Title: A Florida Beekeeping Almanac
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Title: A Florida Beekeeping Almanac
Series Title: A Florida Beekeeping Almanac
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Language: English
Creator: Sanford, Malcolm T. (Malcolm Thomas)
Publisher: Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
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HISTORIC NOTE


The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source
(EDIS)

site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.






Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
of Florida













A Florida Beekeeping Almanac1


Malcolm T. Sanford2


The purpose of this almanac is to help beekeepers
make better management decisions. It is a guide to
beekeeping in a specific area, the state of Florida.
Any discussion of bee management should include
reference to geographic location, because major
diff ri ncs in procedures and timing are often
necessary even in adjacent counties. This almanac is
generalized, and gives the beekeeper the flexibility to
work out many of the specifies to suit his own
situation.

Above all else the beekeeper must be a good
manager. Management, in fact, is all a beekeeper can
hope to do to influence the size of a honey crop. It
is the "art" of managing a colony and apiary that sets
a master beekeeper apart. This knowledge comes
only from hard experience, mostly learning by doing
with a high risk of failure. In spite of the fact that
beekeeping is made to look simple in many popular
articles and books on the subject, it is perhaps more
difficult to be successful in beekeeping than in other
forms of agriculture. This is because of the number
of variables over which the beekeeper has little or no
control. At times, it seems that management in
beekeeping is little more than a guessing game.

The better beekeeper more often than not has the
better "guessing" record. He learns literally to "think
like a honey bee colony," developing vague or
instinctive feelings about when manipulation is
necessary, rather than adhering to a rigid time table.
In order to do this, the beekeeper must constantly be
an experimenter. A good beekeeper is conservative,
however, when attempting something different, and
tries techniques on a small scale before committing
their use to his total operation.


KEEPING RECORDS

One of the best aids in managing honey bees is a well-
kept record system. Many beekeepers keep individual
records of each colony over the season by using a code of
sticks, stones or other objects strategically placed on the
tops of colonies. Unfortunately, these are temporary at best
and cannot be referred to in subsequent years. A more
permanent system uses either notes on cards or a log book.
The kind of information recorded may include the number
identifying a specific colony in a bee yard, the present and
past location of the colony, when the queen was introduced,
and whether she's marked or clipped.

Each time the colony is inspected, additional
observations can be recorded such as the quality and
quantity of brood, presence of eggs, larvae or pupae,
condition of the queen, and temper of the colony.

Individual records can be any size, although index card
size appears to be favored by most. The easier the system
is to handle in the field, the more record keeping will be
facilitated. This publication includes suggested format for
an individual record card (page 14). Sometimes cards are
directly attached to a colony, whereas in other systems the
card refers to a number on the colony and is kept at the
beekeeper's headquarters.

A more general notation of observations at each
location is also valuable information. Information such as
what plants are blooming and when, general weather
conditions, temper of bees, and whether nectar or pollen are
being collected, all add to a beekeeper's overall knowledge
of the location. This information can be collected and
summarized into a yearly calendar and used to compare
differences between years. A valuable addition to the above
information is data from a scale colony in the location
recording colony weight changes throughout the year.


1. This document was published May 1985 as Circular 537, Florida Cooperative Extension Service. For more information, contact your county
Cooperative Extension Service office.
2. Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer authorized to provide research, educational
information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, or national origin.
Florida Cooperative Extension Service / Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences / University of Florida / John T. Woeste, Dean







A Florida Beekeeping Almanac


Although production records are vital to any
beekeeping operation, they only tell part of the story.
Financial record keeping is becoming more and more
important whether the beekeeper has thousands or only a
few colonies. Fluctuating interest rates, fuel costs and
inflation are responsible for price hikes in everything from
sugar for feeding to wooden ware. These economic
changes, in the face of only modest increases in honey
prices, mean smaller and smaller profit margins for
beekeepers.
In the end, a "sharp pencil" can many times mean much
more to an operation than effort expended in producing a
few extra supers of honey. A suggested financial record
keeping system, designed especially for beekeepers by Drs.
W. J. Gomerjac and R. A. Luening, Cooperative Extension
Service, University of Wisconsin, is found in Appendix 1.

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF FLORIDA

Florida can roughly be divided into two areas, a north
and western (panhandle) section and a southern peninsula.
There is about a six degree latitude difference between the
extreme north and southern tip of the state which accounts
for about an hour and a half photoperiod (day length)
difference.
The length of day in Florida is advantageous for beekeeping
and agriculture in general, for the sun shines longer in the
winter and shorter in the summer than in more temperate
regions. The state also spans several climatic zones and
temperate, subtropical and true tropical conditions all
prevail in parts of Florida.

