This page has been created with the latest advice from the BBKA and scientific evidence in order to create the ultimate beekeeping calendar for the Fareham area.  Its aims are to increase colony survival rates through awareness of reducing varroa, feeding, hygiene, queening, ventilation, insulation, protection and to maximise honey production through good swarm management and hive manipulations.  Not easy!

It’s worth noting this calendar is based on the following:

  • Guidance is for novice & improvers, hence the techniques are simple
  • 14×12 brood box examples are used meaning some techniques involving double brood boxes are not possible
  • Being in the south of England it gets warmer here earlier than in the north
  • The calendar will vary slightly each year depending on the temperature and your ability to get to your hives


  • The bees will consume about 24lb (11Kg) of stores in January, so check they have enough by hefting hive (don’t open the hive)
  • Read books, study for March BBKA exams
  • Build hive parts
  • Get all your DIY and other jobs out of the way in advance of the beekeeping season kicking-off


  • The bees will consume about 24lb (11Kg) of stores in February, so check they have enough by hefting hive (don’t open the hive)
  • Undertake varroa count and plan treatment as necessary
  • Read and plan the next 6 months, especially FeedingSwarm Control and Varroa Management. Note: It is good practice to vary treatments to prevent the varroa becoming resistant to any one product.
  • Order equipment and bees (from a reputable supplier), as required
  • Put out Asian Hornet monitoring stations where they can be seen (e.g. by kitchen window)


  • Take BBKA exams
  • Observe hive entrance for flying bees bringing in pollen
  • This is the month when colonies often die of starvation. Weigh hives and feed bees if necessary (Read: Feeding Bees)
  • When weather warms up:
    • Remove woodpecker protection
    • Remove mouse guards when the bees are no longer in a cosy cluster
  • Start new seasons Hive Record Cards
  • If they have been in the area the previous year Install Asian Hornet Traps for queen trapping (more about: Asian Hornet)


  • Easter Weekend: Plant Bee-Friendly Flowers
  • Spring feeding (Read: Feeding Bees)
  • Spring cleaning (Read: Bee Hygiene)
  • Varroa Management: Either cut off drone brood below shorter frames you are using in the brood box or insert drone brood foundation into the brood chamber next to the outer frame of brood.
  • Change brood box and floors for clean ones (if you have sterilised spares, read: Bee Hygiene);
  • Understand what healthy and diseased comb looks like: Brood comb photos
  • Inspect bees as follows:
    • Inspect every 7-9 days for disease, swarming intentions, status of Queen, brood pattern and stores (9 days is the time it takes the bees to create and cap a Queen cell and decide to swarm).  Temperature must be above 15C
    • Practice good apiary hygiene (Read: Bee Hygiene)
    • Undertake varroa counts
    • Treat for varroa if the load is greater than 1,000 mites per hive for Varroa Management
    • If bees show intention to swarm then create artificial swarm
    • Super-up (when bees cover 7 of the 10 frames add a super)
    • Remove supers for extraction as required; essential if your bees are bringing in oil seed rape
    • To understand nectar flows, read: Harvesting Honey
    • Unite weak colonies where necessary
    • Make sure there is enough space for the bees
  • This inspection is a good time to find and mark the Queen before hive gets too busy
  • Set up Swarm Traps / Bait Hives


  • Inspect as above
  • Add super, preferably one that needs drawing out.  Thinking: they will produce wax and this might reduce their intention to swarm
  • Remove Asian Hornet queen traps to prevent bycatch


  • Inspect as above
  • If have a Queen in her 3rd year then create a nuc with her. Having a nuc means that if things go wrong you still have the old Queen if the old colony has a problem raising a new Queen. Also, now is a good time to requeen if necessary (e.g. aggressive bees).


  • Inspect as above
  • Watch out for robbing
  • This is a good month to requeen (with mated queen)
  • Late July or early August (whenever the nectar flow stops):
    • Remove supers, harvest honey, put wet supers back on and then remove a few days later when dry (taking honey now, i.e. quite early gives the bees time to create stores for winters and means you might not have to feed them for the winter)
    • Put any frames with uncapped honey into one super and put this below the brood box. This gives them a bit of extra food and the extra height keeps them a bit further from the cold ground (you can leave it like this untill the spring)
    • Queen Excluder should be at the top above the brood box
    • If medium/high varroa count then apply treatment. Varroa counts can be inaccurate, so you might want to treat anyway (remember to rotate different treatments)


  • Inspect as above
  • Add entrance narrower
  • If required start feeding (Read: Feeding Bees (how-to guide).  Also, read Starving Bees.


  • Inspect and look for:
    • Weak colonies.  Colonies need to have bees over at least 5 frames to survive the winter.  Weak colonies need to be either (A) overwintered and fed in a nucleus box or, (B), better to unite weak with strong colonies, as long as they don’t have any disease. Only around 50% of nucs survive the winter (Read: combining hives)
    • Strong colonies are queen-right and disease-free
    • Food stores – they need 18Kg of stores to get them through winter (15Kg with Bee Cosy). Each standard national brood frame holds 2.5Kg of honey (and each 14×12 holds nearly 3.75Kg). Hence you need 8 (or 6) frames of honey
  • Feed colonies as required (see above), further notes:
    • Use thick sugar syrup (2:1 sugar:water)
    • 1Kg of sugar will create 1.25Kg of stores in the brood box
    • Put queen excluder between the feeder and brood box so the Queen doesn’t get into the syrup and possibly drown
    • Don’t overfeed – aim for a spring balance to record a weight of 15Kg each side of the hive (less the roof) by the end of October. Allow for the bees bringing in nectar from ivy.
    • Read Feeding Bees for more information
  • Clean equipment prior to storage.  Store and protect brood box, supers and comb from rodents and wax moth (Read: Bee Hygiene). You can use B401 to protect from wax moth
  • For further information Read Top Tips For Preparing Bees For Winter


  • Keep feeding until spring balance records a weight of 18Kg each side of the hive (less the roof) at the end of October.
  • Remove queen excluders
  • Configuration for the winter:
    • Adequate ventilation in order to get the moisture out of the hive (bees will get wet and cold otherwise):
      • If you have solid floors – then top ventilation required
      • If you have open mesh floor – then no top ventilation required and could cause too much draft
      • Read more: Hive Ventilation & Configuration
    • Insulated roof (means the warm air rising does not condense and drip down due to a cold roof). Some people have 5cm plus of insulation.
    • Some beekeepers use a Bee Cosy
    • Put hive at slight angle so drips of condensation on the crown board go down side of hive rather than drip into the winter cluster
  • Add mouse guard, Put them on at the end of October (when bees are starting to cluster and not strong enough to defend themselves)
  • Add chicken wire to protect hives from woodpeckers (Bee Cosy should be adequate)


  • Take varroa counts
  • Make sure hives are secure against the weather
  • Take BBKA exams
  • Store away Asian Hornet monitoring stations until end of February


  • Dead bees might start to block the entrance. Take out the entrance narrower, sweep out the bees with the mouse guard and then replace the entrance narrower but with the entrance at the top, this means that the dead bees should not block the entrance as the entrance is now higher
  • Oxalic acid treatment (Read: Varroa Management). In the UK research has shown that 10-25 December is the optimal time to apply Oxalic Acid.
  • Feed fondant if required (Read: Feeding Bees)
  • Continue checking stored brood boxes and supers for signs of rodent, wax moth or woodpecker damage.