We want to encourage new and new-ish beekeepers to come by and see how we do things with our hives. We will hold touring sessions at different times of the year, or contact us for a private showing.
What to expect with your Bees:The little ladies could be doing something different each week. It is important to become comfortable with looking at your hive and discovering for yourself their behaviors and Attitudes. Here are a few pointers to help you along your way.
January/February: Look out for the dandelions, these are the bees first food to feed their queen so she can pick up on laying eggs for the future field bees. Pick a warm, sunny date in late January to start looking into the hive to make sure you have a laying queen, capped brood, and enough food stores. Now is is also the time to think about where you want to keep your bees during the first honey flow. Blooming: red leaf maple, clover, camelias, dandelions.
March: Your hive population should really be picking up at this point. If your hive is overflowing with bees, time to think about making splits. You will need to decide to let them make their own queen(do you see enough drones in your hive?) or pre-order queens. End of march, early April you may see the nectar flow start. Your hives should be full of bees and have room to store all the nectar. If your hive is weak you will need to troubleshoot as to why they are weak. Blooming: Redbuds, Carolina jessamine, Cypress, apples
April: Swarming season begins. Keep an eye on the branches around your apiary, even your best efforts to deter swarming may not be enough. You want to avoid loosing that laying queen. Plan on having some nuc boxes ready and willing to take on that frisky swarm. There should be plenty for your bees to find for food right now, which if they are bringing in to much, they may fill where the queen needs to lay, making them more prone to swarm. Think about adding pollen traps if you so choose. Blooming: Many local flowers and trees, plant some August blooming flowers during the time.
May:Let's get some honey! We look into our hives on schedule during this time. Some every week, some every 10 days depending on sunny days. We want them to have plenty of room to store that nectar and pollen. We still have pollen traps on the hives to collect for our customers. Careful not to leave one on the same hive to long, we don't want that hive weakened because they do not have enough food. Blooming: some azeleas, herbs, hollies, clover, buckwheat can be blooming now.
June: Pull those frames that are 80-90%capped with wax. It is time to store them in a humidity controlled space until you are ready to extract the honey. Your hives should be strong enough to Resist pesky mites and Small hive beetles, but keep on the lookout and treat as necessary. if you happen upon a swarm, perhaps keep it in a nuc, it can be an emergency queen for you later on in the year if you need one. Blooming: Herbs, wildflowers,gallberry, hyssop
July: it is getting hot, Summer honey gathering should be going on, look for those capped off frames to store until you are ready to extract. Keep fresh water avialable for you girls. think about making splits, perhaps with new queens to help ensure she is laying and the new colony has time to grow before winter is at hand.make sure those pollen traps are off by now. Blooming: Clover, sage, mint, hyssop, daisies, passion flowers, wisteria, many wildflowers.
August: Not as much blooming right now and it is getting hot out. Expect your bees to be gathering on the outside of the hive in a lump trying to cool off. This is called bearding. You can loose hives this time of year due to starvation, Plan on feeding a 1:1 sugar ration, perhaps with extra Supplements for amino acids to help them along. Also that fresh clean water is a must. The pesky hive beetles will also be looking for food and your pollen filled frames are perfect. Inspect often and use your beetle traps consistently.Keep your hives in a sunny location to deter the hive beetles. try a mite roll or use a IPM mite board to check for mites. Oxalic acid is the newest treatment for mites that seems to be working great.
September/October: There is little for the bees to gather right now. Look at reducing your hive entrances to deter robbing. Your bees need to gather supplies for the winter and can not spare any to mites or beetles. When inspecting your hives, close them up quickly to lessen the smell of honey escaping as this will entice other hives to come and steal. If your hives look full, leave them bee. Making a new queen right now will take to long and she wont be able to lay enough to create a colony strong enough to make the winter. There are also very few drones available for mating. If you need a queen, you will need to order one if you did not have a spare on hand. If it is going to be a cooler night, expect the colony to kick all those drones out, so you may see some new activity on the front porches of your hives. They will replace those drones in the spring when maples start to bloom. Your bees may be gathering goldenrod nectar for honey, it is good for them to eat during the winter, but can have a foul smell or taste for us. Depending on the temperatures, middle to end of october will be the end of our interior hive inspections for the year. We place pollen feed patties in the hives and keep external feeders full with 2:1 ratio. Blooming: Goldenrod, herbs, swamp flowers, asters.
November/ December:Bees should be in a ball around the queen who is not laying at this time. Days over 50 degrees you may see them taking a cleansing flight. This is the time to prepare new woodenware for the spring, order supplies, finish processing your stored,capped frames, and planning on planting plants that will blood when you saw your bees looking for food. read some Bee journals, books, and websites. Enjoy the company of other beekeepers at your local association. We belong to CABA or Charleston Area Beekeepers Association that meets monthly through the year.
Here is a link to our local club: