Keeping honeybees does require a time commitment, but it’s usually less than people expect! Regular hive maintenance is a must for beekeeping in urban environments, but we also recommend setting aside time for reading, attending classes or club meetings, participating in bee forums and watching online videos in order to learn as much as you can about the hobby. The more you know, the more successful you’ll be.
In your first few years, plan to open your hives every 2 weeks or so. Ultimately, the goal is to open your hives as little as possible, but keeping track of colony activity and changes throughout the season is an incredibly important learning experience for new beekeepers. Your task list will vary at different times of the season, but the spring build-up and fall harvest will be your busiest times of the year.
Here’s an ultra-brief breakdown of what to expect each season:
- In the spring, plan for a few hours to bring your hives out of their winter configurations and get things ready for summer expansion.
- During late spring and early summer, plan for 20-minute inspections every couple of weeks to check for queen health, food stores, and varroa monitoring and response.
- In the fall, plan for a few hours of honey harvest and processing, as well as hive weatherproofing for winter.
- In the winter, you won’t be opening your hives at all!
Finally, if something goes wrong, you will need to be prepared to get into an angry hive and piece things back together. You can always call in a mentor or consultant for backup, when necessary. The key to stress-free beekeeping is staying on top of hive maintenance - do this, and each management session should be a breeze.