Friday, March 29, 2013


2013 Beekeeper’s Calendar

For Alaska’s Interior

By Dawn Cogan of Science-Based Art of Alaska, LLC


Below is a tentative schedule for beekeeping in Interior Alaska for 2013.  These dates and activities are subject to change depending on the weather and unforeseen circumstances.  Regardless, I will be posting weekly updates on my blog: 

DO NOT USE QUEEN EXCLUDERS WITH SUPERS THAT HAVE BARE FOUNDATION!  The bees will treat the excluder as a “ceiling” and will rarely if ever draw-out the honeycomb. 

Add queen excluder(s) three weeks prior to extraction so all the brood will hatch out before harvesting and extracting.

April 13th: Honeybees arrive at Monroe Catholic School parking lot on the gym side of the school.

April 18th - 20th: 1st Queen check (50* or warmer) Looking for eggs & larva (Do not look for queen because it is probably too cold) If you find no eggs, check again in three days.

May 4th : You should see brood in all stages (eggs, larva, and pupa) If you still do not find eggs, either call an experienced beekeeper or if you are absolutely positive there are no eggs or larva present, purchase a new queen and slowly release her (using a marshmallow like the original hiving).  If you find cells with several eggs on the cell wall – dump your colony & kill your bees.  If you find several eggs at the bottom of cells, it is o.k.

May 15 -16th: You should have several frames of brood (eggs, larva & pupa) and few cells should be empty.  If the brood pattern is “spotty”, or you find many empty cells, something is wrong!  You should either re-queen or unite your colony with another colony - (After killing the “spotty” queen).  Your bees are not getting enough food if they have no stored sugar water or no pollen in cells.  One good indication of this is if your bees are running over the frames, “shaking.”  If this is the case, feed them sugar water as well as frames with stored honey.  If you find eggs and emerging adult bees (being born) but no larva, then your hive is suffering from a lack of pollen stores.  In this case, give your bees a pollen patty (room temperature).  We may need to remove sugar feeders.  Make sure to keep any grasses, etc. cut short in front of hive entrance.

May 26th - 28th: Regular hive check – Look for sugar water and pollen stores.  Look for all stages of brood.  Remove sugar water feeders as long as local plants are blooming and sugar stores are well-stored! Swarm prevention time!! – If you know your queen is healthy & laying from the evidence of eggs, larva and pupa, kill any “swarm cells/queen cells.”  If your queen is “honeybound” (has very little empty cells to lay in) then you need to reverse your hive bodies and add a super.  Depending on the weather, you may need to turn or take your entrance reducer out completely by now.  Make sure to keep any grasses, etc. cut short in front of hive entrance.

*Remember: Queen cells are usually on the sides and bottom of frames – take your time, move slowly as you check for queen cells.  Sometimes it’s easy to miss them!  If you miss one, your hive is in danger of swarming!! Keep removing queen cells every 10-12 days.  Demaree handout is a good tool at this time. 

June 6th – 8th: Perform a regular hive check.  Make sure to keep any grasses, etc. cut short in front of hive entrance.

June 16th – 18th: Perform a regular hive check.   Keep entrance free of weeds and grass!

June 28th – 30th: Perform a regular hive check.  Add supers Keep entrance free of weeds and grass!

July 10th – 12th: Perform a regular hive check.   Keep entrance free of weeds and grass!

July 22nd- 24th: Perform a regular hive check.   Keep entrance free of weeds and grass!

August 3rd-5th: Perform a regular hive check.   You could add your excluder now if you plan on harvesting and extracting honey on or after August 26th.  Keep entrance free of weeds and grass!

August 11th – 13th: Cage queens on hive(s) not being wintered-over! Make sure the cork is well secured and hang the queen between two frames.  (Make sure queen can be fed through the screen of the little queen box).

Sept. 3rd – 6th: Extract honey and give “sticky” frames back to bees. 

September – To the end: Give bees sugar water so they will draw out any frames with bare foundation.

Sept. 10th – 12th:  In early morning or later afternoon (cool temps 35*-40*), Shop-vacuum bees and dump in compost.

Finally- Store your equipment by putting your queen excluder on top of your bottom board to discourage mice from entering and eating any left-over honey, pollen stores, or destroying next season’s wax!!  Cover up any holes in the hive with fine, mesh screen (staple).  Leave your hive outside on foundation bricks or some sort of elevated surface to discourage spring water damage.  Ratchet-strap hive together from top to bottom. 


  1. So we are new to bee keeping....what do we do with bees with all this snow? In pictures from last year there was a ton less snow.

    1. The bees should be fine as they won't exit their hive unless it is 50* or warmer.
      We just keep feeding them sugar water and pollen patties until it warms up. My prediction is that our break-up this year will be very fast when it finally arrives. I'm flying home from Tennessee tomorrow and bringing a big set of boots to kick Jack Frost clean out-of-town!! I will do my best to bring a sweet, southern wind and some sunshine, too!