Colony Management was the third session of Spiral Horn Apiary’s Beekeeping Workshop held Saturday, May 18th.  Students explored bee behavior, diseases, nutrition, and advanced management techniques.   Managing honey bee colonies is all about timing your actions with colony conditions.

Timing colony management tasks with a “geographically” pertinent beekeeping activities calendar is a great start.  Preparing requisite equipment (boxes, frames/foundation, feeders, etc) ahead of time allows beekeepers to respond rapidly to increased colony sizes.  A nuc or package installed in April may require an additional brood chamber by the first week in May.  Varroa mite testing / treatments in May are often necessary before honey supers are installed at the end of May.  Feeding hives during dearth periods in July and August requires having protein supplement (see for a great recipe) on hand.  Fall mite treatments and ensuring strong colonies before going into winter helps assure survival rates.

Our Texas beekeeping calendar depicts developmental stages and environmental factors related to honey bees.  Colony management inspections scheduled around these stages of development were discussed and performed during the “hands-on” portion of the class.   Students practiced removing frames, identifying bees (queens, workers, drones), locating swarm cells, and conducting mite tests.  Bees were collected from different areas of the colony for Nosema Ceranae testing in our bee lab.  Colony population dynamics requiring additional supers were discussed within the framework of colony management.

We limit student enrollment in our spring and fall beekeeping classes due to the amount of hands on training during class 2, 3, and 4 of the workshop.  Colony Management and Hive Products seem to be the most enjoyable as most beginning beekeeper anxieties are often alleviated during these two sessions.