Florida has about 8,700 miles of coastline and no
interior part is over 70 miles from the ocean. This
proximity to water moderates extremes in temperature
throughout the year. In addition, sizeable areas of water
and low-lying swamp (about 4,400 square miles) exist in
Florida which may also greatly influence local climatic
conditions.

Elevations in Florida rise to about 300 feet in the
panhandle, but most of the central portion of the peninsula
is only 50 to 100 feet above sea level. These gentle
gradients sometimes prevent rapid rainfall runoff and
localized flooding can occur.

CLIMATE

Florida is known as the "sunshine state" and the sun
shines about two-thirds of the possible daylight hours each
year. As such, Florida is characterized by long, warm and
humid summers. Extreme continental heatwaves, however,
are usually absent due to shorter days, constant sea breezes
and frequent thundershowers. The average maximum
temperature in July ranges from 92F (33C) in the north to


88F (31C) in the south (Fig. 1). Temperatures over 100F
(370C) are not unusual for north Florida, but are rare in the
central and southern portion of the state. Bee colonies are
affected by heat in several ways. Warm air is able to
absorb more moisture from ripening nectar than is cooler
air. The brood nest cannot tolerate temperature much above
95F (350C) and, therefore, in extremely hot weather, the
bees bring water into the colony to evaporate for cooling
the brood nest. Protecting colonies from the hot summer
sun may be advisable when selecting locations, although
there is evidence to suggest bees become more defensive in
the shade.

The winters are considered mild in most parts of
Florida. The average January minimum temperature for
example, ranges from 420F (60C) in the north to 640F (180C)
in the south (Fig. 2). The maximum January temperatures
range from 660F (190C) in the north to 760F (240C) in the
south (Fig. 3). This means that honey bees are able to fly
almost any time of year. As a consequence, food
consumption can be significantly greater during winter in
comparison to more temperate areas where bees are
confined in the hive for long periods with minimal food
requirements.

Although winters are not severe, cold waves in Florida
can be frequent. Their patterns of occurrence are
influenced by cold air from the northern United States and
Canada. No place in the state appears to be free from frost
danger, even though the average number of frost-free days
ranges from 240 in the panhandle to 365 in the Keys (Fig.
4). Average dates for the last frost in the spring range
from January 29 in the south to March 15 in the north (Fig.
5). The range for the first freeze in the fall is from
December 10 in the south to November 15 in the north
(Fig. 6).


Page 2







A Florida Beekeeping Almanac


When frost does occur, it is usually on the second night
of a cold wave after frontal winds have died and clear
nights promote rapid heat loss to the atmosphere.
Microclimate (localized climatic conditions) plays an
important part in frost damage to both vegetation and honey
bees. Depressions are especially prone to frost, for cold,
dense air can collect in low spots resulting in lowering the
temperature a few more critical degrees than on surrounding
hillsides. It is often recommended, therefore, that bee
colonies not be placed in low areas.

Warm periods between frosts are also sometimes
damaging to vegetation and honey bees. Warm weather can
stimulate plants to send tender shoots forth or bees to rear
a marginal amount of brood, both of which may be
damaged by the next cold wave.

Although no part of Florida lies strictly in the tropics
(below latitude 23 1/2oN; the Tropic of Cancer), much of
the state is characterized by distinct tropical wet and dry
seasons corresponding to high and low sun periods
respectively. In north Florida and the panhandle, minor
rainfall peaks also occur in the spring and winter.

Average annual rainfall in the north part of the state
ranges from 64" in the panhandle to 52 on the east coast.
The driest area is extreme south Florida with an average of
40" (Fig. 7). More than half the


state's rainfall usually occurs in the period April to
September (Fig. 8). Precipitation however, can be quite
sporadic, generally in the form of thundershowers, and it
may be that one part of the state suffers drought while
another has too much rain. Many areas have recorded
almost 80 inches of precipitation in one year, and most have
experienced at least one season with less than 40". Intense
rains may accompany tropical storms and hurricanes. The
record rainfall for a 24 hour period during a hurricane was
at Yankeetown in 1958, a staggering 38.7 inches! The
chances of hurricane force winds in any given year, usually
accompanied by torrential downpours, differs with location
in Florida, and ranges from 1 in 100 in Jacksonville to 1 in
6 at Miami (Table 1).

