This outline is full of tips and not hard fast rules. In general if you follow these guidelines your hive should survive and thrive. I suggest checking for Varroa during the spring, after extraction and in the fall and winter. The months that are highlighted are the ones that I suggest checking and treating for mites if necessary. This outline also starts in March because March is really the beginning of the year for the Texas beekeeper.
Click here to see some of the the most important tips about keeping a hive healthy that are mostly independent of the year.
Spring Management March 1. As the weather warms up, empty frames of comb that were formally full of food can be rotated in between the frames of brood. This forces the queen to lay in the comb, expanding the brood nest. Be careful! Do not rotate too many frames into the brood circle as it could cause the brood to chill. In cold weather bees cannot even move one frame over to retrieve the life saving honey. 2. Hives may have depleted a large amount of their stores by April, if so, feed sugar syrup and consider feeding pollen substitute if they are not bringing in pollen. Hives will decrease their brood production if they do not have excesses of food. 3. March is a great time to split hives, as they will have enough time to grow to be able produce honey. Splits will need to be heavily fed. 4. Check your Varroa population and treat accordingly. If your hive mite count on a sugar roll that is 2-3. I would suggest treating as the mite population will continue to grow and, you do not want to have to treat your hive during the honey flow. March is great month to requeen.
April 1.April is the start of the honey flow! Continue to feed splits till they are 80% full. 2. DO NOT feed hives with honey super on, as it will produce sugar syrup honey. 3. If you were late on your mite treatment, read the instructions before treating for mites; you do not want to contaminate your honey. 4. Add a honey super when the one below it is 70-80% full. Hives will decrease their nectar intake if they sense that they will run out of room. 5. Nucs can be made up in April. This is also a great month to split full hives. 6. Watch out for swarms!! When a hive is 70% full add another box to help prevent swarming. 7. Do not add a box of foundation on over a queen excluder unless there is all ready a super with drawn comb on top. Bees do not like to draw comb through a queen excluder. 8. If you have an old queen, you may want to requeen so your hive will have a strong queen going into the honey flow. You do not want your queen to fail during honey production. May 1. Disturb the brood nest as little as possible as it will decrease your honey production, but don’t neglect your bees!! Check the brood nest at least once during May. 2. Continue to feed small splits if they will take syrup. It will help them grow much more quickly. Summer Management June 1. The honey flow will start to slow down near the end of June to the middle of July. Harvest honey when it is 70-80% capped, or do the shake test. Shake each frame, if more than a few drops of honey fall out of the frame it is still to wet. 2. After Extraction let the bees clean the honey off the Supers before storing them. Don’t let your bees Starve! Leave all the honey in the brood nest for the hive. After extraction feed your hive if they have less than 4 frames of honey. July 1. Make sure hives have plenty of water and ventilation. 2. Check for Mites!! Mites population will begin to double each month!! In Texas fall flowers usually don’t make very great tasting honey, make sure you have removed your honey by the end of July to avoid contamination. 3. Nucs can be made in July. Use at least 3 frames of brood and 2 frames of honey/pollen. August 1. Make sure your queens is laying strong hives need a strong queen going into winter. 2. August is the time to treat for varroa. You need strong healthy brood to going into winter. Examine hives for varroa using either sticky boards, powdered sugar roll, or checking for mites on drone larvae. 3. Feed your hive if it has less than 7 frames of honey. Your hive should have at least 60 pounds of honey going into winter.
Fall Management September 1. Combine hives that have less than 3 frames of bees. Weak hives can be combined with strong hives. Examine hives carefully in September. Failing queens can be replaced now. 2. As in previous months continue to supply water and treat for fire ants. Continue to feed colonies or nucs if necessary. October 1. Remove queen excluders so bees can cluster as temperatures drop. 2. This is also a great time to put entrance reducers on your hives. 3. Tilt hives slightly forward so rains will run out of the hives. 4. Don’t forget to check stored supers to assure that moth crystals have not evaporated. November 1. If you haven’t installed entrance reducers yet do so now. 2. Remove any queen excluders. 3. Use two deep boxes or a deep and medium super to overwinter. Don’t give your hive to much room or they will have trouble maintaining their temperature. 4. Place windbreaks at the base of the hive if you are using screened bottom boards. You do not need to remove the screen bottom boards. 5. Treat for mites if necessary. If you use a fumigating product, slide a pan or piece of plywood under the screen bottom board to seal off the screen during the treatment. Follow directions printed on the product package. 6. Check honey stores and make sure the bees have a minimum of 3 full frames of honey in the brood box. Try to check for adequate food supply at least once a month. Lift the back of the hive. If it feels light, feed sugar syrup or high fructose corn syrup. 7. If a hive has any empty frames move to the outside walls. When the temperature falls below 57 F, the bees will begin to cluster in the center of the hive to stay warm. Thus, honey that is near the outside wall is unlikely to be used by the bees in cold weather
Winter Management December-February 1. Check hives at least once a month for food stores. Feeding pollen will help them begin to build up for spring. 2. Order Nucs and queens as they usually sell out early. 3. Now is the time to treat with Oxalic Acid, as hives will not have very much brood. February 1. Feed pollen to help hives build up for early splitting. 2. If you have not treated for Varroa do so now. 3. Remove entrance reducers near the end of the month if the weather warms and bee activity indicates congestion at the hive entrance. 4. Don't let your bees starve. If your hive has less than 20 pounds of honey, feed sugar syrup.
5. We occasionally get really cold weather in February. Don't add supers or break up the brood nest.