Not all of these will be necessary each month, but consider each item
Oxalic acid treatment (if wanted)
Visit apiary, particularly during/after wind amd rain
Check straps, mouse guards, woodpecker protection
Check hive entrances are clear (snow?)
Check stored combs for wax moth. Re-wax all the old dirty frames
Scrape off the wax and propolis from all your queen excluders
Read last year's hive record and make/review plans for coming year
Read a bee book to reconnect
Check hives for damage
Check stores; bees need to raise cluster temperature,
make sure they do not run out of food
Monitor varroa levels if no recent treatment applied
Check stored equipment, esp drawn super comb
Set Asian Hornet traps
Quick check for presence of bees - clean out any dead hives
Quick check for presence of queen - look for eggs (when slightly warmer)
Check for stores and feed if necessary
Remove mouse guards (if used)
Mark and clip queens
Clean hive floor in good weather
If a hive is not thriving, test for Nosema
If weather bad, feed pollen supplement
Get record cards ready
Make any new frames needed
When warm do a disease inspection
Replace old and dark comb (Bailey comb change?)
Watch for swarm cells toward end of month
Start regular checks of brood box
Full check for bee diseases
and new super as soon as previous is full of bees
Carry out comb change, Shook Swarm, Bailey
or rotation (1/3 each year)
Clean hive floor
Note what's flowering - for future planting
Easiest time of year to catch and mark queen
Put Asian Hornet traps out
Check enough kit for swarm control
Artificial swarms for increase
Drone brood culling
Consider harvesting honey
Drone brood culling
Monitor for varroa
Add supers if needed
Consider feeding if there is a June gap.
Replace old, dirty, or damaged comb (feed syrup to help drawing out)
Don't remove ant more queen cells
Unite weak colonies
Add supers when current super is 60-70% capped:
If a drawn super then above other(s)
If not drawn then below current super(s) (warmth)
Check extraction equipment is ready
If going to heather, prepare now
If storing supers make sure that they are sealed
Make varroa checks (4/day is high)
See "Varroa" from Beebase > Publications > Advisory leaflets #11
Test for Nosema
Look out for wasps & other robbers
After extraction return supers in evening and
place eke under wet super so that honey
is returned to the brood box.
Perform disease inspection on each hive
Monitor for robbing
Check for stores, particularly if wet
and consider feeding
Consider combining weak colonies
Order fondant if necessary
Put on mouse guards
Protect against woodpeckers
Increase air flow
Heft to check stores
Prepare frames for next season
Open brood cells:
Either a single egg at the base or
one developing larvae which should be:
* ‘C’ shaped,
* in the base of the cell,
* be pearly white
* have finely defined body segments.
Sealed brood cells:
Completely closed cappings in blocks looking very much like a digestive biscuit.
Greasy, sunken or perforated cappings suggest disease - gently lift and scrape with a match stick. Cappings that are being built have a hole in the centre and will be adjacent to open brood. Cappings which are perforated usually have jagged holes to one side.
Traditionally oilseed rape honey is extracted by 15th May. By then it has finished flowering and the honey starts to granulate in the combs.
When collecting a swarm
Ask for a picture of it - see how big it is; whether they are honey bees; and how accessible it is.
Shake the swarm into a box or skep and collect it later in the evening.
Hive them towards dusk and make sure the cloth is secured so that they do not all go under the hive rather than into it.
Make sure you have a solid floor; swarms do not like open mesh floors; (do not put a small swarm in a big box or a large swarm in a small box. A small swarm cannot heat a big box and a big swarm will not fit into and grow in a small box.
Planting for bees
The June Gap
In June there can be a gap between the nectar flow from the spring flowers finishing and that from the trees starting. This can cause severe problems, especially if it is a wet June. This can happen when the colony is at its maximum size so feeding might be needed to avoid starvation, especially if you have taken honey in May.
Winter Varroa treatment
Oxalix acid is typically applied between Christmas and New Year, but some now think that it is better not to wait that long and apply after the first protracted cold spell of winter has arrived - typically the last week in November or the first week in December. The point is to apply it when there is no brood, because it does not kill the varroa in sealed cells.