Precipitation patterns are extremely important in
agriculture. The unpredictability of rainfall in Florida has
caused many farmers to rely on irrigation, while at the same
time, having to construct facilities to remove excess water
from fields. No agricultural crops are grown strictly for
honey bees in Florida, but the bees forage on many kinds
of fruit and vegetables. So bees do sometimes benefit from
irrigation and water removal systems. Most bee forage,
however, is feral in nature and thus vulnerable to variation
in rainfall. Plants need access to moisture in order to
secrete nectar which is often over 70% water. Too much
water, on the other hand, is a real threat to bee colonies.
Flooding can block the hive entrance,


Figure I


Mean Maximum
Temperature [F]
July


Mean Minimum
Temperature [F]
January


Page 3


Figure 2







A Florida Beekeeping Almanac


reduce the air supply and suffocate the bees in a very short
time. It is usually recommended, therefore, that bee yards
not be located in prime flash flood areas and that during
tropical storms, colonies be monitored and moved to higher
ground if necessary.

Florida's climate is characterized as humid. Humidity
varies little from place to place and is lower (50% to 65%)
in the afternoon when the sun is usually shining than
evening or early morning (85% to 95%). It is known that
a relative humidity of 50% (when the air contains half the
moisture it can possibly hold at a specific temperature) is
required for honey bee eggs to hatch. In addition, humid
air absorbs less moisture, creating more work for a bee
colony which must evaporate excess water from nectar in
the honey-making process.


Figure 4


Mean Maximum
Temperature [F]
January



Figure 3


A--A Killing frost liable annually

No record of killing frost below B--B






FLORIDA

Average Number of Days
Without Killing Frost


I'


Page 4







A Florida Beekeeping Almanac


BEE BOTANY

Every beekeeper should know some botany, for without
the right plants to secrete nectar, no honey would be
produced even from a well-managed colony. Often
publications listing plants that produce good supplies of
nectar and pollen provide the beekeeper with little
information about where they might be found or what
influences their nectar production. Little is known about
the latter because so many variables can come into play in
any one season. Over long periods of time, experience has
become the best teacher in determining what areas are
superior nectar producers. Conditions such as makeup of
the soil, pH (degree of acidity), moisture conditions and
other factors all come into play and serve to explain why
similar plants may produce large quantities of nectar in one
place but not in others.


Florida is characterized by several major land resource
areas largely based on underlying soil associations (Fig. 9).
These can provide a general guide to the beekeeper in
search of nectar sources. The extreme northern and western
(panhandle) parts of the state are dominated by two areas,
(1) the south coastal plain which extends some distance into
Alabama and Georgia, and (2) the north Florida flatwoods.
The principle vegetation mix in both areas is evergreen and
deciduous forest, consisting of long and short leaf pine, oak
and hickory in the uplands; and cypress and gum in poorly
drained areas.

The bee forage in these areas is varied and includes
sourwood, tulip poplar, gallberry, saw palmetto, cabbage
palm, partridge pea and blackberry. Trailing Chinquapin,
flat-topped golden rod, summer farewell, Spanish needles
and Mexican clover may also be found, especially in
disturbed areas.


a0


A--A Killing frost liable annually
B--B Killing frost liable 1/2 the years
C--C Occasional killing frost
No record of killing frost below C--C





FLORIDA
Average Dates of Last
Killing Frost in Spring


0


Figure 5


Page 5







A Florida Beekeeping Almanac


Table 1. Chances of hurricane force winds in any given
year
City Chances

Jacksonville 1 in 100
Daytona Beach 1 in 50
Melboure-Vero Beach 1 in 20
Palm Beach 1 in 7
Miami 1 in 6
Key West 1 in 8
Fort Myers 1 in 11
Tampa-St. Petersburg 1 in 25
Apalachicola-St. Marks 1 in 17
Pensacola 1 in 8

Source: Climates of the States, Climatography of the United States No.
60-8, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 1968.


Other nectar and pollen sources include white and black
(summer) ti-ti, crimson clover, red maple and willow. The
Apalachicola river area supports one of Florida's best
known nectar sources, the white tupelo or ogeechee tree.
The principal kinds of agriculture found in these areas are
cattle pastureage and forest-based (naval stores) interspersed
with upland forage crops like corn, soybeans and peanuts.

