Here are the notes I give beginners in Florida regarding the steps each beekeeper must take to maintain healthy hives. This information can be applied to other areas of the country as well, just adjust the dates accordingly for your local conditions.
First Inspection of the Season:
Do not walk across the bees flight path.
Approach the apiary from the back or side of the hives.
Visually observe the flight activity to identify live or dead
over-wintered hives. Remove protective winter wrap and
verify dead or alive hive by seeing live bees.
Check for food stores; if needed use the clean honey
frames from the non-diseased dead hives and if not
available feed sugar syrup. Scrape bottom board &
remove the first brood super.
Inspect each super, saving empty clean combs and bad
frames culled for wax rendering. Store the clean scraped
equipment on the hive stand; culled supers with bad combs
returned to the honey house for wax rendering, sterilizing
in lye bath during the season for additional winter re-work
for use the next season.
Inspect the living over-wintered hives. During
this inspection, identification of worker bees, queens,
drones, eggs, larva (brood), honey, pollen and condition of
the frames, hive strength, number of frames of brood is
determined. Identify strong/weak hives to equalize
colony strength, colonies to split, colonies needing a new
queen and diseased AFB hives.
Install packages bees, on the dead site equipment. Make
Install additional packages and queens into splits and
divides. Check all hives for swarm cells. If swarm cells are
present split the hive. Add a honey super on each hive a
honey flow is on. Check each hive for swarm cells, you do
not want any swarms. Swarming depletes the old hive of
workers who produce a honey crop. Swarms petrify
neighbors in the area and create trouble for Beekeepers in
Repeat swarm cell check, check for the need of honey
supers and look in trees for hanging swarms. A lack
of hive activity warrants a hive inspection, open swarm
cells indicating virgin queens in the hive. A GOOD
TIME FOR MAKING NUCS TO PREVENT AFTER
SWARMS. ADD MORE HONEY SUPERS.
The swarming season should be over. Remove full honey
supers to be extracted and add empty honey supers to the
hives. The honey supers should be covered to prevent
robbing and move them to the honey house. Demo how to
extract the honey supers.
The season is at its peak. You are beginning to function as
beekeepers. The hives are bulging with honey and bees.
Splits and divides are hives no longer 4 frame nucs. It is
time to do something with them. Consolidate or save for
requeening in September. This decision depends on apiary
status. Visually check each hive for activity.
Strip the hives of all honey supers but leave one full honey
super on each hive. Cover your honey supers and get
them away to the honey house; otherwise you will create a
robbing situation that you donít want to experience.
Powdered sugar treatment for every hive for varroa mites.
Formic acid Mite-Away pad treatment will be applied if
necessary. August is the transitional change of brood by
the queen from the summer bee to the winter bee that will
survive and face the rigors of winter to keep the hive alive
for the next season.
Requeen only the over wintered hive with the splits and
divides made during the season. Remove any medication
from all hives before requeening. All hives are to be
established to the basic 4 super winter hive arrangement,
not counting the requeening super. Basic 4 super winter
hive consists of brood supers and 2 honey supers
requeening super is in between. Honey is stored in the
honey house. I repeat, honey supers are to be covered
while in use to prevent a robbing situation. Any left over
splits or divides are to be combined into basic winter hives.
Note: Install your entrance reducer on each hive to keep
out mice. Feed sugar syrup to the hives to provide
adequate over wintering food supply.
Remove all requeening supers from hives and put on top of
each hive on the inner cover. Inner cover should be in the
winter position. Begin to winter wrap the hives with 20
pound roofing paper, secure the paper with baling twine,
secure with slats, staple roofing paper, whatever mode. Tilt
hive from rear with shims for water drainage, entrance
reducer in place, use bales of hay for a wind break if
needed. Requeening supers on top of hives will be
removed by Dec 1. All hives should be winterized (roofing
paper wrapped) in areas of the state that receive frost.
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