Beginning Beekeeping

Everything you need to know to become an enthusiastic beekeeper !

.. Honey Bee On FlowerBeekeepers Monthly Management

Honey bees certainly know best what to do and how to do it, so why do we need to manage them ? If you have a very healthy hive they probably do not need any managing. You merely need to check on them a couple of times a month to make sure all is going well. Other times if a hive is not doing as well as they should be for any number of reasons they may need a little help.

And then bad weather can have a very adverse effect on a hive of bees and they may not be able to get the nectar and pollen that they need to survive. Then you do need to help them by feeding them sugar water and perhaps pollen substitute.

As you look over the suggested activities below you can see there are many things you can do to help maximize your hive's health, well being and honey production, etc.

These suggestions are not all "must dos", as a lot depends on where you live and the normal weather paytterns in your area. This is merely a "Management Guide" for conditions to watch out for. Remember your ''common bee sense" should prevail !In short, try to "think like a honey bee."

Suggested Beehive Management Activities To Do By The Month


Sign up for bee school. Go to school or teach a class.

Clear snow from hive entrances.

Build new frames and hives as required.

Order bee packages.

Feed bees if needed.

Make sure the hive is pointing South-ish to shelter it from the North-ish winds.

Consider wrapping the hive with tarpaper. This will help keep the hive warm and reduce wind infiltration.

Consider adding a top insulation board. Make sure the slot is facing the frames, and the outlet is facing the front of the hive. Ensure the top extension cover is pulled forward to allow the bees to enter/exit.

Put weights on the top cover to weigh it down.

[ Here in New England it is a good idea to take off the outer and inner covers and look to see where the bees are. Look down between the frames. Use a flashlight if necessary. The idea is to see if the bees have enough honey left to get them thru to the first nectar flow - usually pussy willows and swamp maple blooms. If the bees are at the very top then you just feed them right away before they all starve to death. ]


Check the status of your hive.  It’s okay to remove the top cover and inner cover to inspect.  You’ll be able to tell where the bees are clustered.  You can move frames around so the frames with honey are near the cluster.  But NEVER physically disturb the cluster.  (The bees may come out to say Hi, but that’s their doing.  Beekeepers do not mess with the cluster.)  Once your inspection is complete, button the hive back up.

The queen has begun, or will shortly, to lay eggs.  We must now make sure there is enough food available for the hive, especially newly born bees.  They are very hungry and will go through food quickly.

Check the hives for weight of stores.  If they are light add granulated sugar on inner cover and watch to see if the bees are taking it in.  If they are not, remove the inner cover, find the cluster, put a couple of 3/8”x 1” x 6” long spacers on the frames and put some sugar water right over the cluster.  The spacers allow the bees access to the holes in the jar cover.  Put the box, inner cover, insulation board, top cover and weights back on.  Sugar syrup ratio is 2 sugar to 1 warm water.

Tilt the back-end of the hive up / front-end down to assist water drainage from bottom board.


CRITICAL to Check hive stores and FEED if they are light.  Feed sugar syrup or add dry granulated sugar on inner cover.

Queen is starting to lay eggs-make sure there is food for the new brood!

Check that the entrance is clear.  Clear away any dead-bee accumulation.

Check for dead-outs. ( Bees all dead )

Final check for clean and repaired equipment for the coming season.


Prepare for new bees

Install package bees


Queen has been laying - make sure there is food for the new brood.  Remove hive wrap, reverse brood chambers. Your hives should be very active at this time of year.

Make sure you have your honey supers ready. They will be needed soon.

Make sure there is enough room for the bees to expand and store.

Always check your hives for diseases. If found, treat or take appropriate action immediately.

If you do treat with any strips or patties, make sure you absolutely follow the package installation AND ESPECIALLY REMOVAL directions.


Watch for swarming.

Be ready to add supers. At the height of a season's honey flow bees can fill a complete super in no time !

Check for mites, etc.


Continue checking for diseases.  If found, treat immediately, PER INSTRUCTIONS ON THE TREATMENT BOX.

Check stored equipment/wax for wax moth.

Store boxes with paradichlorobenzene (moth balls without naptha-remember No Naptha).

If there is honey in supers to extract, extract!  When the super or supers you have are full, add another super for the bees to work.  Replacing “wet” supers back onto the hive will allow the bees time to repair and refill them.

Check colonies for your queen's production signs and re-queen if queenless or if she is laying a poor pattern.

Don't tempt robber bees with exposed honey. When you remove your honey supers from the hive, keep them covered as you collect them. Once bees start robbing, it is very difficulty to stop them from robbing from other hives.  Plus, it will keep the yellow jackets at bay a little easier.


Add Supers and extract full ones


Continue checking hives for diseases.  If found, treat immediately, PER INSTRUCTIONS ON BOX.


Check stored equipment/wax for wax moth.  If evidence of wax moth is found, exposing the frames to air and sunshine will eradicate the problem.

Store empty supers and hive bodies, which have drawn comb, with Para dichlorobenzene (moth balls without naptha-remember No Naphtha).  The Para repels the wax moths. Also, make sure the equipment is mice proof.

Check honey stores in brood and honey chambers.  If the hive is light (Lift/ back side of hive.  80# for 2 deeps or 3 mediums are good weights), you’ll want to plan to feed with sugar/water mixture.  BUT feed after fall flowers have passed.  Otherwise the bees will not take the syrup down. There will be some late-season harvesting by the bees; thistle, asters, golden rod are coming in.  So after the late season flowers have passed, add the feed.

If there is honey to extract in supers, extract!  Make sure all cells are capped.  When the supers are full, remove and if there are proper stores, consider adding another super for the bees to work.

Don't tempt robber bees with exposed honey. When you remove your honey supers from the hive, keep them covered as you collect them. Once bees start robbing, it is very difficulty to stop them from robbing from other hives.  Plus, it will keep the yellow jackets at bay a little easier.


Install mouse guards.

Feed if necessary.


Make sure all medications are managed per the directions stated on the package.  Improper use allows the target pests to build immunity.

Install insulation board on top of inner cover.  Homosote is the recommended material.  This will absorb water vapor, and the bees can retrieve this moisture as they need to.

Make sure there is a 2-3 pound weight on top of each hive.  This will keep the cover on in case of blustery winter winds.

Make sure there is enough ventilation to allow excess moisture to exit the hive.  Also, make sure the cover keeps out any rain or snow.  Moisture causes more harm than cold does as it causes hypothermia in the bees, and they will die.


Take inventory of your equipment and it’s state of repair.

Read catalogs and plan for the next season

[ Slightly modified where it is felt applicable ]

Compliments of the Bristol County Beekeepers Association

Live Like A Honey Bee And Enjoy Life


Updated March 24, 2018

© 2010-2018 Albert W. Needham