The central Florida Ridge is an area of deep, well-
drained soils of low natural fertility which supports the
major citrus industry of the state. Citrus is a major
cultivated bee forage plant, and one of the best nectar
sources in the state. The original vegetation of this area
was forests of mixed hardwood and pine on upland soils in
the north and long leaf pine and turkey oak in the central
section. Many of the plants found in both southern coastal
plain and north Florida Flatwoods are also found here, but
are


Figure 6


NOV. 15
NOV. 20


DEC. 20


A--A Killing frost liable annually
B--B Killing frost liable 1/2 the time
C--C Occasional killing frost

No record of killing frost below C--C


FLORIDA
Average Dates of First
Killing Frost in Fall


c -----
C-

b*


Page 6







A Florida Beekeeping Almanac


often limited in distribution due to large-scale agriculture.
Gopher apple, prairie sunflower, Nutall's thistle and
buttonbush are all found in central and south peninsular
Florida and are reliable although minor sources of nectar.
Some cultivated plants in the area besides citrus may also
provide limited nectar and pollen such as loquats, kumquats,
watermelons and other cucurbits (squash and cucumber).

The central and south Florida Flatwoods lie south of
the soil temperature line (Fig. 9), where average soil
temperature at 20 inches (50 em) exceeds 72F (22C), and
surround the Central Florida Ridge. Often surface drainage
is poor in the flatwoods, and underlying hardpan in some
areas prevents free water movement upward or downward,
making drought and flooding more damaging. Here
longleaf pine prevails, but an understory of small shrubs,
some of which are excellent nectar sources, also exists.


Figure 8


Mean Annual
Precipitation (in)







Figure 7


0"


FLORIDA

Average Warm-Season
Precipitation (inches)
(April to September, inclusive)


Page 7







A Florida Beekeeping Almanac


In swampy locations, cypress and gum predominate.
The bee forage is dominated by saw palmetto, cabbage
palm and gallberry, all major nectar sources. In the
southern portion of the flatwoods, introduced plants like
Brazilian pepper and the punk tree (Melaletica) are making
major inroads and are also excellent nectar sources. The
latter may bloom several times a year in some locations,
providing much-needed bee forage early in the year and in
the fall when the bees need it most. Spanish needles and
flat-topped goldenrod are also excellent fall nectar plants
found in the Florida flatwoods. In addition, from about
Hernando county southward, coastal mangrove swamps
exist on the west coast which include white and black
mangrove, the latter a significant nectar producer. This part
of Florida is also known for two minor nectar sources,
pennyroyal and seagrape. Both are not as widespread as
they once were, but still may be good producers in localized
areas.

The soils of the flatwoods are not as suitable for
growing crops as those of the central Florida Ridge. The
agriculture here is mostly livestock and forest-based,
although isolated soils are found which support truck
farming and forage crops like corn.

The Florida Everglades is found south and west of
Lake Okeechobee. This is the major winter vegetable-
growing region in the state where significant amounts of
pole beans, string beans, celery, potatoes, peppers, squash,
watermelons, lettuce and tomatoes are produced. In
addition, tropical crops like sugarcane, avocado, guava,
limes and mango are cultivated. The bee forage here is on
the decline as large-scale agriculture increases, however,
large natural areas still exist where plants like Spanish
needles, clovers, gallberry, saw palmetto and cabbage palm
grow. Again, coastal areas are dominated by mangrove,
and the Brazilian pepper and Metaleuca are also well
established in this area. In general, the honey bees obtain
only small amounts of nectar from the cultivated vegetables
and fruits in this region, but are extremely important in the
pollination of many of these crops.

Although most bee plants are generally associated with
specific land resource areas, they are not necessarily
confined to those regions. Many nectar-producing plants
are statewide in distribution, although certain localized
habitat requirements must be met before they will grow and
secrete nectar.


Perhaps less than ten plants are considered prime
sources of nectar and pollen in Florida, however, many
more contribute to a colony's well-being throughout the
year. Table 2 is a comprehensive list of most plants
important to honey bees, but is by no means exhaustive.

BEE LOCATIONS

Because conditions affecting plants vary from year to
year, it often takes several years to tell whether a certain
bee location is a good one for surplus honey production. A
superior year can be followed by two mediocre ones, and
the site may still merit a superior rating. A three to five
year trial period, therefore, is usually recommended to
determine whether a particular location is good.

Because of this rather long experimental period, it may
benefit beekeepers to spread their colonies around, testing
several locations at one time, rather than having them all in
one place. Often, time spent searching for bee locations
can be shortened by asking experienced beekeepers in the
area what sites they feel are better than others.

PROTECTING BEES FROM PESTICIDES

One of the most important considerations when locating
honey bees is the possibility of the insects being poisoned
by pesticide application. This is especially true when
colonies are located near cultivated crops such as citrus,
blueberries and vegetables. In urban locations, bees may be
poisoned by mosquito control operations.

