Understanding the Beekeeping Cycle

It’s important for new beekeepers to understand the beekeeping cycle. This topic came about as I had been perusing a book on cattle and came across a paragraph on the subject of ‘the cattle cycle’. The book is a gift for a family member, who has been raising cattle now for several decades now.

Beekeeping follows the cycles of the season. This is especially important for new beekeepers to learn and understand. The cycles differ from region to region in the country. I will only be talking about how the cycle runs for our region in NE Kansas.

Fall/Winter Activity

September to January can be considered the beginning of the new beekeeping year for the colony. The prosperity of hive depends greatly on the condition of the colony during this time of year. Diminishing colony population, beginning in late summer, along with the reduction of food sources – incoming nectar (carbo-hydrates) & pollen (protein) causes a reduction in brood-rearing. Bees born during this time of year will be the younger, longer-lived bees to carry the colony through to the next year.

I like to call this reduction the ‘period of decline’ in the beekeeping season.

As the temperatures begin to lower, the bees come together and form a cluster. They will break and fly on days of sun and when the temperature climbs to the lower 50′s (F) and  higher.  The more the temps drop, the tighter the cluster will form with the outer layer of bees in the cluster becoming tightly compressed, insulating the bees on the inside of the cluster. Clusters expand and contract with the rise and fall of day and night-time temperatures. In warming periods, when possible, the colony cluster will break and shift positions to maintain contact with combs containing honey and food resources.

Colony strength in winter usually depends on the amount of food stores and the population of younger bees that would have been produced in the fall. An ample supple of pollen & honey for winter with a healthy population of younger bees produced in the fall generally means a higher spring population.

Spring Activity

The “period of growth” for the colony starts in mid-January in our area with the lengthening of the daylight, which I’ve seen by an increase in egg-laying by the queen. The new brood is not significant at first but aids in the beginning of the replacement of bees that have already died during the winter. Older bees will continue to die off but the younger bees from the new brood rearing cycle will begin their replacement.

New sources of food from the Maples, which usually bloom in mid- to late February will kick the colony into higher gear for the stimulation of rearing brood.


Updates on this discussion will follow in the near future (posted 1*21*2014)

Thoughts on 2013-2014 Over-wintering in 3 deeps…

Overland Park, KS and surrounding area..

This year, I am over-wintering each of my bee colonies in 3 deeps or 2 deeps and a medium honey super. I decided to do this earlier in the summer of 2013. I will post pictures and blog on the progress. So far, I’m grateful for not having the worry to need to look after for feed. All hives were treated organically for mites in July/August 2013 and populations looked great in October 2013.

The issues of honey bee survival are complex. The weather from year to year is not exact nor consistent. Rather than continue to worry about the volume of colony size going into fall/winter and amount of honey stores, I decided to treat for mites in a timely manner-at their peak population and let the colonies hive with additional resources of naturally stored honey and pollen, as well as space for a larger colony population.

Only time will tell me next early spring as winter losses are not really discernible until after the fact. The presence of mites is certainly a factor as a stressor. The survivors should come out with lots of bees, left over stores of honey and pollen so I won’t have to worry about checking for feed and stimulation. Colonies with large populations will be ready for splitting in early April when I should be able to get queen cell production in high gear.

This was my plan for 2013 and those are my hopes for 2014.

3 Deep Langstroth colonies 2013

On a side note, it appears that I will be accepting 6-8 colonies for the Kansas Honey Producers’ Association state hives. The honey production from these colonies is used to supply our honey sales and promotion at the Kansas State Fair each September.

Stay tuned for updates regarding the KHPA state hives.

Mother Earth News Fair in Kansas

Community Spotlight

This is a Big Event!


Each year the MOTHER EARTH NEWS brings their magazine to life with the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIRS. For the first time ever, the fair will be coming to our region – October 12 and 13 in Lawrence, KS. The weekend features dozens of hands on workshops and demonstrations.

Lawrence, Kan. | Watson Park | Oct. 12-13, 2013

Letter from the Mayor of Lawrence
About the Venue
List of Exhibitors
List of Workshops and Speakers
Workshop Schedule
Apply to Exhibit
Help Out at the FAIR

 Lawrence, Kan.

