The Bees Are... To Do List
January - February (Is my hive alive) The bees have been dormant and it is time to see if/how they are surviving the winter. Note: Pick a day that is dry, sunny, not windy and +50 degrees. Note due to colder temperatures this is intended to be a quick/brief examination.
  • Quick peek inside hive in the early spring to check on hive. Make sure they survived the winter and find the queen and/or signs the queen is laying (eggs or larvae)
  • Check honey and pollen storages to ensure they have enough honey and pollen to get to the spring.
    • If not adequate feed them dry sugar and/or pollen or pollen substitute (brewers yeast, etc)
  • Check for Adult paralysis symptoms and if so plan to use  nosema treatment fumigilin in spring syrup
March - April (Building the colony up)














The bees become active in spring. If the colony survived the winter, their honey stores may be low. Hives may swarm in later spring.

Goal: bring them to high population without swarming so they start to peak at a time of the main honey flow but not before. Typically this is between mid-May to mid-June in the Willamette Valley)



  • Make sure colony is "queen right" meaning she is laying eggs if needed replace the queen with purchased one
  • Stimulate development with pollen patties and syrup feeding
  • Medicate (4 weeks before flow) - Fumagilin, Tylan, Honey B Healthy and Api Life Var.
    • Natural Alternatives - drone brood removal & powder sugaring bees
  • Total hours spent on beekeeping: 2-3 per week (for 1 - 10 hives). Checking the hives every 8 to 12 days.
May (Larger Workforce) The bees are beginning to gather nectar and building up honey stores as their population increases in the hive. They are in the final stages of preparing for the honey flow.
  • Reverse hive bodies, only if necessary.
  • If you predict a plentiful harvest, add 1-2 supers as the weather warms up, add with or without a queen excluder.
    • If unusual circumstances occur, later look at 1st blooms, resulting in an early spring. If this is the case you will want to put on an early honey super.
    • Watch for swarming by checking to see if there are swarm cells. These are in the lower third of the frames. The occasional one isn't cause for concern however always cut them out, but when you start seeing several (8+) it is fairly certain the hive is preparing to swarm.
      • Take away brood (switch frames) to weaken/slow down the colony
      • Switch location - by physically moving boxes. (i.e. if the population on one hive is growing too fast)

o   Give more room

June - Early/Mid-August (Honey Flow) Honey Flow season. The hive is buzzing with life. It will reach peak population during this time. The honey flow will continue as long as the blooms last.If you see a curtain of bees on the outside, bottom of the hive this is normal as they are either cooling themselves or the hive off.
  • Continue to add "honey supers" to strong hives for eventual honey harvest beginning in late May or Early June (depending on the amount of good weather and the level at which the colony has grown
  • Inspect brood area until supers are filling to check for expansion and swarming
  • If production of honey is steady and plentiful, adding more supers may need to be done. In a peak year with a strong hive you may need 3 to 4 western supers per hive.
  • At the end of the season (honey flow) you should harvest surplus honey! You can start this mid-July and complete by Early August
  • Total hours spent on beekeeping: 6-8 per week (including harvest).

Early/Mid August through October (Preparing for Dormant Season) Completing preparations of ripening the incoming nectar and fall preparations for overwintering. Time for the beekeeper  to finish harvest and perform mite/disease treatments
  • Early/Mid August remove all "honey supers" using bee escapes or "honey robber"  products.
  • Be on the lookout for "honey robbers"(aka other bees, wasps, skunks etc) toward the end of the season. Use entrance reducers to minimize likelihood of robbers.
  • Inspect bees and look for eggs, not larvae. Eggs mean the queen was present within last 3 days.
  • Ensure the top brood boxes are full of honey, you want about  50 - 80 lbs, to hold the bees over during the winter. If you have less, feed sugar syrup (60 % sugar / 40% water) beginning late Aug-early Sept. An average deep 9 1/8 frame that is full holds 7-10 lbs of honey.
  • Start mite treatment as early as possible and immediately after honey harvesting.
  • Feed and medicate (2-1 sugar syrup with Fumagilin) until they stop or the temperature drops and they form a cluster.
    • Natural Alternatives - Essential Oil Patty.
    • Add an inner cover to the hive to increase ventilation.
    • Total hours spent on beekeeping: 3-5 per week.
November through  January (Dormant Season) Bees will form a cluster within the hive to keep warm. Drones will be kicked out of hive. Bees may take cleansing flights if temperatures reach 45-50°. Bees will be relying on their honey stores to feed on until spring arrives and foraging resumes.
  • Monitor entrance to keep clean by brushing away snow or dead bees.
  • Make sure there is still plenty of honey. If not, you may need to emergency feed by using dry sugar or candy (fondant or peppermint cane). Once you start doing this, you can't stop until the temperature goes back up and they are able to take flights for nectar.
  • Further reduce the entrance reducer so that the smaller hole is being used and add a quilt box (super filled with rags/ towels and topped with a screen/ excluder) or absorbent layer above the hive to soak up condensation or moisture.
  • Clean, repair, store and order equipment for the next season.
  • Total hours spent on beekeeping: 1-2 per week