A Year In The Apiary-Central Maine
Tony Jadczak, Maine State Apiarist
Assemble and repair beekeeping equipment. Purchase new equipment if necessary. Read beekeeping texts andperiodicals. Sign up for a beekeeping course offered by Extension, Adult Education or local beekeeping association.
Check colony conditions. If honey reserves are low, feed candy or dry sugar. Colonies that consume feed should be monitored and fed as needed. Feed protein supplements (pollen substitute) for brood production to hives with sufficient honey stores in mid-March.
Monitor food reserves. Feed medicated (Fumagilin-B) light syrup (1:1) to hives low on stores. Scrape bottom boards and check the brood pattern on a mild day. Install package bees April 15th or later and feed light syrup medicated with Fumagillin. Apply mite treatments to wintered colonies if Varroa are detected (mid-late April) in the drone brood. If you medicate hives with Terramycin, dust according to label instructions. Make plans for attending the MSBA Annual Meeting. Continue feeding nucs and package bees until they have drawn out the comb in their brood chambers.
Reverse brood chambers and inspect the brood pattern. Check the queen’s performance, symptoms of brood disease and Varroa at the beginning of dandelion bloom. Apply mite treatments and requeen failing queens if necessary. Divide and requeen colonies at fruit bloom via multiple frame splits or colony divides to recoup winter loss, increase apiary size and swarm control. Apply the 3rd Terramycin treatment according to label and treat for mites if detected on workers or in drone brood. Inspect package bee colonies for health and queen condition. Manipulate frames if necessary to aid in comb construction. Manage hives for population buildup and swarm prevention. Continue feeding nucs and package bees until they have drawn out the comb in their brood chambers.
Remove mite treatments and antibiotics (see labels). Add supers to hives as needed. Manage for swarm prevention via equalizing hives, making splits/ nucs or Demaree method. This is the time of year to register your bee hives.
Add supers as needed. Harvest honey at the end of July or when the honey flow slows. Place an empty super on hives that have honey in the 2nd brood chamber or above a queen excluder (inner cover) on hives that have mostly brood in both brood chambers. Colonies with excessive brood and large adult bee populations should be left with a super full of honey at harvest time. Monitor Varroa populations. A mite treatment may be necessary prior to supering for the fall honey flow or in lieu of fall honey production.
Harvest honey the 1st week of August if not done in July. Super hives during goldenrod bloom if needed. If summer honey was not harvested, top super for goldenrod/fall honey flow. Unite weak hives and position brood and honey stores in anticipation of winter.
Harvest fall honey crop and remove supers around September 10-20. Extract ripe honey. Partially filled supers should be fed back to the bees above the inner cover. Reduce entrances, apply brood medications and apply mite treatments after the supers are removed from hives. Feed heavy (2:1) medicated (Fumagillin) syrup or frames of honey to hives low on honey stores. Prevent hives from robbing.
Finish feeding medicated syrup and the 3rd Terramycin dust application by mid-October. Remove mite treatments in accordance with the label toward the end of the month.
Provide upper ventilation. Remove mite treatments prior to wintering or wrapping the colony. Wrap colonies with tar paper or commercial wrap and provide with an insulating board or moisture absorbing material by Thanksgiving. Sell honey at craft fairs, etc. Read periodicals.
Leave the bees alone and hope for a January thaw so the bees can have a cleansing flight.