Events Calendar

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR  |  Saturday & Sunday |  October 12 & 13  |  9 a.m. – 7 p.m.  |  Watson Park  |  727 Kentucky St., Lawrence, KS  | The MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIRS are family-oriented, sustainable lifestyle events, packed with hands-on workshops and demonstrations on renewable energy, small-scale farming, green building, organic gardening and more!  |  Learn more


Kansas City’s Urban Grown Farm Tours

In the excitement leading up to our own Cultivate Kansas City’s Urban Grown Farms & Gardens Tour this June 2013, I’d like to post this information on:

Urban Garden Beekeeping

         Urban gardens are great locations for keeping honeybees as they increase the opportunity for the number of beneficial garden pollinators. They also provide and additional source of local whole food.

Small-scale urban beekeeping contributes to the protection of our vital ecosystem. Keeping bees in an urban garden setting is a small but hugely significant way for a community garden to contribute to the diversity, health, and sustainability of our food growing system. It’s a huge way for a small group of people to make a difference on a big environmental issue. If your community garden wants to host honeybees, you can either (1) Arrange with a local beekeeper to place and maintain a hive or two in the garden, or (2) Start a hive to be maintained by the gardeners themselves.

If you are considering beekeeping for your community garden, may I suggest the following guidelines for starting a honeybee hive:

  • Maintain good relations within the garden and with the surrounding neighborhood.
  • Research any beekeeping ordinance that might apply to your garden.
  • Meet the owner of the property where your garden is located in order to get approval to place a hive there.
  • Determine if your garden is a good place for a beehive
  • Decide the best place to put the hive in the community garden.

One or more gardeners should be selected to manage the beehives in the community garden. They are responsible for making sure the hive is maintained properly and for removing the hive, if necessary.  When in doubt, review other Municipalities as a guideline. Some are actually pretty good.


 TITLE 06 – Animals

6.14 Beekeeping


It’s a simple goal: to improve stock for local conditions in the North-eastern Kansas area.

What is needed is to teach how to raise queens; how to graft larvae; learn the principals of selecting stock breeding.

All that we are attempting is to trick the bees in making new queens.

What I do afterwards is transporting ripe queen cells and placing them where I intend to use and need them.

Record keeping is an important part of queen rearing and for the distribution of queens. Not least among the problems in this, is in actually getting information on the queens afterwards. Notes on introduction, colony behavior and performance with the new queens are the basics of what are required to allow meaningful assessment to be made. From past experience many beekeepers just don’t observe their colonies with a view to recording what they see, and it is difficult to see where you’re going if you are not looking. We live in hope.

In our craft it is the norm for us beekeepers to work alone with their bees. In this project, where the planning and practical work is shared with others, one has the feeling we are participating in something really worthwhile and of real value to beekeeping in the area, that we are doing rather than talking. The enthusiasm of everyone involved in this project has been excellent, and I know I am not alone in looking forward to the next beekeeping season with keen anticipation.

Italian Honey Bee

Italian beesApis mellifera ligustica - Originally from Italy, this is by far the most popular honey bee and is the default bee that most beekeepers use. Italian bees are yellow in color, relatively gentle, overwinter well and build up quickly in spring. They are easily provoked to rob weaker neighboring colonies and sometimes exhaust honey stores rapidly in winter.

Pros and Cons of the Italian Honey Bee honey bee
Pros Cons
  • Good beginner bee
  • Excellent comb builders
  • Only moderate tendency to swarm
  • Relatively easy and calm to work with
  • Resistant to European Foul Brood
  • Strong cleaning behavior
  • Lower range propolis producer
  • Great comb bulders
  • Continous brood rearing continues after honey flow ceases
  • More likely to starve during long winters as they tend to exhaust honey stores
  • Poor flight orientation, highly prone to drifting
  • Aggressive foragers, causing tendency to rob

Carniolan Honey Bee

Carniolan beesApis mellifera carnica - These bees originated in the Austrian Alps, northern Yugoslavia and the Danube valley. Gray/brown in color, they are extremely gentle, conserve winter food stores well and build up quickly in spring. Carniolan bees construct new comb slowly and swarm frequently.

Pros and Cons of the Carniolan honey bee
Pros Cons
  • Earlier morning forager
  • Forages on colder and wetter days than most other bees
  • Overwinters well on small stores, as queen stops laying in the fall
  • Explosive build up in early spring
  • Exceptionally gentle and easy to work
  • May interrupt brood rearing during times of drought
  • Does not typically propolize heavily
  • Creates less brace and burr comb
  • Crosses well with other varieties
  • Likely to swarm unless carefully managed
  • If pollen is scarce brood rearing greatly diminishes


Buckfast Honey Bee

Apis Mellifera: hybrid
Brother Adam at the Buckfast Abbey in England crossed a great many races of bees with the British bee in hopes of creating a superior breed. The results are what is now know as the Buckfast Bee.

