cut comb honey.

Continue to check for swarm cells every seven days. Remove all swarm cells from the colony.

Keep empty storage space in the supers on all colonies until the honey flow has ended.

Remove and extract capped supers from your colonies if you need additional supers.

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June
Swarms may be infested with tracheal mites.

Combine all swarms issuing after June 1 with weak colonies. Continue to check for swarm cells every seven days.

Continue to add supers of drawn comb as needed until the honey flow ends.

Remove the capped honey after June 15.

Uncapped honey can be removed two weeks after the honey flow ends.

Prepare to move your bees to the mountains or to lima bean-, soybean- and cotton-growing areas from the second honey flow if you want maximum production.

Store all supers of honey in a warm, 90 degrees F, dust-free, screened room.

Extract the honey as soon as possible.

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July
Have your bees in their new location by the first week of July.

Extract honey you removed in June to have the supers available for the sourwood honey flow.

Return extracted supers to the colonies just before dark to prevent robbing.

Fumigate all supers of extracted combs that will be off the colonies for more than four days.

Pack honey in a quality, attractive package - all new, clean glassware or plastic ware and lids.

Continue to check for swarms in mountain areas; combine swarms issuing after July 15 with weak colonies.

Check for Varroa mites.

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August
Check brood nest for diseases and mites.

If 10 Varroa mites are found per 100 pupae or six mites from ether roll (see Detection), apply Apistan® strips.

Check for swarm cells in mountain areas.

Remove surplus honey, leaving some space in supers for later summer and fall flow.

Treat colonies of honey bees with 1.6 ozs. of menthol crystals enclosed in a screen wire pouch to suppress tracheal mites. Treat when temperature is in the 70° F range.

Colonies will need 40-60 pounds of honey for overwintering.

Extract supers of honey removed from colonies.

Return extracted supers to colony for cleaning just before dark to prevent robbing by colonies.

Remove cleaned supers from colony, and store under para-di-chloro-benzene fumigation to prevent wax moth damage.

Requeen all colonies every year that you double crop. All colonies that you do not move with honey flows should be requeened every two years.

Before placing new caged queen in the colony, remove the old queen and all queen cells. Check the brood chamber and make sure you have two or more frames of sealed brood in the colony. Place the caged queen over the frames of brood.

Recheck the requeened colonies in 10 days for a laying queen. If eggs are present, do not disturb the colony.

Requeen colonies every other year unless they are used for double cropping on the valley and mountain honey flows.

Order your queens clipped and marked for easy location and identification. This can also aid in swarm prevention.

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September
Check colony for Varroa. If numerous (see Sensitivity of Method), apply Apistan® strips for mite control.

Treat colonies with Apicure® (formic acid gel packs) for Varroa and tracheal mites, if needed.

Requeen colonies that you did not requeen in August or that rejected the introduced queen in August.

Consolidate frames in supers that may have some empty space for storage of fall nectar flow. Fill supers with capped frames. Partially filled supers can be rearranged with empty frames in the center and the filled and capped frames on the outside.

Remove all empty supers and store under fumigation.

Replace all hive parts that need repairing or painting with reconditioned parts. Repair and painting can be done much more easily in the shop.

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October
Check colony for Varroa. If numerous (see Sensitivity of Method), apply Apistan® strips for mite control.

Place entrance reducers in the entrance.

Check each colony for a laying queen.

Treat with antibiotics every four to five days until three treatments are completed to prevent diseases (powder method).

Leave one shallow super completely full of honey plus the honey in the brood chambers.

Feed all colonies that do not have at least 40 pounds of honey stored. (A deep-brood frame holds 6 to 7 pounds of honey; a medium frame holds 4 ½ pounds; a shallow super frame holds 3 ½ pounds.)

Feed a mixture of 2 parts of sugar to 1 part water (measured by weight).

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November
Check colony for Varroa. If numerous (see Sensitivity of Method), apply Apistan® strips for mite control.

Rake all leaves and dead grass away from around the colony to prevent fire. Cut tall grass.

Feed Fumidol-B® to prevent Nosema disease.

Fence apiary to protect the colonies from livestock.

Check all tops to be sure they are waterproof.

Place a weight on the outer cover to prevent the wind from blowing the top off the hive.

Top ventilate all colonies. Cut two or three 5/8-inch slots out of the rim of the inner cover. Invert the inner cover and place the openings in the rim to the front of the hive. Place the outer cover over the inner cover, sliding the outer cover forward; and secure the cover in place with a weight on top of the cover.

Sample a colony for tracheal mites by collecting 100 bees in a jar containing alcohol. Forward to state bee inspector or UT Bee Disease Laboratory.

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December
Repair and paint equipment.

Apply Apistan® or CheckMite+™ strips, if not done in November, when temperatures are as warm as possible.

Clean supers, hive bodies, covers and frames of burr comb and propolis.

Cull combs. Cut all combs with more than 2 square inches of drone cells from the frames.

Render (if equipped) or pack all old comb or beeswax into a shipping container. Old comb or wax can be exchanged for foundation.

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