The Beekeeper's Calendar: Maintain A Productive Warré Hive

| 11/8/2013 4:04:00 PM

A beekeeper’s timetable only becomes a regular annual cycle after the first year because creating a new apiary involves several one-time steps (see previous post: “The New Beekeeper’s Calendar: Getting Started”). This post contains a summary of a Warré Beekeeper’s regular seasonal activities to give you both: a general idea of what this method entails in the long term if you are considering adopting this method; and, to provide you with a calendar that you can use as a guide once you have gotten started.

After the first year when you have established your apiary, you will take on the role of steward and thief: helping the bees through difficulties (drought, pests, disease, etc.) and stealing their spare honey and other hive products.  Your main tasks will change with the seasons and you can explore various complimentary projects using the yield of your harvest: candle making, soap making, etc.

Beekeeping in Fall

Make at least one major visit to the hive(s).Beekeeping With The Warre Technique

  • Learn about what is happening in the hive and what you see at the entrance.
  • Monitor varroa mites.
  • Make a thorough health inspection of the hive(s) before winter sets in. Check on pests, and verify that the bees have enough honey reserved for the winter. In cold regions, you may want to reorient the direction of the comb to help the bees retain warmth.
  • Reduce the size of the hive entrance for winter.
  • Get on a waiting list for: a new queen (if you have chosen to re-queen in the spring); or, more bees (if you want to start another hive without catching a swarm).

Beekeeping in Winter

Take care of old equipment and prepare additional equipment for harvesting hive products or capturing swarms, etc.

  • Know what is happening in the hive(s) and what you’ll see at the entrance.
  • Prepare more boxes for the hive(s) if necessary.
  • Inspect, repair, clean equipment.
  • Choose a harvest method and assemble the necessary gear.
  • Assemble jars and other containers.
  • Prepare tools to capture swarms.
  • Consider feeding in late winter.

Beekeeping in Spring

(Spring is the busiest time of year.) Make at least one major visit to the hive(s). Possibly: start new hive(s), catch bee swarms, re-queen an existing hive, etc.

  • Know what is happening in the hive(s) and what you’ll see at the entrance.
  • Feed, if necessary.
  • Add space to the hive(s) for honey storage.
  • Inspect the hive(s) while open.
  • Treat for varroa mites.
  • Capture swarms and start new hives.
  • Re-queen.
  • Learn how to store and use honey, wax, and other hive products.

Late Spring / Early Summer/ Late Summer/ Early Fall

Make one visit to the hive(s) to reap the rewards of your work by stealing a bit of honey (the timing depends on the peak honey flow period in your location).  

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