Beekeeping Calendar:
A year in the hive





Beekeeping Calendar:
A year in the hive





Beekeeping Calendar at a Glance


  • Observe bees on warm days to ensure they’re active and not in distress.
  • Where there is snowfall, cover the entrance to cut out the light and prevent workers flying.
  • Minimize disturbances; estimate less than one hour of hive activity for the month.
  • Heft the hives and feed fondant to the bees if required


  • Observe bee activity on warm days; workers may take cleansing flights.
  • Monitor hive activity, laying pattern, and food stores.
  • Prepare equipment for the coming months.
  • Estimate one hour for hive related tasks during the month.


  • Monitor colony’s food stores; feed fondant if needed. Syrup should be reserved for warmer weather (over at least 10°C)
  • Perform quick inspections on fine days to assess food availability.
  • Estimate one to two hours for hive related tasks during the month.


  • Watch for early blossoms like flowering currant and oil seed rape.
  • Monitor brood rearing and colony expansion.
  • Use queen excluder and super when needed.
  • Allocate two to three hours for hive tasks during the month.


  • Inspect hive weekly; monitor brood and watch for swarming preparations – perform artificial swarms where necessary
  • Be prepared for nectar and pollen influx; add supers as needed. 
  • Remove honey early if oil seed rape is grown locally.
  • Dedicate five to six hours.


  • Watch for rapid colony expansion and drone presence.
  • Check honey frames; extract if capped or not easily shaken out. Care should be taken to ensure that bees do not starve during ‘June Gap’.
  • Allocate five to six hours for hive tasks.


  • Add supers as needed; main nectar flow may occur.
  • Continue weekly swarm control inspections if necessary.
  • Consider merging colonies if needed.
  • Dedicate four to six hours for hive tasks.


  • Monitor colony strength; consider restricting entrance to prevent robbing.
  • Replace old queen with a new laying queen if necessary.
  • Hive activity diminishes; focus on maintenance and necessary interventions.
  • Allocate one to two hours for hive tasks.


  • Assess hive population; prepare for drones to disappear.
  • Ensure sufficient honey stores; begin winter feeding if needed.
  • Remove unripe frames and part-filled frames; treat for wax moth.
  • Dedicate two to three hours for hive tasks.


  • Inspect and secure hive for winter; fit mouse-guards.
  • Tidy equipment; assess hive requirements for the upcoming year.
  • Complete winter feeding; aim for 35-40 lbs of stores per colony.
  • Allocate one to two hours for hive tasks.


  • Monitor hive occasionally, especially after adverse weather.
  • Provide woodpecker protection if necessary.
  • Check for queen activity; refrain from opening hive
  • Allow bees to cluster and enjoy the holiday season.
Please note that these bullet points are summaries of the main beekeeping advice for each month. 
Detailed and specific beekeeping practices should be undertaken based on your local climate, hive conditions, and individual colony needs.
One should not forget to monitor the colonies for pests and diseases throughout the year.

January - The Beekeeping Prelude

As the new year begins, the intricate and delicate world of beekeeping unfolds with its unique rhythms and tasks. The month of January sets the stage for the quiet yet essential preparations that beekeepers undertake to ensure the well-being and vitality of their honeybee colonies.

Amidst the winter chill, the queen resides within the heart of the hive, surrounded by her devoted workers. A mesmerizing rugby-football shaped cluster forms, a living testament to the colony’s unity and resilience. Thousands of worker bees huddle together, creating a natural insulating barrier against the cold. This remarkable cluster acts as a beacon of life within the seemingly dormant hive.

While the pace of activity is subdued during this time, there are moments of vitality on warmer days. Workers seize the opportunity to embark on defecation flights, a crucial cleansing ritual that helps maintain the hive’s hygiene. Amidst the serenity, worker brood continues to be raised, a testament to the colony’s unwavering commitment to its future.

In the midst of a snow-covered landscape, beekeepers take a proactive role in safeguarding their buzzing charges. A delicate dance unfolds as they shield the hive’s entrance, preventing light from filtering in and thwarting any attempt by the workers to venture out into the unforgiving snow. It is a small but significant gesture, a guardian’s watchful eye over the colony’s well-being.

During this tranquil month, the demands on a beekeeper’s time are modest. A mere whisper of effort is required, less than an hour’s commitment, to observe, protect, and ensure that the hive’s delicate balance is maintained.

