Northern Basics

Northern Beekeepers Calendar

•January – Buy your bees (Nucs / Packages)

•February – Go cross country skiing (Not much to do) – Read a beekeeping book

•March – Build/assemble/maintain your beekeeping equipment / Check store levels during warmer >+5C day - Candy Board

•April – 1st Hive Inspection on warm day +14C (Spring clean-up/consolidate hive/count frames of bees/feed pollen supplement)

•May – 2nd Hive Inspection to assess growth rate / start 1:1 sugar syrup feeding (pollen supplement if required) / Install Nuc or package into new hive

•June – 3rd & 4th Assess growth rate of hive (re-queen if necessary); be on the look out for signs of swarming / Add your second brood box on your new hive @ 7-8 frames of bees / Treat for mites as required

•July – Prepare for main nectar flow – look for white wax accumulation on top bars; add you honey supers

•August – Harvest honey supers and start winter preparation (measure hive weight, look for dark honey frames and remove/extract) - Feed 2:1 syrup from late August and pollen supplements

•September – Continue winter preparations (Install Sugar Candy and Moisture quilt)

•October – Wrap/Insulate and move your hive for winter once temperature are consistently below zero (easier as the bees won't be very active

•November – Review your past beekeeping season (learnings, improvements, plans)

•December – Dream about spring and start looking at bee suppliers if you are looking at buying new bees

Critical Success Factors to Winter Survival: (See Fall and Winter Management page for more details)

  • Numerous healthy bees (mite free, fat bees).
  • Replace 2 frames per brood box per year (4-5 year cycle) to control risk of brood diseases and Nosema spores
  • Adequate stores (No Dark Honey - Honeydew sourced) (Optional: Honey B Healthy or similar can be used to provide additional benefits) - Reference Article (Honey Bee Suites)
  • Genetically appropriate queen (slows laying during fall (late August/early September) and completely stops during October. Re-starts laying late March/April). Appropriate clustering behaviour. Winter stores consumption efficiency.
  • Beekeeper must provide winterized hive with adequate ventilation and insulation to moderate stores consumption.

Example of a 4 hive wrap

Typical Styrofoam winter setup for single hives

(optional: bubble wrap foil can be put on the inside against hive to provide additional protection)