Interior Alaska Beekeeper's Calendar

2017 Beekeeper’s Calendar - Alaska’s Interior
By Dawn Cogan of Science-Based Art of Alaska, LLC
Below is a tentative schedule for beekeeping in Interior Alaska for 2017.  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/ 
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) below honey supers three weeks prior to extraction, ensuring the queen is in the brood boxes, so all the brood will hatch out before harvesting and extracting.
April 15th: Honeybees arrive in Monroe Catholic School parking lot on the gym side of the school, usually in the early evening (between 5:00 and 8:00pm).
April 20th – April 22nd: First 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) every 3-5 days without doing a full hive check.
April 30th  - May 1st: Perform a complete hive check (50* or warmer). 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.
Do not let sugar water run out!
Keep filling feeder(s) every 3-5 days without doing a full hive check.
May 9th – 11th: Perform a complete hive check. You should have several frames of brood (eggs, larva & pupa) and some 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 at this time.  Make sure to keep any grasses, etc. cut short in front of hive entrance.

May 19th – 21st: 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 and laying from evidence of eggs, larva and pupa, kill any “swarm cells/queen cells.”  If your queen is “honey-bound” (has very little empty cells to lay eggs 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. 
May 29th – June 1st: Perform a regular hive check.  Make sure to keep any grasses, etc. cut short in front of hive entrance.
June 10th – June 13thPerform a regular hive check.  Make sure to keep any grasses, etc. cut short in front of hive entrance. Add two honey supers now.
June 20th – June 23rd: Perform a regular hive check.  Make sure to keep any grasses, etc. cut short in front of hive entrance.
June 30th – July 2nd: Perform a regular hive check.  Make sure to keep any grasses, etc. cut short in front of hive entrance.
July 12th – 14th: Perform a regular hive check. Keep entrance free of weeds and grass!
July 22nd  – 23rd : Perform a regular hive check. Keep entrance free of weeds and grass!
August 2nd – 4th: Perform a regular hive check.  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).  If wintering over, add your excluder now to harvest and extract honey on or after August 25th. If you add the excluder make double sure your highness is below the excluder. Keep entrance free of weeds and grass!
August 12th – 14th: Perform a regular hive check. Keep entrance free of weeds and grass!
August 22nd  – 24th : Rob honey and/or perform regular hive check. Extract honey and give “sticky” frames back to bees. Keep entrance free of weeds and grass!
September – To the end: After robbing most to all honey, give bees sugar water so they will draw out any bare foundation frames and have nourishment to clean up drawn-out wax. Give them back the extracted, “sticky” frames to clean up.
September (a few days to 1 week after giving bees sticky frames):  If you are not wintering over, in early morning or early evening (cool temps 35*-40*), Shop-vacuum bees and dump in compost.
Finally- Store your equipment by putting your queen excluder between the bottom board and the bottom brood box 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 mold, mildew, and spring water damage.  Ratchet-strap hive bodies together from top to bottom.  

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