Hives should be registered with the National Beekeeper’s Association and inspected annually by a registered beekeeper.
Once your hive is set up you are a beekeeper and you will have lots to learn as you go forward caring for and maintaining your hive. Beekeeping is subject to many different factors and no two hives perform in the same way.
Management of your hive, or hives, usually is at its busiest during spring and summer when hive populations are exploding and honey is being drawn off. It is recommended that Langstroth hives are inspected weekly. In winter things quieten down as the colony dwindles and goes into dormancy. It’s estimated that beekeeping can take around 2 hours per week across the year.
SPRING: September October November
Hive populations start to explode as the queen begins laying large numbers of eggs daily.
Treat hives for varroa mite in early spring – make sure you do not use the same treatment twice in a row on any hive.
Carry out weekly hive inspections to monitor brood frames and look for swarm cells. Should be conducted every seven days to prevent a cell being created and a new queen from hatching – unless of course you want one. Swarm cells are usually scraped off the frame and disposed of.
SUMMER: December January February
Hives populations should be at their peak with plenty of nectar in the surrounding landscape.
Bees will be settling into maximum honey production and hopefully risk of swarming has passed.
Remove full ‘supers’ and take honey off frames. If you work quickly and your hive is really productive you can put the spun or scraped frames straight back into the hive on the same day. (North Island beekeepers be mindful of potential Tutu contamination to honey)
AUTUMN: March April May
Treat hives for varroa mite once you have taken off the last honey of the season – make sure you do not use the same treatment twice in a row on any hive.
Check regularly for any problems as autumn sees a dwindling in hive populations that are winding down for winter. At this time of year hives are weaker and are more vulnerable to pests and diseases.
Now is a good time to re-queen your hive so that the new queen can gain strength through winter before the stresses and demands of spring.
Assess how much honey is left in hives for sustaining the colony through winter when little or no nectar is available outside the hive.
WINTER: June July August
Hive populations should now be at their minimum with bees clustering around queen to maintain warmth around her. Laying is dramatically reduced as workers extend their life span to get through winter.
Feed hives with sugar solution when needed.
Winter is a good time to carry out maintenance of all equipment, to clean and sterilize tools and equipment and to carry out repairs. Fix or replace damaged frames, boxes, bases etc.