February - Awakening of the Hive

With the dawn of February, a sense of anticipation lingers in the air, signalling the gradual awakening of the honey bee colony. The queen, surrounded by her dedicated retinue of workers, continues her tireless efforts to ensure the hive’s continuity. A gentle expansion takes place, as a few more eggs are laid each day, marking the subtle progression of time within the hive’s heart.

While the hive’s activity remains subdued, occasional bursts of life punctuate the stillness. Warm and sunny days beckon the workers to take brief cleansing flights, a ritual that refreshes both body and spirit. The sun’s gentle caress provides an opportunity for the bees to stretch their wings and perform an essential task, cleansing themselves and the hive from within.

Amidst this choreography of life, the beekeeper’s role is one of careful observation and gentle preparation. The hive, like a symphony in progress, requires occasional tuning and harmonizing. Yet, the demands remain relatively light, a testament to the colony’s self-sufficiency during this stage of its cycle.

As the month unfurls, the beekeeper’s attention turns toward the horizon, casting an eye toward the forthcoming months. Equipment must be readied, a silent acknowledgement of the vibrant spring that awaits. The hive stands as a canvas, awaiting the brushstrokes of the coming seasons, and the beekeeper stands as an artist, poised to engage in the dance of beekeeping.

March - Balancing Growth and Sustenance

March arrives, bringing with it the promise of lengthening days and a cautious optimism. Yet, within the realm of beekeeping, this month carries a critical reminder of the delicate balance that sustains a honeybee colony. The queen, ever steadfast, gradually increases her rate of egg-laying, setting in motion a chain of events that echoes throughout the hive.

A paradox emerges during this pivotal month. As the colony’s activity gains momentum, an unsettling reality surfaces – the potential for colonies to perish due to starvation. The diligent efforts of previous months can falter in the face of inadequate preparation. The wise beekeeper understands the profound significance of the balance between growth and sustenance, a balance that requires careful stewardship.

Amidst the ebb and flow of life within the hive, beekeepers find themselves standing at a crossroads. A moment of decision arrives – to intervene and ensure the colony’s survival or to allow nature’s course to unfold. The choice is guided by a deep understanding of the colony’s needs and a willingness to provide nourishment when necessary.

Warm days offer a window into the hive’s inner workings, an opportunity to observe without disrupting the delicate dance within. Frames are removed with care, revealing the colony’s state of affairs. The absence of sealed stores signals a call to action, prompting the beekeeper to offer a lifeline in the form of fondant. A feeder of syrup at or below 10°C no matter how badly it’s needed is useless to the bees. Drinking it will lower their thoracic temperature, increasing the likelihood of immobility for the nourished individual. Since drinking it may mean death, they will leave it alone.

Amidst the hum of bees and the anticipation of spring, the beekeeper’s involvement is both art and science, a delicate balance between intervention and respect for the colony’s inherent wisdom.

April - Blossoming Abundance

As April unfurls its petals, the world of beekeeping blossoms with renewed vibrancy and purpose. The beekeeper’s careful tending and the colony’s natural rhythms intertwine, giving rise to a symphony of life within the hive.

Nature’s canvas comes alive with the delicate brushstrokes of flowering currant and oil seed rape. These early blossoms paint the landscape with splashes of color, signaling a time of abundance for the honeybees. The air is charged with anticipation as the rate of brood rearing accelerates, igniting a surge of growth within the colony.

Amidst this effervescent dance of life, a new phase unfolds for the beekeeper. A fine day, when bees take flight with purpose, beckons the beekeeper to engage in a thoughtful inspection. The queen, a regal presence, awaits discovery. Her careful examination, marked by a gentle touch and an observant eye, ensures her recognition in the hive’s bustling corridors.

A new layer of complexity enters the scene, as the beekeeper dons the mantle of architect. The placement of a queen excluder and the addition of a super of drawn combs require precision and forethought. These carefully orchestrated actions set the stage for the colony’s expansion and honey production, a partnership between the bees and their devoted keeper.

The beekeeper’s role expands to that of mentor, guiding the hive’s growth with a watchful eye. The delicate balance between intervention and non-interference becomes a guiding principle, a testament to the beekeeper’s commitment to the well-being of the colony. As April weaves its tapestry of growth and transformation, the beekeeper stands as both steward and protector of this intricate world.

