Wednesday, January 5, 2011

NYC Beekeepers Calendar

During last nights beekeeping class given by James Fischer of NYC BEEKEEPING one of the topics covered was Beekeepers Calendars that one can find on the net.  James pointed out that the problem with such calendars is that a beekeeper has to remain flexible in his or her timing depending on the particular seasonal temperature differences that vary from year to year.  He pointed out the importance of keeping track of "degree days" in order to have an idea when flowers will bloom.

I believe James is making an important point and hope that NYC beekeepers can come up with some way to build an adjustable sequenced timetable to remind ourselves of things that should be done each year.

As a member of a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), I have helped design numerous Search & Rescue Radio Drills and developed protocols for conducting foot patrols in a save and orderly way. One of the concepts that we found helpful during our exercises at Brooklyn South CERT was to require S&R teams to have pre-designated "checkpoints" along their patrol routes. Every time a S&R team came to an intersection where they were going to change the direction they were going, they would call in on their radios to let the Planning Section (aka "Maps") know where they were and which way they were headed.

This enabled the Incident Commander and others at our Operations Center keep track of each S&R team in case they lost radio contact.

I think that instead of using particular months to divide up our beekeeping calendar, we should adopt the "checkpoint" concept to plan our beekeeping year.

I'll give an example of what I mean as a starting point for discussion. The following was adapted from pages 23 and 24 of the Purdue Extension 4-H Beekeeping Division II - Working With Bees PDF and of course would have to be fine tuned to some extent for NYC conditions. The main concept I would like to put forward is that the "checkpoints" could be moved forward or back each year in response to seasonal variations.

So: here's a First Draft suggestion of how such a "calendar" might look:

NYC Beekeeper’s Calendar

Prepare Equipment Checkpoint

• Prepare equipment for coming season.
• Perform emergency feeding with sugar candy or dry sugar
on top of the inner cover, if necessary.

Begin Feeding Checkpoint

• Begin spring feeding toward the end of the month or early in
• Perform emergency feeding with sugar candy or dry sugar, if
• Develop an advertising program.
• Order package bees or nucleus hives.
• Prepare equipment for the active season.
• Clean up dead colonies.

Clean Entrances Checkpoint

• Clean out entrances and bottom boards.
• Order package bees and queens needed to replace those that
are failing, or to make splits.
• Continue feeding sugar or syrup if colonies are empty.

Introduce Packages Checkpoint

• Introduce package bees.
• Feed package bees syrup.
• Requeen colonies having failing queens.
• Split strong hives and requeen one half to prevent
• Reverse hive bodies on two-story colonies where the queen
is only laying above.
• Check colonies for American foulbrood and Varroa mites.

Begin Supering Checkpoint

• Add a super to each strong colony.
• Remove queen cells to prevent swarming (but make sure
they haven’t swarmed first!).
• Add another super if necessary.
• Provide a ventilation hole.
• Place queen excluder below shallow super on colonies for comb
• Start to rear queens if you want to raise your own.

Hive Splitting Checkpoint

• Split hives to increase the number of colonies, if desired.
• Remove queen cells to prevent swarming.
• Replace defective combs with full sheets of foundation.
• Provide plenty of super space.
• Requeen toward end of month.
• Check colonies for American foul brood and Varroa mites.
• Remove comb honey supers when properly sealed.

Add Supers Checkpoint

• Add sufficient super space.

Harvest Honey Checkpoint

• Harvest honey supers when they stop filling up.
• With honey supers off, treat for Varroa mites.
• Extract clover honey.
• Remove section supers.
• Do not work bees too much, to avoid robbing.
• Perform fall requeening.

Remove Supers Checkpoint

• Either put empty supers above the inner cover to let bees
clean them, or let bees rob from the supers in the bee yard.
Then store with PDB moth crystals.
• Provide supers for fall flow, or let bees store it in brood
• Check colonies for American foul brood and Varroa mites.

Mouse Guard Checkpoint

• Put on entrance reducers or mouse guards.
• Extract honey from fall flow.

Stop Feeding Checkpoint

• Complete late fall feeding if hives are light.
• Provide top entrance.
• Provide windbreaks.
• Develop a marketing program.

Book Reading Checkpoint

• Read bee books.
•Continue to develop your marketing program.
• Make equipment for extracting, bottling, etc.

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