This calendar is a combination of information from three separate resources and has been edited for the Mountain region in Western North Carolina, specifically Cherokee County. To review the sources used for this page, please visit Calendar for Beekeeping in Central North Carolina (by Nancy Rupert), Flowering Plants (by the NC State Beekeepers Association) and our very own archives of the Hive Vibes Newsletter (by Zack Stockridge).

January Blooms and Doin’s

Plant NameScientific NameStarts# DaysEnds
We got nothin’ …
  • Events to Consider:
    • Keep learning — register for bee school, read books, read journals, etc.
  • Monthly Hive Inspection:
    • Add pollen supplements, if needed; check amount and location of honey stores, and feed (2:1 syrup or fondant) if <3/4 super of stored honey left.
    • Check/repair/replace stored equipment; order wax/woodenware.
    • Order nucs/packages.
    • Combine or insulate smaller (less than 4 frames of bees) hives.
    • Combine hives where queen has failed, if they’re still alive and haven’t absconded.
    • Move hives if they’ll need to be relocated this year.
    • Bees may need help removing dead bodies from entrance area.

February Blooms & Doin’s

Plant NameScientific NameStarts# DaysEnds
Still got nothing’ …
  • Events to Consider:
    • Call your local cooperative extension office if you want your name on a “swarm-catcher” list.
    • Make plans to attend the annual NCSBA Spring Meeting in March.
  • Monthly Hive Inspection:
    • Brood build-up intensifying.
    • Most hives need feeding (1:1 syrup in most cases, 2:1 if less than 1/2 a super is left).
    • Combine hives if needed (see January entries above).
    • Repair/replace equipment if needed; add move hives if needed.
    • During last half of February, consider adding super/hive body of wax foundation to allow bees to draw out more comb for spring. (Feeding or nectar is required for this.)
    • Replace a few (<4) frames where comb is old or has excessive drone cells.
    • Some hives may need treatment for Nosema disease, especially if too cold for cleansing flights.

March Blooms & Doin’s

Plant NameScientific NameStarts# DaysEnds
Red Maple Acer rubrum 03-053504-09
  • Events to Consider:
    • NCSBA annual Spring Meeting (usually first weekend in March) — great learning opportunity!
  • Monthly Hive Inspection:
    • Swarming under way; implement prevention measures (make splits, remove queen cells, “checker-board”, temporarily or permanently remove current mother queen); set up “bait” hives.
    • Reverse bottom two or three boxes on hive to give queen more room to lay: most hives have moved up above the bottom hive body, leaving it virtually empty. This measure also helps reduce swarming. Caution: be careful not to split up clusters of brood when you do this.
    • Two to three weeks after this reversal, it’s likely that you’ll need to reverse them again. (An alternative to reversal: simply add another hive body.)
    • Assess for pest and/or disease problems (especially varroa mites, American foulbrood, and European foulbrood) and treat if needed. Treatments should be completed by early April to limit risk of contaminating honey.
    • Check honey stores; feed (1:1 or thinner syrup) if needed.
    • Look closely at the brood pattern (should be a football design); order new queen if current one is failing.
    • Continue to replace few frames of old/undesirable comb, if needed.
    • Near end of the month, add at least one honey super; remove entrance reducers; equalize hives.

April Blooms & Doin’s

Plant NameScientific NameStarts# DaysEnds
SumacRhus spp.04-0814609-01
Red Maple… continues04-09
  • Events to Consider:
  • Monthly Hive Inspection:
    • Nectar flow is picking up this month: make sure that all medications are out of hive unless required for bees’ survival.
    • Be prepared to add new supers every 7-10 days.
    • Remove feeders from all hives unless weak or new.
    • Bees should be very busy; closely examine hives that are not, and trim weeds that may be hindering flight.
    • Swarming is usually heavy. Continue prevention/capture measures.
    • Look closely at brood pattern; replace queen if needed.
    • Have everything ready to install nucs/packages that you’ve ordered; feed upon installation.
    • Consider adding queen-excluder to prevent brood in honey supers.

May Blooms & Doin’s

Plant NameScientific NameStarts# DaysEnds
DandelionTaraxacum officinale05-015006-20
Black GumNyssa sylvatica05-055006-20
HollyIlex spp.05-081505-23
Black LocustRobinia pseudoacacia05-151405-29
RaspberryRubus spp.05-171706-03
PersimmonDiospyros virginiana05-221506-06
Tulip PoplarLiriodendrum tulipifera05-252306-17
Ladino, White CloversTrifolium repens05-295107-19
Sumac … continues09-01
  • Events to Consider:
  • Monthly Hive Inspection:
    • Nectar flow is in full force this month.
    • Check hives weekly; add supers as needed.
    • Get extraction and bottling equipment ready.
    • Consider adding an additional hive entrance (via 5/8” hole or shim) above brood area, for foragers.
    • Swarming continues— keep up prevention/capture measures.
    • Replace failing queens.
    • Start planting annuals for future nectar/pollen supplementation.
    • Install traps for small hive beetles if needed (i.e., if more than 20 adult beetles seen in hive).
    • Place two or more bee “watering holes” in apiary, if not already present in preparation for the summer heat.

