Seasonal Care in Apiculture

Spring Care

​In order to take the desired yield from apiculture, it is important to consider the works necessary to be carried out every season. The works are densely carried out in spring season. 

The aim of the spring controls is to check what the bees do in winter season, current food amount in hive, presence and ovulation aspect of queen bee, number of worker bees and whether there are fusty honeycombs or diseases inside the hive. 

The first control: if the colonies are wintered in closed areas, time for driving out show differences according to regions. 

The colonies are wintered in open areas in most regions and coastal areas of our country. The first controls of the colonies which were wintered in closed areas and driven out or which were wintered in open areas can be done between 11 am and 2 pm on condition that the weather temperature is over 57-62 degrees on sunny days beginning from the time when weather gets warm and plum trees come into blossom. The colonies should not be caused to catch cold especially on first controls. It should not be forgotten that if the colonies catch cold, the bees should eat honey on great levels in order to increase the temperature to 94 degrees which is necessary for growing a brood and this case can create an environment suitable for diseases. On six frame hives, 40-80 gr. honey is consumed daily according to the hive type for increasing the temperature by 50 degrees.    

When the bees go for flying, hive bottom board is cleaned. One can get information about the colony by looking over scraps and residues on hive bottom board. The boards which are damp and include water should be changed rapidly. If the bottom board is fixed to hive body, the cleaning and change is done together with hive body. 

In frame control, if the frames contain fusty, heavy darkened and broken combs, these frames should be removed from the hive and replaced by neat combs of previous year when necessary. If there is no processed comb, comb foundation can be used instead. If the existing bee amount inside the hive does not fill the frames, the frames without bee are removed and the area is narrowed. The half of the incubation frames are changed every year.  

Presence of queen bee in colony directly affects the permanency of the colony. As a result of the controls, if it is seen that there is no queen bee in colony, it is important to check whether there is a daily egg or not. If there is a daily egg in colony, so it can be said that there is also a queen bee. On the other hand if it is understood that the colony does not include a queen bee, a new queen bee should be given to the colony or the colony should be joined with another colony.  

The aim of food control is to determine honey and pollen amount in colony. As a result of the controls in early spring, if it is seen that the food stock is inefficient, the feeding can be met by sugar syrup or bee bread made of honey and caster sugar. The feeding in this period contributes both to hunger risk and to the development of the colony. The production of given breads is subject to production license. 

In disease and parasite control it is important to be careful about some diseases such as nosema, foul brood and other ones caused by parasites. Early spring combat against varroa parasite should be carried out accurately in a proper time and dosage through licensed chemicals. In case of finding a disease or hesitating about a disease, it is important to consult an expert. 

Spring feeding is a feeding done for encouraging brood growth if the food sources inside the hive are insufficient as per quality and amount. Spring feeding should be done with syrup made of 1 scale of sugar and 1 scale of water. The feeding sugar to be used should be refined sugar and other foods should not be given. Because robbing is possible for syrup feedings done in spring, some measures should be taken and the feeding should be done at the late hours of evening. 

Other food necessary for the growth of the colony in early spring is pollen. If there is not enough pollen, the feeding can be done with bee bread made of honey and pollen. It should not be forgotten that in case there is no pollen, brood production is halted. 

Swarm means the formation of a new family by queen bee and some bees in colony leaving the colony for maintaining the generation of honey bees. In technical apiculture, it is not desired for a colony to give swarm because the swarm lowers the power of colony, and opposite measures are taken in such cases. The conditions supporting the colony to give swarm can be listed as; excessive increase of bee number, absence of honey stocking area, increase of the temperature inside the colony, aging of queen bee and genetic structure. The case of removing and preventing the conditions supporting swarm giving is an important rule of technical and economic apiculture. 

In order to increase the colony number, artificial swarm can be produced by dividing a strong colony into two parts. The combs including bees, honey and brood are divided into two hives equally. It is important to enable the equal division of field bees to both colonies. 

For this aim, parent colony is slide to left or right by half meter and a new colony is replaced by leaving the old flying direction in the middle of parent colony and the new colony. 

Another method for producing artificial swarm is the formation of a 5 framed chamber from a hive especially for increasing colony number. In this case, 3 frames with bees- broods and 2 frames with bees-honey are replaced with the new hive. These hives whose flight entrances are closed are carried to at least 5 meters ahead in order to prevent field bees from returning old hive place. Technical swarms which have newly been divided make a queen bee or a mated queen bee is given to the colony. 

Keeping record is also important for apiculture as for all other production areas. A card or registration document should be kept for each hive. By processing the information in every colony control, the works to be done later are planned. The information related with the condition of broods; pollen and honey amount; origin, ovulation date and driving out time of queen bee should be included within the records. ​

Summer Care

​Following the spring care, the care and controls of bee colonies continue in summer season. With the development of the colony, putting on frame and super, flora control and honey harvest are the works of summer season. 

Putting on comb and super

The bees start to make honeycombs when they start growing activities. New basic combs are given to the colony in this period. When the hive becomes proper for incubation, the hive should be put on super in other words honey chamber. While putting on super, at least two frames with honey are taken to the super. New combs are given instead of them. The super with some new combs and combs with honey are placed onto the hive of incubation. 

In technical apiculture, the transfer of the bees from one place to another in accordance with the flora condition is compulsory for taking good yield. This can be named as migratory beekeeping. 

Honey harvest in our country is made generally in summer months. By evaporating the excessive water, matured combs more than half of which are capped are harvested. Honey harvest should be made on frames not including brood on honey chambers and the materials to be used should comply with Turkish Food Codex.

Autumn Care

​The autumn care of the colonies carries great importance for a good winter for the bees. In autumn, the combs stocking honey and pollen as winter food should be left to the colonies. Rancid and low quality honey should not be given to the bees as winter food. 

Young queen bee should be given to the colonies including few bees or old and infertile queen bee or not including a queen bee. If there is no queen bee, the colonies should be joined together in autumn. 

For a successful wintering, brood production should be provided in autumn and the colony should enter the winter with young worker bees. Before winter, the colonies should be analyzed for reportable diseases such as American foul brood and especially varroa combat of autumn period should be made with licensed chemicals in sufficient dosages following the last honey harvest. 

Autumn feeding

Although honey and pollen in a sufficient amount is left to the colonies, the colonies should be fed with sugar syrup made of 2 scales of sugar and 1 scale of water. On the other hand, at the beginning or at the end of the winter, they should be fed with bee bread. The bread is made from the mix of 1 scale of honey and 3 scales of caster sugar. The bread package weighing 0,5-1 kg and including holes on the bottom of it is placed onto frames with bees. While preparing and applying the bread, it should be hard enough in order not to melt under the temperature of hive and it should be smooth enough to be consumed by the bees.​


​The winter place of the bees should be close to north direction, open to the south direction and its top should be closed if possible. The places should be dry and safe from wind and wetness. The hives should be raised with an easel for the protection from water and damp. 

Moreover, in order not to damage the winter cluster, the wintering place should be remote from noise and boom. It should not be forgotten that the reason for winter deaths is not cold but the absence of sufficient honey in other words starvation.