2015 Beekeeper’s Calendar
For Alaska’s Interior
By Dawn Cogan of Science-Based Art of Alaska, LLC
This is my tentative schedule for beekeeping in Interior Alaska for 2015. 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: http://sciencebasedart.blogspot.com/
April 18th: Honeybees arrive at 605 Betty Street (next to Monroe Catholic School on the gym side of the school).
April 24th - 26th: 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. Do not let sugar water run out! Keep filling feeder(s).
May 8th - 10th : Perform a complete hive check. 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 20th – 23rd: Perform a complete hive check. 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.
June 2nd – 4th: Perform a complete 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 14th – 16th: Perform a regular hive check. Make sure to keep any grasses, etc. cut short in front of hive entrance.
June 26th – June 28th: Perform a regular hive check. Keep entrance free of weeds and grass!
July 8th – 10th: Perform a regular hive check. Add supers Keep entrance free of weeds and grass!
July 20th – 22nd: Perform a regular hive check. You could add your excluder now if you plan on harvesting and extracting honey on or after August 15th. Keep entrance free of weeds and grass!
August 1st - August 3rd: Perform a regular hive check. Keep entrance free of weeds and grass! Add supers Keep entrance free of weeds and grass! 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).
August 13th - August 15th: Perform regular hive check. Keep entrance free of weeds and grass!
August 23rd – September 1st: Extract honey and give “sticky” frames back to bees.
September – To the end: Give bees sugar water so they will draw out any bare foundation frames.
September (a few days to 1 week after giving bees sticky frames): 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.