One of the joys of being a beekeeper is experiencing the change of seasons and watching how your bees respond to the change. Because bees need special care depending on the seasons, it's important to have a calendar so you know when you need to intervene so you have a healthy colony.
Many beekeeping calendars are written for those apiaries in the Northern Hemisphere, which will not help the many beekeepers in the southern half of the world. That's why it's important to follow an annual beekeeping calendar made for the Southern Hemisphere.
Your bees should be at the tail end of honey production at this time. In warmer climates, your bees may stop making honey. At this time, you can split your hive and move half the bees along with the queen to a new hive. If your climate is colder, add more supers now. Monitor your hive for mites. You can treat for mites as long as you don't have the supers installed.
It is time to harvest the honey. Check the pollen and honey stores to make sure that the bees have enough for the upcoming winter. If you have weak hives, combine them so they can be strong enough to thwart invaders and stronger hives looking to rob honey. You can place pans of sugar water with sticks floating in them to reduce the amount of honey thieving going on.
Remove supers if you have not already. Once the supers have been removed, you can treat the hive for mites. Add an entrance reducer to keep out yellow jackets. You may need to feed your hive if there aren't enough reserves.
You should be finishing any medicated treatments this month. Feed your hive if there aren't enough reserves. You'll need to winterize your hives if your weather gets cold early where you live. Start making your mead or honey wine and sell excess honey at farmer's markets.
If you live in a warmer climate, you'll need to winterize your hives now. Check entrance reducers to make sure they're in place, or if you haven't added them, do so now. At the same time, make sure there is adequate ventilation for the hive. Continue feeding the bees, especially if the colony doesn't have adequate reserves built up.
Other than ensuring there is adequate ventilation and the entrances are clear from snow and debris, you should just leave your bees alone. Order or build your new equipment. If you're going to be buying more bees, start researching where you'll place an order to ensure you get your bees by spring.
Your hives may seem inactive now, but the bees are huddling for warmth. If you live in a place that gets snow, you'll have to keep the hives clear so there is plenty of air and your bees can come and go as they need to. You may see cleansing flights on warmer days (temperature is above 4.4 Celsius), so be sure the entrance is clear of snow and ice.
Place your order for new bees now. Take a beekeeping class, join a beekeeping club, and read beekeeping literature. Order your equipment or build what you need. Enjoy your time off.
Wait for the temperature to go above 10 degrees Celsius before opening the hive to inspect it. When you do open the hive, check on the honey reserves. If they do not have enough honey, they will starve unless you intervene. Add candy board, honey, sugar candy, or dry sugar (if there is liquid water available). If the water around the hive is frozen, you may have to offer sugar water to your hive to get enough energy and hydration. Do what you have to do to ensure the bees will survive. If your climate is typically warmer, you can start testing and treating for mites.
Check the honey reserves again and add sugar, sugar water, candy board, sugar candy, or honey to provide enough nutrition so your bees won't starve. You can add a pollen substitute now. Test for mites and treat for them if you didn't treat them last month. Clean out the dead bees. You'll want to check the brood pattern and the capped broods. Now is the time to prevent swarms (you'll learn about how to in our beekeeping course.)
If the bees are still eating the sugar, continue feeding them. The bees should be bringing in pollen and the queen bee should be laying eggs. Check the brood pattern and the capped broods. If you live in a warm climate, you'll be seeing honey production. Add the supers if the bees are making honey.
This month you'll add your new bees. You'll need to feed them and the nucs until the brood chamber has drawn out combs. You'll be keeping an eye on the overall health of your bees now.
Apiaries in colder climates will start making honey. Add supers. Inspect the brood pattern. Reverse brood chambers. You'll need to check on the queen bee and look for any queen cells as well. Reverse the boxes. You may have to move frames around to aid in proper comb production. Continue to feed your new bees and nucs until the brood chamber has drawn out combs.
Prevent swarms. Add more supers, as needed. Check on the queen. Remove entrance reducer to ensure good airflow during these hotter months.