Management Calendar for Jackson County

(Personalize and customize based upon your experiences
in harmony with the weather conditions)


  • Assemble and repair beekeeping equipment. Read beekeeping texts and periodicals. Sign up for training and or mentoring.
  • Check wintering colonies for honey reserves by lifting hives.
  • Mid Jan.- when temperature permits (60 degrees and above), install more supplemental feed, candy, candy boards, and pollen patties if needed.
  • If the bees need it they will eat it. If they don’t eat it you can remove later and freeze until needed.


  • Reposition stores or feed fondant or candy if needed.
  • Assemble, repair, paint and get all equipment ready to go for the season
  • Possibly begin feeding 2:1 sugar syrup and pollen on warm days when temperatures are and will be 59 degrees and above for several days.


  • Clean out any dead colonies and preserve comb. Place empty or dead brood boxes with comb above strong ones to restore for split off at the end of April when enough brood for another colony.
  • If weather warms to average 65 degrees remove black wraps on strong colonies and store for reuse. And move wrap and insulation to top box when adding empty or dead brood box above for the bees and queen to move up to keep brood warm during cold nights before splitting off. Keep pink polyfoam attic insulation on inner lid to prevent colony heat loss until early April sufficient night time temperatures.
  • Check colony conditions, if food reserves short, feed. Protein supplements for brood production may be started.
  • Feed light sugar syrup 1:1 depending on plant and nectar availability.
  • Remove extra supers when weather and food supply is good enough. Remember to freeze supers and any comb quickly after removing from colony to kill wax moth eggs, and preserve to store or re-use.
  • Set any new racks up.
  • Set up swarm trap boxes


  • Add foundation frames and remove old comb in brood boxes to use in nucs, especially for splits or starting new nucs.
  • For Honey the RULE OF THUMB is put your honey supers and queen excluders on when the Redbud trees are in bloom. And stay ahead of the nectar (honey) flow with several boxes.
  • Rotate the inner lid with notch to the back of the hive and install screen over notch when temperatures remain above 60 degrees. This promotes cross ventilation. The screen over the notch prevents predators from entering the hive at the top. Always leave finger space between notch and outer telescoping lid for ventilation. Remove and store pink poly foam attic insulation board.
  • Check every 10 days and If you find queen cells cut them out if you want honey that year, or pull them into a nuc box if you want to increase your hives that year. Leave the old queen in the original hive until you are sure you have a good laying queen in the nuc box. Then replace the old queen with her. Just don’t shake queen cells as the developing queen in the cell is fragile. Raising a new queen this way also helps to break the mite breeding cycle and is one of the ways to control Varroa mites. Divide and re-queen colonies at fruit bloom via multiple frame splits or colony divides. Replace queens due to old age, temperament, or bad brood pattern, but do not kill the replaced queen until the new queen has been accepted. Put the older queen with some frames of bees and food into a small nuc, and use them to pull out comb and to be a backup resource.
  • Locate all new colonies and nucleus colonies (small) far away from large and established hives to prevent problems with robbing when the nectar (honey) flow is low or gone.
  • Scrape/clean bottom boards/screen bottom slides, but do not remove them until May.
  • Do not examine the colony unless the weather permits. If exam shows hives are strong begin splits with 2 hive bodies right before the apples bloom.
  • Equalize your colonies around April 15th to boost weak colonies. Empty comb stimulates foraging, but be sure there are plant blossoms for forage.
  • Inspect brood pattern for disease and parasites at dandelion bloom.
  • Consider placing swarm traps in the Apiary to catch any swarms. Swarms happen in April and all of May. By good management you can control swarming, but just in case, have swarm traps available.
  • Hang European Hornet Traps around your apiary to catch adult hornets, yellow jackets, wax moths and other flying honey bee predators. Make sure banana peel is in the bottle so honey bees will not enter the traps. Honey bees do not like the smell of the banana peel. The instruction with recipe is on the JCBA web site.


  • Mid May to end of May add foundation and comb in and supers above brood hive bodies for bees to draw out and add honey. Install queen excluders to keep queen laying confined to the brood hive bodies. If no signs of queen cells you may be able to leave established hives alone after supers added until removing supers at the end of June. Manage colonies for population buildup and swarm control.
  • Remove bottom board slides on screened bottoms when weather safe enough to avoid chilling the new brood which is mid May or end of May depending on weather. The queen will not move down to lay eggs in a cold bottom.
  • Only remove entrance reducer due heavy forage traffic, and do it only after weather is safe enough to avoid chilling new brood and keep queen moving down. Otherwise, keep the 4 inch reducer opening.