The beekeeper, therefore, should pay attention to insect
control campaigns and what damage they might do to his
bees. The best rule to follow is to establish communication
with nearby farmers and/or mosquito control districts so you
will be notified before pesticide applications. The key to
protecting bee colonies is prevention, usually possible
through cooperation between the beekeeper and those who
might apply pesticides.

Any questions about pesticide application and its effect
on honey bees should be directed to your county extension
agent. The Florida Cooperative Extension Service publishes
Circular 534, Protecting Honey Bees From Pesticides.


Page 8







A Florida Beekeeping Almanac


BEE POPULATION DYNAMICS

The dynamics of bee population for each colony will
vary based on internal and external conditions. Usually,
egg laying by the queens begins in December, stimulated by
photoperiod, feeding by the beekeeper and/or the blooming
of pollen and nectar-producing plants such as pennyroyal,
red maple and willow. These plants produce a profusion of
pollen important for brood rearing. Later, in March and
April, other plants begin to bloom which produce more
nectar and pollen further stimulating the colony's population
growth.


Ideally, the population of adult bees in a colony should
reach a peak at the same time as nectar production. This is
not always the case, however, and, therefore, the early
nectar flows by citrus or gallberry may be missed. Thus, it
becomes the beekeeper's responsibility in many instances to
artificially stimulate the bees which effectively shifts the
population graph in the calendar to the left. In May and
June, most of the major nectar-producing plants are in
bloom including saw palmetto, cabbage palm and
mangrove.

Mid-summer is generally a time of population decline
for honey bees. Few plants are blooming then in the north
and west portion of the state, although some more tropical
parts may have blooms year round. This is the wet season
of the year, but sometimes there is intermittent drought.


SOIL
TEMPERATURE
LINE


SOUTHERN COASTAL PLAIN


NORTHH Fl I FLAT-




MAJOR LAND RESOURCE AREAS

LEGEND

SOUTHERN COASTAL PLAIN
NORTH FLORIDA FLATWOODS
Gulf Coast Flatwoods
Atlantic Coast Flatwoods
CENTRAL FLORIDA RIDGE
North Central Florida Ridge
South Central Florida Ridge

CENTRAL AND SOUTH FLORIDA
FLATWOODS
Southern Florida Flatwoods
Southern Florida Lowlands

FLORIDA EVERGLADES


A/
449 10


Figure 9


Page 9







A Florida Beekeeping Almanac


Table 2. Some Florida plants from which bees collect either pollen, nectar or both

Pollen Nectar Pollen Nectar
Plant Name Source Source Plant Name Source Source


Bermudagrass
Bitterweed
Blackberry
Blackgum
Blueberry
Buttonbush*
Cajeput (Melaleuca)*
Century plant
Chickweed
Chicory
Chinese tallow
Citrus*
Clovers*
Corn
Cotton
Cottonwood
Cowpea
Cucurbits (watermelon,
cantaloupe, cucumber,
gourds, pumpkin, squash)*

Dandelion*
Dogbane
Elderberry
Gallberry*
Goldenrod*


*Indicates major sources


Grape
Holly
Honeysuckle
Johnsongrass
Laurel cherry
Lilac tree
Lima beans
Locust
Lupine
Mangrove, black*
Mangrove, white
Maple*
Mexican clover*
Milkvetch
Milkweed
Mints
Mustard
Oak

Palms (cabbage palm,
sable palm)*
Partridge pea*
Peach
Pear
Pepperbush (Florida
holly, Brazilian pepper)*


Colonies should be extensively monitored at this time,
for a localized lack of nectar, resulting in starvation of bee
colonies, is a real possibility. In late July and early August,
stimulation by plants such as partridge pea, Mexican clover
and Brazilian pepper causes bee populations to rise
somewhat to coincide with the major nectar flows in the fall
of aster, golden rod, spanish needles, summer farewell,
Melaleuca and Brazilian pepper. At this time, the colony
begins to produce so-called "winter bees," or those which
are physiologically more able to store food reserves in their
bodies during cold weather.


