Beekeeping Checklist By The Seasons

Essential beekeeping tasks throughout the year

Bees are seasonal creatures, with predictable behaviour patterns throughout the year – from busy nectar collection and egg-laying in spring and summer, to hunkering down to wait out the winter. With that knowledge, it makes sense that beekeeping tasks are seasonal as well. Keeping your bees healthy and productive means caring for them depending on the season.

Although most beekeepers have their own particular way of doing things, some standard beekeeping tasks stay the same, year-on-year.

Check out our list of seasonal beekeeping tasks to make sure you’re on track:

Spring

Month Bee activity Key beekeeping tasks
September As the temperature rises, bees venture out to collect nectar, the queen’s egg-laying increases, and the adult population in the hive grows. The risk of a swarm increases slightly.
  • Inspect hives every 10-14 days in warm weather
  • Check for queen cells and signs of a swarm
  • Check brood pattern for signs of disease
  • Feed sugar syrup if honey stores are low
  • Remove and clean bottom board
October Egg and honey production both increase, and the chance of a swarm peaks.
  • Continue to inspect hives every 10-14 days, looking closely for queen cells
  • Consider splitting hives if signs of a swarm are present
  • Add supers if the bees seem to be running out of storage space
November Egg production peaks, the brood nest expands, and bee numbers continue to grow.
  • Continue to inspect hives every 10-14 days
  • Consider splitting hives if signs of a swarm are present
  • Add supers if the bees seem to be running out of honey storage or space for brood
  • In hot climates, consider moving your hives into partial shade before summer starts
  • Collect honey surplus if necessary

Summer

Month Bee Activity Key beekeeping tasks
December Egg-laying and honey production continue.
  • Inspect hives every 3-5 weeks
  • When necessary, add supers to give bees more storage space
  • Harvest surplus honey if necessary
  • Add a water source if there is no natural water near your hives
January Egg-laying and honey production continue
  • Inspect hives every 3-5 weeks
  • When necessary, add supers to give bees more storage space
  • Harvest surplus honey if necessary
February As days shorten, egg-laying starts to decline.
  • Inspect hives every 3-5 weeks
  • When necessary, add supers to give bees more storage space
  • Harvest and extract honey, leaving 20-30kgs to get bees through the winter
  • Check brood frames for AFB and treat if needed.
  • Check for wasps

Autumn

Month Bee activity Key beekeeping tasks
March Egg production slows, and brood nest shrinks. Drones are forced out of the hive.
  • Harvest the last of the surplus honey, if any is present
  • Remove extra supers and brood boxes, leaving bees with one or two boxes for winter
April Egg production tapers off, and honey production slows.
  • Feed bees with sugar syrup if they have insufficient honey stores
  • Repair any obvious damage to the hives
  • Do one last thorough inspection before winter
  • Consider requeening if your queen is old or weak
May Egg-laying is minimal, queen only lays enough eggs to maintain the population over winter
  • Check hives from the outside
  • Keep entrances free of weeds and debris
  • Stop supplementing with sugar syrup
  • Clean, paint, and build new frames and supers for next season
  • Consider moving hives into a sunnier spot

Winter

Month Bee activity Key beekeeping tasks
June Activity in the hive is minimal.
  • Check hives from outside – don’t open in cold weather
  • Renew beekeeping registration
  • Clean and repair equipment as needed
July Egg production increases slightly and hive population grows
  • Continue to check hives from the outside
  • Continue prep for next season
August Colony slowly expands in preparation for spring, bees may start to venture out in search of early nectar
  • Check hives from the outside
  • Keep entrances free of weeds and debris
  • Lift hives to check for honey stores – if they feel unusually light, you may need to supplement with sugar syrup.
  • Open hives on a sunny day to check for swarm cells


Want to know more about caring for your bees throughout the year? Take a look at ourbeginner beekeeping articles here.


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For technical information and hive movement restrictions due to the varroa mite outbreak, please refer to NSW DPI, 1800 084 881 (9am-5pm 7 days a week). For any further information on varroa mites please feel free to give us a call. Please note - some shipments may be currently delayed.
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