  • Wax moth eggs will hatch out. Add more supers to established colonies as needed. Add second brood chamber to new developing colonies as soon as 8 to 9 frames of comb are pulled out.
  • End of June is end of summer honey flow depending on bloom. Begin to take off frames of capped honey and replace with empty frames/foundation or leave on until colony has enough stores in brood boxes to get through July and August. Do not take honey off of new developing colonies.
  • Depending on the weather and forecast, you can remove all honey supers at the end of second week in June to force bees to store honey in medium and deep or deep and deep for quality food stores.
  • End of June or earlier, you can harvest first crop honey from established hives, then put back 2 to 3 extracted supers of comb and leave hive alone until the end of July.
  • After extracting put extra supers back on the top of the hives temporarily (2 days) for bees to clean out the cells…. then remove and freeze comb in supers before storing.
  • Entrance reducers must be 4″ for robbing prevention or smaller 1 “ if a new small or weak colony.


  • Honey flow is not good in July in our area, except for white or sweet clover. If you removed the entrance reducer, reinstall it to 4 inch opening for the remaining months.
  • You may choose to leave honey supers until the end of July or August before extracting to ensure honey for the bees. Then if the fall flowering crop with goldenrod and asters appear will be strong, extract Honey at the end of August and let the bees store the fall honey flow for wintering food. Colonies which have excessive brood and adult bee population should left with 1 super full of honey at harvest time.
  • When you inspect colonies during July and August, cover all open boxes with extra lids or calming covers to deter robbing. The smell of open honey supers and open brood boxes will stimulate other colonies to rob.
  • When inspecting new or smaller colonies that are vulnerable to robbing do it in the morning when the air is in a down draft to prevent the smell of their food from drifting upward as it will in the afternoon up draft.


  • Manipulate and inspect the colony. There is little chance remaining to create honey comb unless there is some fall nectar (honey) flow. Do not leave hives with foundation in the brood boxes for winter.
  • Unite weak hives.
  • Mid Aug. -Start of fall honey flow depending on bloom through Sept. Set-up for fall flow and position brood and honey reserves in anticipation of winter.
  • Buy or find roof felt – dark for wrapping bee hives and cut to fit length 20 inch pieces x 18″ tall or taller for supering. Buy or find 1 inch rigid insulation (usually pink polyfoam) and cut to the size of the inner lid to later install in October for attic insulation.)
  • Complete all re-queening by mid- August and before end of August and during the Fall nectar flow of sumac, goldenrod, knotweed & aster. (Last chance for installing queen or re-queening)
  • This is the time when your back up nucleus colonies can be merged and save a queenless established colony.
  • If you have extra nucleus colonies you created that look like they are strong, look for the ways to overwinter them to spring. They will need lots of honey stores and insulation to make it to spring. They will be valuable to you in the spring.
  • Are there enough bees in the hive and is the queen present?
  • Notice how many bees are in your hives. Does each hive have at least a deep box full of bees? A deep box full of bees means about 30,000 bees in a colony. If it’s not quite full, and you have bees in a second hive body, they are probably OK .
  • All hives, regardless of hive strength, must have a queen as they go into winter. To verify the queen’s presence, we don’t need to see the queen. Seeing eggs and/or larvae in the hive is sufficient evidence of her presence. However, the failure to see eggs or larvae in the a drought situation or no nectar flow does not necessarily mean that she is not present. Due to the absence of a nectar flow, the queen may have ceased laying eggs; this is a normal response to these conditions. If you are not seeing eggs or larvae, a careful search for the queen may be required. Or if you are just starting to feed the hive, you can look at the hive again a week or so after the start of feeding. If the hive has a queen, you likely will see the results of the resumption of egg laying at that time.
  • If you do determine that you have a queenless hive, you will most likely need to combine the queenless hive with another hive due to the unavailability of queens at this time of year.
  • If you have some nucleus colonies, you can save the queenless hive by introducing the nucleus colony into the queenless established colony with a double screen or newspaper method.