The preceding description is based on a temperate
season. Much of southern Florida, of course, does not have
so distinct a seasonal change. Introduced plants like the
Melaleuca and other native vegetation may in fact bloom
mueh of the year. This causes the peaks and valleys of bee
population shown in the calendar to smooth out
considerably. In the tropics, two seasons prevail, not four.
The beekeeping calendar thus is predicated less on
photoperiod and temperature variation than on moisture
availability. Usually, tropical nectar-producing plants bloom
heavily during the dry season, being more or less dormant
during the rainy season. Southern Florida, therefore,
becomes a gray zone of sorts as far as beekeeping is


Page 10







A Florida Beekeeping Almanac


concerned-somewhere between classical temperate and
tropical conditions which must be accounted for when
making bee management decisions.

SEASONAL BEE MANAGEMENT

The most important inspection of a bee colony is the
one conducted in the spring of each year. By late
December and early January the inspection should be
completed. The beekeeper looks for signs of disease,
pattern of brood (indicating queen quality), population size
and food supply.

Estimating a colony's stores of nectar and pollen is
extremely critical at this time. Even though the insects may
appear to have plenty of stores, they use available food at
a rapid rate this time of year producing brood. Bee
colonies can, therefore, quickly become overextended, and
any delay in blooming or a period of inclement weather can
cause them to starve. If there is any doubt about food
supply, colonies should be regularly monitored through the
spring population buildup until they are actively gathering
nectar and pollen in the field. Should the food supply
diminish they can be fed sugar syrup or dry sugar and
pollen supplement to see them through this critical period.
Many beekeepers also routinely feed bees to accelerate
population buildup in preparation of early flows of gallberry
or citrus.

SWARMING

One of the major problems throughout the buildup
season for beekeepers is swarming. This is the means by
which a bee colony reproduces; about half the bees and the
old queen leave the colony to seek a new home. Swarming
effectively reduces the honey crop because the departing
bees take much of the food supply with them and the
weaker population left in the parent colony cannot produce
the size crop the original population might have.

The urge to swarm becomes more and more powerful
as a honey flow approaches. Much has been written about
controlling swarming, but the best advice is to prevent the
swarming impulse from beginning within a colony. Most
people believe the simplest way to do this is to provide
enough room and ventilation so the bees do not become
overcrowded. This is done by adding supers before they
are needed. It is generally recommended to add supers
when the bees are found covering all existing frames.
Commercial beekeepers may add two or more supers
depending on how soon the next trip to the beeyard is
anticipated.


REQUEENING

At practically any time of year, a honey bee colony can
be requeened in Florida. Some prefer to do this in early
spring, others during the two main nectar flow periods in
early summer and fall. Most beekeepers requeen in the fall,
September being the preferred month. Queens are less
expensive at this time of year; there is sufficient time to
replace a queen that is not accepted; and the process
provides a young queen to produce a large number of
vigorous winter bees and a strong population early the
following spring.

Usually, beekeepers requeen every two years, but no
hard and fast rules exist on the subject. Some never
requeen, preferring instead to let the bees handle this
sometimes "ticklish" task. The major rule to follow in
requeening is to remove the old queen first. After a few
hours a new queen can then be introduced in a malling
cage, by means of a pushin cage or in between two frames
of brood covered by young bees.

WINTERING

The last major inspection of bee colonies occurs in the
fall. The bees usually arrange their winter nest adequately,
but the beekeeper should ensure that the necessary
conditions are met for successful wintering. These include:
no sign of disease, about 80 pounds of honey, three frames
of pollen and seven frames of brood covered by adult bees.

Because honey bees remain active in Florida for much
of the cold season, the beekeeper must constantly monitor
colonies for stores and be prepared to feed his bees if
necessary. Ventilation is extremely important to honey bee
colonies during winter. The warm air a colony produces is
often saturated with moisture. If this air is trapped within
a colony, the moisture may condense inside the beehive
which is bad for the insects and provides an excellent
medium for microorganism growth. In most cases, proper
ventilation may be accomplished by propping up covers or
drilling holes above the hand holds.

STARTING SMALL THE KEY TO SUCCESS

In summary, the purpose of this almanac is to provide
a guide to making management decisions in the art and
science of beekeeping. It in no way, however, can take the
place of knowledge and experience gained in the field by
actually keeping honey bees. For the beginner, this means
starting small and only contemplating increasing the size
and scope of the beekeeping operation as the necessary
experience is gained. For advanced beekeepers, this means
changing established management procedures slowly by


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A Florida Beekeeping Almanac Page 12


experimenting with only a few colonies until new ideas are
proven effective in a particular beekeeping operation.

Perhaps the best advice, therefore, that can be given to
all beekeepers is to be like bees themselves, extremely
conservative. For it is only due to this that these insects
have been able to adapt and survive so well over the last 70
million years.




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