Monthly Archives: March 2013

Honeybee Management Plan

I have copied a sample of my honeybee management plan below. Use this as a starting point for your own. You can modify it to meet your specific needs:

Sample Honeybee Management Plan

Colony Management (to prevent swarms):

  • I will use the honeybee management timeline provided by the University of Minnesota’s Department of Entomology, which includes schedules for feeding syrup and pollen, hive reversals, and upkeep.
  • I plan to provide three brood boxes (deeps) for the hive, beginning with one and adding additional boxes as the hive grows.
  • I will install a 2-lb. package of bees to start my colony, feeding them syrup and pollen until sufficient nectar can be collected.
  • I will perform upkeep on the hive every 7 to 10 days, observing the population of the hive, monitoring any diseases or pests (including varroa mites and AFB), and assessing the strength of the hive.
  • Once the brood boxes are fully drawn out and inhabited by bees, I will monitor the location of the queen, performing reversals of the brood boxes. The queen-occupied brood box will be moved to the bottom of the hive, ensuring that she is constantly moving upward. This method will ensure that the queen does not run out of room to lay eggs and that the brood boxes will be evenly populated, preventing crowding, which can lead to swarming.
  • In the event that I detect queen cells, I will remove them and add brood boxes to give the bees more room and less stress

Hive Upkeep & Maintenance:

  • My hive will consist of three painted brood boxes and additional painted honey supers (medium supers), an inner cover and a telescoping outer cover.
  • My hive will be placed on sturdy, level cinder blocks and rest on a painted, well-constructed hive stand.
  • I will perform upkeep on the hive every 7 to 10 days, observing the population of the hive, monitoring any diseases or pests (including varroa mites and AFB), and assessing the strength of the hive.
  • I will destroy any equipment that I suspect or have concluded contains AFB spores, and I will replace it with new equipment.
  • During upkeep, I will remove any queen cells, should I observe them.
  • I have low VOC, white latex paint on hand to paint any new equipment that I acquire, and to paint over any repairs I make to the hive.
  • I have a shed dedicated to storing my bee equipment, protecting it from robbing, mice and pests.
  • I will take these steps to keep a strong, healthy, clean hive that can defend itself from intruders, fend off diseases and pests and produce healthy brood while storing nectar and pollen and creating honey stores.
  • I plan to winter my hive in early November in three deep brood boxes dedicated to storing honey solely for the survival of the colony. My wintered hive will be covered with a black box, the opening of which will match the 1-inch opening on the side of the hive.
  • The following spring, I will feed my hive syrup and pollen until sufficient nectar can be gathered.


  • I will harvest honey from medium supers off-site at my father-in-law’s property in Spicer, Minnesota.
  • I will use a queen excluder during high honey production to ensure that my supers contain cells filled with only honey.
  • I have a capping knife, a 4-frame honey extractor and glass jars available to extract and store the honey.
  • I will label the honey in compliance with Minnesota state law, assuring that it contains no more than 18.6% moisture content.
  • I will filter the honey before bottling it to ensure it is clean and free of foreign debris.

Out like a lion

march-honeybeesI’ve been wondering when this would happen: a long, drawn-out, cold and bitter end of winter. Weather has been merciful to me since I began beekeeping. Now the chickens are coming home to roost. March is going out like a lion.

Late winter/early spring is a crucial time for honeybees in northern climes. They have reached the end of their honey stores and have the added challenge of keeping early brood warm.

If the weather is average, beekeepers can easily supplement the bees with extra honey or pollen patties. This year the cold north wind and late season snow has made it difficult to get into the hives. Of our 20 hives, I suspect half will survive. I’ve ordered packages of carniolans to supplement our lost hives and am excited to install them in April.

I’ve been working with some wonderful Minneapolitans this winter who are willing to host hives in their backyards. The permit process has been going since January. As each hive finds a new backyard home, Minneapolis becomes more of an awesome urban jungle.

March 2013

IMG_1277The bees, my friends, are coming. I’m planning on installing new hives the first week of April. Hopefully you’ve received your permit application packet from the city and have been gathering signatures from your neighbors. If you need talking points, read through the bee letter I posted last month.

Many of you have been contacting me about fly-away barriers. The city wants to make sure that if you are within 25 to 35 feet of your property line that your honeybees won’t fly directly into your neighbor’s yard. A bush, a garage, a tree or a fence all act as a fly-away barrier.