Pros and Cons of the Buckfast honey bee
Pros Cons
  • Highly Tracheal Mite Tolerant
  • Extremely gentle, with low sting instinct
  • Resistant to Chalkbrood
  • Low swarm instinct
  • Overwinters exceptionally well
  • Well suited to cool, wet climates
  • Not widely available
  • Builds up slowly in spring
  • Poor early spring pollinators

Africanized Honey Bee

Africanized honey beeApis mellifera scutellata and its hybrids
This bee originated from Africa.

Pros Cons
  • Resistant to Mites
  • Low swarm instinct
  • Well suited to warm, dry
  • Very defensive
  • High swarm instinct
  • Does not overwinter well

NEKBA Annual Bee Fun Day

Upcoming Activities

 June 2013 Fun day Meeting

Saturday, June 1st  2013, 8:45 am until 5:00 pm

Douglas County Fairgrounds – just north on Harper Street and K-10 Hwy

Northeastern Kansas Beekeeper’s Funday

Saturday, June 1st, 2013 Registration: 7:45-8:45, Program 8:45-5:00

Douglas County Fairgrounds, 2110 Harper, Lawrence KS

Fee includes lunch, beverages, snacks, homemade honey ice cream, and a full day of fun!

Bring your hat & veil—we’ll be working through some hives

Cost: $30.00 per person for those pre-registered, $35.00 at the door.                           Walk-ins are welcome! We do appreciate pre-registrations as this helps with our planning for lunch and seating availability. For those pre-registered, by May 25th, there will be a drawing at the end of the event to reimburse 1 (one) pre-registered person for their registration!    Children ages 6-18, $15.00 for those pre-registered, $17.50 at the door.

For those pre-registered (post marked), by May 25th, there will be a drawing at the end of the event to reimburse 1 (one) pre-registered person for their registration!

Click the following links (below) for information and registration. You can mail, if there is time. If not, print, complete, and bring it with you. See you in Lawrence, KS!

NEKBA Fun Day Flyer 2013     NEKBA Fun Day Registration 2013  

NEKBA Fun Day 2013 Schedule * Subject to change

Visit our website at nekba.org for other club information


Good Beekeeping – Good Fellowship

SINCE 1903

Exploring the wonderful world of beekeeping together.


(A state association or club)

The KHP association is a not-for-profit IRC 501(c)5 agricultural-educational organization; run by dedicated volunteers; supported primarily by membership dues (subscriptions). The IRC status means that the association is a tax-exempt organization. While donations are always welcome, they are not tax deductible as a charitable contribution but membership dues and subscriptions may be deductible as ordinary and necessary business expenses.


Kansas Honey Producers Fall Meeting Information
Friday & Saturday October 18th & 19th, 2013
Very Important Changes 

Our room rate at the Capitol Plaza is $79.00 a night.  Reservations must be made by Thursday, September 26th.  You can either call (800) 579-7937 (please mention that you are part of Kansas Honey Producers Association or group code KHPA) or you can follow the links below.

Reservations can be made online at www.capitolplazahoteltopeka.com Click on “Reservations” and you will be redirected to reservations page. Select “Groups” to continue booking. The attendee code for the discounted rate is HONEY. Once the code is entered, you will be able to select the dates and book your reservation. OR, call the hotel directly at (800) 579-7937 (please mention you are part of Kansas Honey Producers Association or group code KHPA).

Our guest speaker will be Dr. Larry Connor owner of WicWas Press.  Larry is a monthly contributor to both the American Bee Journal and Bee Culture magazines.  Over the last few years he has written many new books for beekeepers: Bee Essentials – a Field Guide, Increase Essentials, Bee Sex Essentials and Queen Rearing Essentials.  Larry has been a guest speaker in the past and has been very well received.  He will also be setting up a booth and selling his books and those of other authors.


Other guest speakers will be Becky Sullivan from the Kansas Dept. of Agriculture Promotions board. Our friend Frank Gieringer will talk to us about Agritourism.  Member Robert Burns has agreed to give a presentation on his recent trip to Germany.  During that trip he visited several beekeepers and attended a beekeepers meeting!  On Friday Tim Tyson from KDA Weights and Measures is presenting and so is Adam Inman who will talk to us about planning a certified kitchen and when you need one.   Our favorite Kansan, Dr. Chip Taylor from KU, has also agreed to speak but he can’t decide what he wants to talk about!!