May - Symphony of Spring

The arrival of May ushers in a crescendo of activity within the honeybee colony, a harmonious convergence of nature’s rhythms and the beekeeper’s nurturing touch. It is a time of abundance and vitality, when the collective efforts of bees and beekeepers coalesce to shape the colony’s future.

With each passing day, nectar and pollen flow into the hive, a vibrant tapestry of sustenance that fuels the hive’s exponential growth. The queen reigns supreme, her rate of egg-laying reaching a crescendo, as if conducting a symphony of life within the brood chamber. The hive pulses with energy, brimming with potential.

Amidst this season of plenty, the beekeeper assumes a role akin to a conductor, guiding the hive’s activities with measured precision. Supers are added, their presence a testament to the colony’s industrious endeavors. Honey, a golden reward for the bees’ tireless efforts, is harvested, a testament to the delicate partnership between the bees and their steward.

The beekeeper’s presence is a reassuring one, a gentle touch that maintains the hive’s delicate equilibrium. Swarm preparations are monitored, an artful balance between allowing the colony its natural instincts and ensuring its longevity. It is a time of collaboration, where bee and beekeeper work in harmony to craft the hive’s destiny.

As the sun-drenched days of May unfold, the beekeeper stands as both conductor and custodian, an active participant in the hive’s bustling narrative.

June - Vigilance in the Buzzing Metropolis

As June unfolds, the honeybee colonies stand as bustling metropolises of life and activity. The symphony of spring reaches its zenith, and the colony’s rhythms take on a dynamic intensity. The beekeeper’s role is one of vigilant observation and thoughtful management, as the hive’s momentum surges forward.

Unswarmed colonies emerge as vibrant entities, their populations burgeoning with vitality. The queen, ever regal, reduces her rate of lay, a signal of the colony’s transition from rapid expansion to a more balanced state. Drones, a testament to the hive’s health and vigor, make their appearance, weaving their presence into the fabric of colony life.

For the beekeeper, this juncture marks a pivotal moment of decision. Hive inspections become a ritual of empowerment, where the beekeeper employs a discerning eye to guide the colony’s trajectory. The process of honey extraction, a delicate dance between preservation and sustenance, takes center stage. The beekeeper’s actions are informed by experience and intuition, honed over seasons of dedicated care.

The symphony of the hive continues, punctuated by the diligent efforts of bees and the vigilant oversight of their keeper. Weekly swarm control inspections become a hallmark of the beekeeper’s routine, a choreography that orchestrates the hive’s destiny while safeguarding against the prospect of swarming.

As the sun-drenched days of June unfold, the beekeeper stands as both conductor and custodian, an active participant in the hive’s bustling narrative.

July - Maturation and Deliberation

July brings with it a sense of maturation and refinement within the honeybee colonies. The grandeur of spring’s crescendo recedes, making way for a steadier rhythm that pulses through the hive. It is a time of consolidation, as the colony’s population stabilizes and transitions toward a state of equilibrium.

Nature’s bounty continues to flow, yet the pace of nectar collection moderates. The queen’s rate of lay diminishes, ushering in a period of thoughtful consideration. Drones, emblematic of the hive’s strength and fertility, persist in their presence, a testament to the colony’s vitality.

For the beekeeper, July marks a juncture of discernment and measured action. Supers are added judiciously, aligned with the ebb and flow of nectar availability. The vigilant eye of the beekeeper is cast upon the colony’s state, gauging the need for intervention or restraint.

Swarm control inspections remain a steadfast fixture, a choreography of checks and balances that mitigates the risk of swarming. In this delicate dance, the beekeeper exercises finesse and skill, guided by the principles of colony health and longevity.

The symphony of the hive plays on, resonating with the wisdom of the bees and the beekeeper’s careful stewardship. As July unfolds, the beekeeper stands as a sentinel of the hive’s well-being, a guardian of the delicate equilibrium that sustains this intricate world.

August - Transition and Reflection

With August’s arrival, the honeybee colonies embark on a journey of transition and reflection. The crescendo of spring’s vitality recedes, and the colony’s energy assumes a more measured cadence. It is a time of transformation, as the hive navigates the delicate balance between abundance and moderation.

