BeekeepingWhen Is The Best Time Of Year To Start Beekeeping?

When Is The Best Time Of Year To Start Beekeeping?

With more and more people interested in harvesting their own honey and the joys that come with raising and caring for bees, beekeeping is more popular than ever. Still, starting beekeeping is not an easy task. Most beekeepers keep bees year-round. But what is the best time of year to start beekeeping? When should you do it? I had the same problem before I started, let me share with you what I’ve learned.

What Is The Best Time Of Year To Start Beekeeping?

In most places, the best time to start beekeeping is spring, but that may vary from month to month depending on your climate zone. When the cold or rainy season is over and the flowers begin to bloom, you should try to start beekeeping. Keep in mind that while bees become active in spring, you need to prepare for spring earlier, most likely starting in fall.

The best time to actually move the bees into the hive depends on where you live and the environment. For example, in the United States, there is a wide range of climate zones between the east and west coasts. While the eastern states experience hot, humid summers and cold, dry winters, the southwestern states can stay warm to hot year-round. Unlike winter and summer, tropical regions have rainy and dry seasons.

I think moving bees into your hive is the official start of your exciting and fun beekeeping journey.

Yes, it is usually done in the spring. But even before spring begins, there are a lot of things to consider so you can get off to a good start.

What Do You Need To Do Before Spring Arrives?

OK, so we agree that we should start our hives in the spring, but when do we start preparing? What must we do beforehand? I started in the fall and am glad I did. There’s still a lot to do before the long-awaited spring arrives:

  1. Learning – if you don’t like learning, you better love it! Beekeeping can be a great hobby or source of income, but success is closely tied to what you know and how much effort you put into continuing your studies. So, before spring arrives, be sure to grab a beekeeping book, take an online class, and get in touch with your local beekeeper association to get ready to start your journey
  2. Find a location for your hive – decide where you will place your hive and whether your bees can use flowers, water and anything else they need to hive
  3. Check with your neighbors – once you decide where to place your hive, let your neighbors know. Usually, people love bees, but be sure to let them know because your bees are bound to fly into your neighbor’s territory
  4. Order tools – one hive and one colony are not enough. You’ll need at least a beekeeper kit, some gloves and a bee tool So, before spring, find out what tools you need and make sure you get them.

When Should You Order Your Bees?

Bees must be ordered no later than January or February to have them shipped to you by early April. Depending on when they actually arrive, you may need to feed them until May, when the bees can venture out of the hive and hunt for pollen for themselves.

Ordering bees in January or February is crucial for one simple reason – the bee sellers run out quickly! So if you decide to order bees in April or May, it may be too late. Chances are you can find a colony to buy, but don’t bet on it. If you’re buying a colony, you need to make sure you’re buying from a trusted source, not just someone who happens to own a space colony.

How Is Bee Behavior Affected By Temperature And Season?

Bees, like humans (at least most of us) are social animals that live in groups, and a hive will contain thousands of bees! As they protect themselves from predators, avoid starvation, and function in nature, bees face multiple dangers in both cold and hot climates. Their behavior is also constantly influenced by ambient temperature, from courtship to brooding and foraging, and changes with the seasons.

Spring is the time when bees are most active. Sensing the warmer weather, they venture out of their hives and travel hundreds of miles to collect pollen and nectar to make honey. They store this honey in special honeycomb cells to feed themselves and their larvae.

Spring is also when hive numbers are at their peak. The mating season usually occurs between April and May and involves a 6-16 day old queen bee flying through the air. During their flight, hundreds of male bees chase them, hoping to fertilize the queen and pass on their genes.

During the summer, stocks remain stable and then slowly decrease due to heat and the individual health of the bees. While queen bees can live up to four years, worker bees born during the busiest time of the year only live about six weeks. As autumn approaches, when food supplies may be reduced and the weather turns cold, drones will be driven out of hives because they can no longer reproduce!

During winter, any remaining worker bees join the queen bee to keep her warm and well fed. Any larvae the queen produces during this time will actually last four to six months! Their longer lifespan than their spring-born counterparts is due to their larger size and higher blood protein content. Nature designed them to keep the queen warm more efficiently!

What Dangers Do Bees And Beekeepers Face In Hot, Humid And Cold Climates?

While winter can be particularly harsh for bees and not a good time to start beekeeping, a healthy colony will still thrive with the help of a beekeeper. Some breeders choose to move the entire hive to an indoor shed, while others isolate the hive and hope for the best results. If there is no snowstorm coming, bees sniffing in the nest need only worry about mites (varroa mites), predators and starvation due to the initial lack of food supply.

But bees are not only at risk of life-threatening danger in winter. Heat and humidity in the tropics also reduce their numbers. For example, heat build-up in the hive increases the queen bee’s metabolism and reproductive rate. This only exacerbates the crowded hive conditions and heat, starting a downward spiral. Usually, when this happens, a small fraction of the colony establishes a new queen and swarms into a new hive.

This can be counteracted by constantly providing the bees with water, which they spit into the hive to cool their home. They also congregate outside the hive so that their home can be ventilated and cooled. This process is called “bearding” because it actually looks as if the hive has “whiskers”!

Further Questions

Can I start beekeeping in winter? It is highly recommended not to start your hive in winter as the chances of your new colony surviving are very low. If for some reason you really need to start beekeeping in the winter, make sure your hives are in an indoor shed, possibly with a heating system. Make sure you also provide a food source for your bees and that the hive is ventilated. Check bees frequently to check on their health and seek help from local beekeepers if needed.

Honeybees have survived for thousands of years without the care of human keepers. So I think it’s safe to say that a cold won’t kill a healthy hive. By this time, however, the bees should have established themselves in their environment, with the queen and worker bees huddled together and a new brood of larvae ready to hatch in the spring. In places with cold winters, this can only be ensured by starting beekeeping in the spring. For other places, that means temperatures hovering around 60 degrees Fahrenheit any time of the year, which is pretty mild.

Expectations and good luck for the first year!

When it comes to what to expect in your first year, don’t expect to start harvesting a lot of honey right away, use the year to learn as much as you can, enjoy the experience, and help your bees become a strong colony.

I hope my post sheds light on when is the best time to start beekeeping and what you need to do to prepare for it. As always, if you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment below or contact me using the contact form.

Hello, I am Behadir K!

I am a beekeeper. I have spent hours reading literature about bees, their features, their hard work and the valuable role they play in nature and the people. I want to familiarize the people all around the globe with the beautiful world of bees. I also wish to help raise awareness about these small creatures that help us in saving our planet.

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Behadir Kadric
Behadir Kadric
I am a beekeeper. I have spent hours reading literature about bees, their features, their hard work and the valuable role they play in nature and the people. I want to familiarize the people all around the globe with the beautiful world of bees. I also wish to help raise awareness about these small creatures that help us in saving our planet.