For dinner on Friday we are planning something a little different.  I have rented a building, the Garden House, 3720 SE Yacht Ct. Topeka KS at Lake Shawnee for us to have our dinner.  We will have a catered BBQ and a mead tasting.  Those of you who make mead are invited to share some of your favorites.  Cups will be provided.  Also since we can’t take our own food into the hotel we will not be having a honey cooking contest.  But members are invited to bring their favorite dessert to share—it you don’t want to bring dessert but would rather bring an appetizer you may do that.

Thursday Evening,

8:00 pm Board Meeting, Capitol Plaza Hotel, Topeka Amber Room

Friday, October 18th, Emerald I & II 

8:00am-8:45    Registration & Silent Auction Set up

8:45-9:00         Welcome, President Steve Tipton

9:00-9:45         Making and Wintering Nuclei Hives, Dr. Larry Connor Presents

9:45-10:30       Leveraging Kansas   Simply Kansas has been re-vamped to From the Land of Kansas ™- the original name of the state’s agricultural trademark program. She will also talk about other opportunities to promote your products.  Becky Sullivan, Kansas Department of Agriculture Promotions Board Presents.

10:30-10:45     Break

10:45-11:30     Labeling Requirements for Kansas & what Beekeepers need to know about Weights and Measures. Tim Tyson, director or Kansas Department of Weights and Measures Presents

11:30-12:15     Certified Kitchens-What are the Requirements and Do you need one? Adam Inman, Kansas Department of Agriculture, Assistant Program Director Presents

12:15-1:15       Lunch, Emerald III-V

1:15-2:30         Dr. Chip Taylor—Topic to be announced

2:30-3:15         Small Scale Queen Rearing, Dr. Larry Conner presents

3:15-3:30         Break, end silent auction at the end of the break

3:30-4:15         Making your Entries for the State Fair Winners—from this year’s Grand Champion, Kristi Sanderson

4:15-4:45         The History of the State Fair and Its Importance to the Kansas Honey Producers, Gary Ross Presents

6:00                 BBQ Dinner, Lake Shawnee, Garden House 3720 SE Yacht Ct. Map will be available at the meeting.  Members are encouraged to bring Mead for tasting and desserts or appetizers.

Saturday, October 19th, Sunflower Ballroom

8:00-8:30         Registration & Silent Auction Set-up

8:30-8:40         President Steve Tipton, announcements

8:40-9:25         Activities of Young Adult Bees, Larry Connor Presents

9:25-10:10       Ideas for Gifts from the Hive for the Holidays, Becky Tipton Presents

10:10-10:30     Break

10:30-11:15     Agritourism in Kansas –How We Do It Frank and Mel Gieringer and their family, from Eudora, have a peach orchard, a huge strawberry patch and a blackberry patch.  They also have a U Pick for the fruits and a farm market for their other produce. They are also participants in several farm tours, do a “Feast in the Field” Dinner, several Farmers Markets and promote themselves in several ways, one of which is Facebook!  Frank Gieringer Presents.

11:15-12:00     Beekeeping in Germany  Bob has traveled to Germany many times in his life but on his last visit he attended a beekeepers meeting and visited several beekeepers—he’ll share this experience with us.  Robert Burns Presents.

12:00-1:00       Lunch Sunflower Ballroom

End of Silent Auction at end of lunch

1:00-1:45         Making $500 per Hive per Year, Larry Connor Presents

1:45-2:30         Getting Your Bees Ready for Winter, Feeders and Feeding, Cecil Sweeney Presents

2:30-2:45         Break

2:45-3:30         Art and Design in Beeswax, Rose Lee Presents

3:30-4:15         Two and a Half Hives, A Lesson in Resource Management Larry Connor Presents

4:15                 Business Meeting & Election

Program and speakers subject to change


Other Events that you may be interested in:

 October 12 & 13 Mother Earth News Fair, Lawrence KS Watson Park –this is a big deal!!

 February 28 & March 1, 2014 Friday and Saturday Hays KS KHPA Spring Meeting & Beekeeping Class

 June 7th 2014 Northeast KS Beekeepers Funday Guest speaker, Tom Seeley author of Honeybee Democracy. Lawrence KS