June Blooms & Doin’s

Plant NameScientific NameStarts# DaysEnds
Sweet CloverMelilotus spp.06-085307-31
BlackberryRubus fruticosus 06-153007-15
Basswood, LindenTilia spp.06-202307-13
SourwoodOxydendrum arboreum06-252507-20
Raspberry… continues06-03
Persimmon… continues06-06
Tulip Poplar… continues06-17
Dandelion… continues06-20
Black Gum… continues06-20
Sumac… continues09-01
  • Events to Consider:
    • Make plans for attending NCSBA Summer Meeting in mid-July.
  • Monthly Hive Inspection:
    • Consider harvesting available honey before mid-June’s Sourwood flow to ensure more “pure” Sourwood crop.
    • If honey being harvested, put “wet” supers back on hives late in day to limit robbing.
    • Can start late-season splits during last half of June; feed splits initially, even if there is nectar available
    • Continue measures to control small hive beetle population.
    • Keep water for bees constantly available.

July Blooms & Doin’s

Plant NameScientific NameStarts# DaysEnds
Basswood, Linden… continues 07-13
Blackberry … continues 07-15
Sourwood… continues 07-20
Sweet Clover…continues07-31
Sumac… continues09-01
  • Events to Consider:
    • Attend NCSBA annual Summer Meeting, if possible (usually mid-July)— great learning opportunity!
  • Monthly Hive Inspection:
    • May harvest some (or all) of honey; may continue late-season splits; continue beetle controls; keep water available for bees (see June activities).
    • Get supers on for cotton honey, if hives near cotton fields.
    • Replace failing queens; consider replacing any queen that is two years old or older.
    • Can begin annual varroa mite assessment, and treat if needed/practical.

August Blooms & Doin’s

Plant NameScientific NameStarts# DaysEnds
AsterAster spp.08-304010-09
Sumac… continues09-01
  • Events to Consider:
    • Local Farmer’s Markets — set up a booth and sell your honey!
  • Monthly Hive Inspection:
    • If not in area of significant cotton bloom, harvest remaining desired honey by mid-month to keep bees from eating it.
    • Pest control is critical this month: hive beetle populations are peaking, varroa mites are nearing their peak populations, some factors increase risk of damage from wax moth larvae, and yellow jackets/hornets tend to be plentiful.
    • Careful assessment of queen performance—this month is usually last chance to replace queens until the following spring.
    • Can still make late-season splits early in August if using mated queens.
    • Keep water available for bees constantly.
    • Be prepared for ”badly behaving bees”: because nectar flow is so scarce, bees may become more defensive and more likely to rob other hives.
    • Install robbing screens or entrance reducers (but be aware of need for ventilation), and keep hive inspections as brief as possible.
    • Completing honey harvest + decrease in queen’s egg-laying = extra empty supers of drawn comb; store them using method that prevents damage from wax moth larvae (freezing, keeping open to light/ventilation, using paradichlorobenzene [PDB] crystals).

September Blooms & Doin’s

Plant NameScientific NameStarts# DaysEnds
Sumac… continues09-01
Aster… continues10-09
  • Events to Consider:
    • Volunteer at the County Fairs to help educate the public and sell club honey.
    • Honey Shows — enter your honey or volunteer!
  • Monthly Hive Inspection:
    • Continue measures for pest control; if hives exposed to but not sickened by American foulbrood, apply treatment to prevent full-blown disease.
    • Varroa control should be completed by end of month!!
    • May feed thin (1:1 or more diluted) sugar syrup for 2-3 weeks to stimulate queen laying—builds up winter population—but by last week of September, begin feeding thicker (2:1) syrup for winter stores, although thicker syrup may not be necessary if >3 supers of honey left on hive and/or heavy fall nectar flow.
    • Consider Nosema assessment/treatment.
    • Combine colonies later in the month if weak and/or have failing queens.
    • Should have brood in bottom box. If not, may need to rearrange things.

October Blooms & Doin’s

Plant NameScientific NameStarts# DaysEnds
Aster… continues10-09
Then nothin’…
  • Events to Consider:
    • Volunteer at the County Fairs to help educate the public and sell club honey.
  • Monthly Hive Inspection:
    • Post-treatment assessment for varroa mites (i.e., did your treatment work?).
    • Remove all queen excluders, if present.
    • Combine hives that are weak/have failing queens.
    • Feed thick syrup, if needed, for winter food stores.
    • Limit frequency of inspections after mid-October: bees are sealing cracks with propolis, and waste lots of time/energy if they have to keep replacing it.
    • Add entrance reducers near end of month to keep mice out.
    • Drones being expelled in most hives.
    • Plant (in October and November) herbaceous perennials for future nectar/pollen sources.

November Blooms & Doin’s

Plant NameScientific NameStarts# DaysEnds
Still nothin’…
  • Events to Consider:
    • Year-end bee club meeting and Holiday Pot Luck Dinner
    • Bee caught up before Thanksgiving, so you can enjoy food, family, football, Black Friday, etc.!
  • Monthly Hive Inspection:
    • Combine hives that are weak/have failing queens.
    • Ensure adequate ventilation near top of hive.
    • Feed thick syrup, if needed, for winter stores.
    • Provide weights (brick, rock, concrete block, etc.) for tops of hives to limit wind-induced topless-ness.
    • Plant trees for future nectar/pollen sources (tulip poplar, maple, sourwood, etc.).
    • Consider closing off screened bottom board to improve heat insulation.

December Blooms & Doin’s

Plant NameScientific NameStarts# DaysEnds
More nothin’…
  • Events to Consider:
  • Monthly Hive Inspection:
    • Combine hives that are weak/have failing queens.
    • Feed thick syrup if needed (i.e., if not more than one super of honey stored up).
    • Consider insulating smaller hives (those with 4 or fewer frames of bees).
    • Sell honey to Christmas gift shoppers.
    • Do a Year-End-Review & Assessment of your apiary’s successes and challenges.
    • Leave bees alone, if possible. (Take a break— you probably need it by now!)