Beekeeping Yearly Schedule for Florida
Here are the notes for 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 according to 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 hives by viewing the actual 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 the bottom board and remove the first brood super.
Inspect each super, save empty clean combs and cull bad frames for wax rendering. Store the clean scraped equipment on the hive stand; culled supers with bad combs get returned to the honey house for wax rendering and sterilizing in lye bath.
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 nucs.
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 general.
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 indicate virgin queens in the hive. A GOODTIME FOR MAKING NUCS TO PREVENT AFTERSWARMS. 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 moved to the honey house.
The season is at its peak. You are beginning to function as beekeepers. The hives are bulging with honey and bees. Splits and divides have grown to full sized hives, no longer 5 frame nucs. It is time to do something with them. Consolidate or save for re-queening in September. This decision depends on the apiary status. Visually check each hive for activity. Sept 9Strip 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 do not 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.
Re-queen only the over wintered hives with the splits and divides made during the season. Remove any medication from all hives before re-queening. All hives are to be established to the basic 4 super winter hive arrangement, not counting the re-queening super. Basic 4 super winter hive consists of brood supers and 2 honey supers. The re-queening 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 re-queening 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. Re-queening 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.