  • Order and prepare feeding supplies.
  • Remove supers around Sept.10th. (during the first 2 weeks) Extract ripe supers. Partially filled supers should be feed back to the bees above the inner cover.
  • Remove ALL QUEEN EXCLUDERS. Bees could move above the excluder into a feeder or super and leave the queen below to die in colder weather.
  • Do not let bees rob. Reduce entrances, after supers are removed. A smaller opening makes it easier for the guards to protect their turf from predators. As temperatures drop, fewer “home invasions” will take place. Work in the morning as the bees are quiet. As it warms up, the scouts are out and the problem intensifies.
  • After extracting put supers back for bees to clean out the cells before storing.
  • Feed syrup if needed and make sure there are enough honey stores at the end of September.
  • Fall Swarms – A consequence of the lack of a nectar flow may be an increase in fall swarming. The books all say that late summer or fall swarming is unusual, most of those fall swarms were not really swarms but bees absconding from hives that were starving during a poor fall nectar flow. Richard Taylor, a longtime contributor to Bee Culture magazine, described in an old column a type of “starvation swarm” that is the result of a dearth of nectar and pollen
  • Install debris boards back into screened bottom boards when night temps drop to 50s and leave for winter.
  • Install insulation for outside nucs. Have nucs readied for winter.
  • Check if there are sufficient food stores in the hive?
  • Make sure there is open drawn cell wax in the middle super frames for the queen to lay and the bees to cluster on.
  • Look in the comb cells for uncapped nectar – a sign that fresh nectar is being brought into the hive. Another sign to watch for is just activity or lack of activity in and out of the hive. No, or little, activity means that not much nectar is being brought in. Dry weather can result in blooms and pollen, but no nectar.
  • Need 45-60 pounds of honey to make it through the Winter in this area. Each frame of honey in a honey super weighs about 3 pounds; in an Illinois [medium] super, about 4 pounds, and in a deep about 6 pounds. You can feed you bees with 2-1 sugar water if they are light on stores for the winter.
  • You could also feed pollen or pollen substitute to the bees or as pollen patties. You want fat, healthy bees going into Winter.
  • Check the frames in your brood chambers again. Make sure you have a queen that is laying and that you have brood. If you find a queenless hive this time of year, it is best to combine it with a nuc you were planning to over winter or combine it with another hive. Always take your losses in the fall. At this point you can still save your equipment from wax moth damage. You can always make a split next spring.


  • Rotate the inner lid with notch to the front of the hive and remove screen over notch. This allows the cold air ventilation to pass up the front of the hive and exit without crossing the brood cluster. The open notch allows an upper exit for cleansing flights when there is snow on the entrance below. Always provide finger space between the notch opening and the outer telescoping lid.
  • Install roofing felt as bee hive wrap or special insulation wrap plus the attic insulation pink polyfoam on top of the inner lid and under the outer telescoping lid by the last week of October.
  • Feed pollen patties and sugar syrup through Nov. Make sure there is 4 to 5 frames of honey in brood box and one full of honey in Illinois super for Dec. Jan and Feb food supply. Remember to leave the hive with at least 60 lbs. for use over the winter.
  • Set entrance reducers to winter size opening keep mice out of the hives and if possible install coated wire for on the outside to allow the bees to pass through and keep the mice out. Depending on the location of your colonies, field mice can squeeze into the small spaces.
  • Make sure all of your hives have heavy bricks on them to keep winter winds from blowing the covers off.
  • Prepare a windbreak if your bees are exposed to the north wind.
  • Take an inventory at your bee yards to see what equipment you need to repair or replace over the winter.
  • Freeze any frames in boxes with drawn comb for 24 hours then store in paradichlorobenze (moth crystals). Wax moth damage can be devastating to your combs. Store them in a cool ventilated area. If area is vulnerable to mice install screen on the bottom and the top of a stack of supers and hive bodies to keep mice out. Never wrap supers in plastic bags as this acts as an incubator for wax moth eggs.
  • Analyze your records — which queens did best? These are the colonies you want to create next year’s queens and splits from to continue and sustainin the best genetics.


  • The bees are preparing for winter.
  • Remove any 2:1 syrup feed and replace with fondant or candy or candy boards.
  • Provide upper ventilation via one of the many methods and possibly 2 match sticks under front corners of inner board if you detect excess moisture at any time during the cold temperatures
  • The Queen quits laying eggs sometime in November.
  • As fall turns to winter, bees cluster and go into a wintering mode,
  • When vegetation is killed by frost, make and fill outside hanging pollen feeders for foraging bees.


  • Leave the bees alone!! Hope for a January thaw so the bees have a cleansing flight.
  • If temperatures climb above 60 degrees, you can peek to check need for fondant or candy and add feed. Try to keep covered while adding supplement food so you don’t loose the colony heat.
  • Queens can start laying again anytime 2 weeks after Winter Solstice Dec 21 or 22 each year.