Posted on February 20, 2018.
Beekeeping is becoming an increasingly popular and eco-friendly hobby for countless Americans. In fact, the USDA reports that as of 2014, the number of colonies managed by human beekeepers was at the highest it has been in 20 years. But part of being a responsible beekeeper is taking good care of your bees, and it's important to know which specific beekeeping tasks need to be done at which times of year. Here's part one of our beekeeper's guide to seasonal beekeeping tasks, where we'll discuss essential tasks to complete during the winter and spring months.
Before winter hits, it's important to make sure your bees have all that they'll need to stay healthy throughout the season. This includes making sure all disease treatments have been completed. The hives should be fully sheltered from the wind. And of course, make sure to order any new bees or beekeeping equipment you'll need for next season, such as beekeeping gloves, beekeeping kits, and other beekeeping tools. Typically, the latest you can order these supplies in time for spring is between late February and early March.
Additionally, you should also monitor your hives consistently as winter hits. Check for any wind damage and ensure adequate food and ventilation. It's true that bees can tolerate cold temperatures; however, completely sealing the hives can cause excess condensation that can hurt the entire colony.
Spring is a time to be active in your beekeeping endeavors and get new bees and beekeeping kits. First, make sure you keep feeding the bees, as they will have consumed much of their honey stores over the winter. Next, position one or two empty hives just in case some of the bees swarm and look for new homes. Raw honey can be harvested from established hives, and hives should be inspected for a solid brood pattern. Replace your hive's queen, if necessary. Finally, make sure to level the hives' populations so that the number of bees in each hive is relatively consistent.
Ultimately, understanding these beekeeping tasks is essential to healthy and happy beekeeping. Keep an eye out for the next post, where we'll discuss the most essential beekeeping tasks for the summer and fall months.