As nectar availability wanes, the colony’s strength gradually diminishes. Drones continue to occupy their space within the hive, a reminder of the vibrant life that permeates the colony. Outside activity wanes, a testament to the colony’s prudent conservation of resources.

For the beekeeper, August marks a period of strategic consideration. The urgency of swarm control inspections wanes, yielding to a sense of stability. Attention turns toward thoughtful measures, such as restricting entrance size to deter robbing by wasps or other bees. The beekeeper’s gaze extends to the queen, contemplating the possibility of her replacement, an act of stewardship that ensures the hive’s continuity.

As the pace of activity shifts, the beekeeper finds respite and an opportunity for reflection. The colony’s growth, nurtured by the beekeeper’s care, culminates in a season of measured repose. In August’s gentle embrace, the beekeeper stands as a guardian of balance, overseeing the hive’s evolution with a steady and discerning hand.

September - Preparing for Autumn's Embrace

September ushers in a season of transformation within the honeybee colonies, as the rhythms of autumn begin to weave their magic. The once-bustling hives gradually shift toward a state of introspection and preparation, setting the stage for the approaching winter months.

Drones, once a symbol of vitality, gradually disappear overnight, signaling a poignant shift in the hive’s dynamics. The queen, a regal presence, often pauses her egg-laying endeavors, reflecting the hive’s acknowledgment of changing seasons. The colony’s population undergoes a gradual reduction, a natural response to the ebbing nectar flow.

For the beekeeper, September is a month of measured activity and thoughtful planning. Hive inspections take on a purposeful air, as beekeepers assess honey stores and anticipate the colony’s winter needs. The delicate dance of nourishment begins, with the beekeeper ensuring that the colony is well-prepared to face the challenges of the colder months.

As the final notes of summer’s symphony fade, the beekeeper’s role evolves into that of a caretaker and provider. The act of feeding and nurturing takes center stage, a testament to the beekeeper’s commitment to the hive’s well-being. Amidst the changing landscape, the beekeeper stands as a guardian of sustenance, guiding the colony toward a season of preparation and resilience.

October - Tranquility and Readiness

October’s arrival heralds a time of tranquility and reflection within the honeybee colonies. The rhythms of life, once vibrant and energetic, begin to ease into a more subdued cadence. The hive’s activities shift from outward expansion to inward consolidation, as the bees and their keeper engage in a delicate dance of readiness.

With the waning warmth, bee activity becomes sporadic, reserved for days when the sun offers its gentle caress. The familiar hum of the hive gives way to moments of stillness, punctuated by intermittent flights as workers venture out on cleansing missions. The beekeeper’s role shifts from intense oversight to a more reflective vigilance.

In this season of introspection, the beekeeper takes deliberate steps to ensure the hive’s winter readiness. Feeding is completed, ensuring that the colony has ample stores to sustain them through the colder months. Mouse-guards are thoughtfully fitted, safeguarding against potential invaders as the hive transitions to a period of reduced activity.

Amidst the autumnal tapestry, the beekeeper’s presence remains a guiding force, a steady hand that tends to the hive’s needs with a blend of care and forethought. October becomes a month of preparation and readiness, a time when both bees and beekeeper stand as custodians of the hive’s future.

November and December - A Time of Contemplative Closure

As November and December unfold, a sense of calm envelops the honeybee colonies, and the beekeeping year draws to a contemplative close. The rhythms of the hive slow to a tranquil pace, mirroring the quietude of the winter landscape.

Within the hive, the bees form tight clusters, conserving energy and resources. Occasional flights, reserved for the warmest and sunniest of days, provide a brief respite from the hive’s winter hibernation. The beekeeper’s interactions become minimal, marked by cautious inspections aimed at ensuring the colony’s well-being.

In these months of stillness, the beekeeper’s role is one of patient guardianship. The hive stands as a testament to the year’s journey, a living archive of the seasons past. As the beekeeper tends to the hive with a gentle touch, a profound sense of connection emerges – a bond between the steward and the intricate world of the honeybee colony.

In this quiet tapestry of winter, the beekeeper’s presence endures, a silent companion to the colony’s slumber. As the year draws to a close, the cycle begins anew, and the beekeeper’s journey continues, guided by the lessons of the past and the promise of the future.