Dillingham, Alaska Beekeeper's Calendar

2017 Beekeeper’s Calendar
Dillingham Alaska
By – Tom Glass, Yvonne Tijerina, Jeff Fonkert, Pamela Murphy, Patrick Mahoney, Jim Denslinger, Jessica Denslinger, Denise Lisac, Susan Isaacs, and Beekeeping Instructor, Dawn Cogan

Below is a tentative schedule for beekeeping in Dillingham, Alaska for 2017.  These dates and activities are subject to change depending on the weather and unforeseen circumstances.
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 29th: Honey Bees arrive Saturday,  at 9am with PenAir, usually in the early morning flight (between 7:00 and 9:00am).

May 3rd - May 5: Top-off sugar water and check queen cage to see if the queen is out. If the queen has departed from the queen cage, remove the cage from the hive and save it for a later date. Do not let sugar water run out! Keep filling feeder(s) every 3 days.

May 10th  - May 12th: Perform a complete hive check (50* or warmer). You should see eggs and larva. If you do not find eggs or larvae, either call an experienced beekeeper or if you are absolutely positive there are no eggs or larvae 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 because you have a “laying worker” that is laying unfertilized eggs. Keep any grasses, etc. cut short in front of hive entrance. Do not let sugar water run out! Keep filling feeder(s) every 3 days.

May 20th – 22nd: Perform a complete hive check. You should have several frames of brood (eggs, larvae & pupa) and some cells should be empty.  If the brood pattern is “spotty”, or you find many empty cells in a “shotgun” pattern, 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 if dandelions are in full bloom and plentiful.  Keep any grasses, etc. cut short in front of hive entrance.

May 30th – June 1st: 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 (dandelions)  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.  If temperatures stay 50* or higher, remove internal insulator boards at this time. Keep any grasses, etc. cut short in front of hive entrance. Be mindful of entrance space and change entrance reducer if temperatures are 50*, but if lower, change back to smallest 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 days.  Demaree handout is a good tool at this time. 

June 9th – June 11th: Perform a regular hive check.  Keep any grasses, etc. cut short in front of hive entrance. Be mindful of entrance space and change entrance reducer if temperatures are 50*, but if lower, change back to smallest entrance.

June 19th – June 21stPerform a regular hive check.  Keep any grasses, etc. cut short in front of hive entrance. Add two honey supers now. Be mindful of entrance space and change entrance reducer if temperatures are 50*, but if lower, change back to smallest entrance.

June 29th – July 1st: Perform a regular hive check.  Make sure to keep any grasses, etc. cut short in front of hive entrance. Keep any grasses, etc. cut short in front of hive entrance. Be mindful of entrance space and change entrance reducer if temperatures are 50*, but if lower, change back to smallest entrance.

July 9th – July 11th: Perform a regular hive check.  Keep any grasses, etc. cut short in front of hive entrance.

July 19th – 21st: Perform a regular hive check. Keep any grasses, etc. cut short in front of hive entrance. Be mindful of entrance space and change entrance reducer if temperatures are 50*, but if lower, change back to smallest entrance.

July 29th – 31st: Perform a regular hive check. Keep any grasses, etc. cut short in front of hive entrance. If temperatures drop below 40* anytime during the day/night, start removing any capped frames of honey so the bees won’t consume honey stores. Reduce the size of the entrance in temperatures 40* and cooler. Increase entrance size for temperatures 50* and warmer.

August 8th  – 10th : Perform a regular hive check. Keep any grasses, etc. cut short in front of hive entrance. If temperatures drop below 40* anytime during the day/night, start removing any capped frames of honey so the bees won’t consume honey stores. Reduce the size of the entrance in temperatures 40* and cooler. Increase entrance size for temperatures 50* and warmer.

August 18th – 20th: Perform a regular hive check.  Cage queens on hive(s) not being wintered-over! Make sure the queen cage cork is well secured and hang the queen between two frames in the middle of the top brood box.  (Make sure queen can be fed through the screen of the queen cage).  If wintering over, add your excluder now to harvest and extract honey on or after September 8th. If you plan to winter-over your colony, add the excluder make double sure your queen is below the excluder. Keep any grasses, etc. cut short in front of hive entrance. Reduce the size of the entrance in temperatures 40* and cooler. Increase entrance size for temperatures 50* and warmer. You may need to add external insulation now depending on temperatures.

August 28th – 30th: Perform a regular hive check. Keep any grasses, etc. cut short in front of hive entrance. Reduce the size of the entrance in temperatures 40* and cooler. Increase entrance size for temperatures 50* and warmer. You may need to add external insulation now depending on temperatures.

September 8th: Rob honey and/or perform regular hive check. Extract honey and give “sticky” frames back to bees. Keep any grasses, etc. cut short in front of hive entrance. Reduce the size of the entrance in temperatures 40* and cooler. Increase entrance size for temperatures 50* and warmer. You may need to add external insulation now depending on temperatures.

September – To the end: After robbing most to all honey, give bees a ratio of 2:1 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. For wintering colonies, make sugar cakes and place at the top of the hive for winter nourishment. Reduce the size of the entrance in temperatures 40* and cooler. Increase entrance size for temperatures 50* and warmer. You may need to add external insulation now depending on temperatures.

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. Reduce the size of the entrance in temperatures 40* and cooler. Increase entrance size for temperatures 50* and warmer. You may need to add external insulation now depending on temperatures.

Finally- Store your equipment outdoors 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.  

Notes:
Pollen patties - Keep patties frozen until you are ready to use. When you are ready to use your patty cut a quarter of it off. Bring patty to room temperature and score a X into the wax paper before placing into your hive.

Queen Cells- June is the highest queen cell producing month so be meticulous about removing queen cells!

Check the weather - If long periods of rain are in the forecast, cover bees with a raised tarp or lean-to.  Remember to remove the covering once the rain has stopped.

Checking your Hive - If you are checking your hive in rain , be sure to set up a raised tarp.

Wintering your hive - The temperature inside the hive while wintering over should be 40 degrees.

Winter feeding - Open your hive as little as possible during the winter - Place bee fondant (10 lbs sugar mixed with one cup of water spread over a cookie sheet covered in wax paper for 24 hours to harden) on top of the brood box frames.

Storing your honey supers - Be sure to place the queen excluder on the bottom of your supers to keep rodents out while storing them for the winter.

Happy bee -  “HUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM”
Angry bee - “EEEHEEEEEEEEEEEHHHHHHHH!”

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