Now that you have harvested honey and the bees have been tucked away for winter, it is a great time to review the season while your memory is still fresh. An honest review of your beekeeping year will help to improve next year. So let’s get started!
This is the easiest and most fun question — what worked? Knowing what went well will help you to decide what to do next year. What went well or better than expected?
- Did a certain hive outperform the others?
- Did one yard produce more honey than the others?
- Did your colonies survive over winter?
- Was a particular Queen especially productive?
- Did you successfully split your hive(s)?
- Did you sell more honey at one market than another?
What didn’t work
Looking at our failures is never fun, but it helps us learn and grow. What did you do that didn’t go as well as planned?
- Did you use a certain feeder that leaked or ran out too fast?
- Did you not feed a colony that needed it?
- Did you pull honey too soon or too late?
- Did you wait too long for swarm management?
- Did you lose or kill a Queen?
- Did a hive get robbed out?
- Did you experience disease or pests?
- Did you keep a record or log?
This, of course, is not a full list of questions, just a few to help get you on the right track.
What do I want to do next season?
What is something that you’d like to try next year?
- Did you read about a new technique you’d like to try?
- Do you want to experiment with a new hive style?
- Do you want to try new equipment?
- Do you want to dabble in Queen rearing?
- Do you want to collect swarms or cut-outs next spring?
- Do you want to sell Nucs or hives next year?
- Do you want to expand to new bee yards?
- Have you signed up for free insurance through the USDA?
By knowing what you want to try next year, you’ll have time to research or purchase equipment.
Update your journal or logbook
The busy season can be too hectic to remember to create journal entries. While your memory is still fresh, now is a great time to jot down notes in your beekeeping journal. If you use an inspection log, reviewing them will help remind you of notable events.
If you don’t have a journal yet, I highly recommend starting one. Looking back on your notes will help in future seasons. It is also enjoyable to look back and see how you’ve improved.
Looking for a free inspection log? Download one here.
How much honey did I harvest?
Keeping track of your honey harvest gives a better idea as to what to expect for next year. If you have multiple bee yards, did one outperform the other? If so, it may be a good idea to consider moving hives to the better-producing yard. Additionally, knowing your harvest helps to give an estimate to what you can sell or give away for gifts.
What equipment needs to be repaired or replaced?
Things break. What do you need to fix or replace this winter? Are you due for a new suit? Do you need a new bee journal?
What equipment do I need?
Expanding on the previous topic- what equipment do you need to buy or want for next year? Now is a great time to compile ideas for a holiday wish list!
Expand your knowledge
The offseason is an excellent time to pick up a new book! If you haven’t joined already, your local and state bee clubs provide in-depth information for beekeeping in your specific area. Of course, be sure to subscribe to Keeping Backyard Bees to have articles like this delivered straight to your inbox!
Nicole is a beekeeper in southern Colorado and owner of HeritageAcresMarket.com, a resource for beekeeping, raising chickens, and sustainable living. Learn more about Nicole.
I was curious about the cluster breaking in the spring with warm daytime temps but then temps drop below freezing at night. What is the best way to work with this?
I enjoy Bee keeping!