I start getting ready for next spring in mid to late July just after honey is pulled and extracted, preparing for overwinter nuc production in May when I order queens for late July or early August shipment. This supplies replacement queens for hives with questionable brood conditions with the balance going into summer nuc production or sold to others
Mite treatment is applied just after the honey crop is removed. I select the product based on temperature, available time for treatment and nuc production plans. Apivar, Apiguard and Apilife var are my current summer products of choice.
The goal is to have 10 to 15 five frame hives that are three supers tall with a two frame internal feeder – a total of 13 frames ready by late fall. I use a new queen in these nucs. After mite treatment finishes, nucs are made and any hive with a failing queen gets the queen replaced.
After this, management is limited to checking hives for brood conditions, combining weak hives, moving frames out of overly strong hives, maximizing winter food and pollen storage, wooden ware condition review and correcting as needed. It is also the time to continue mite testing and treat again if needed.
My standard winter configuration is 3 to 4 medium supers regardless of equipment style – 10 frame, 8 frame or 5 frame. The goal for regular hives is to have the top super full of capped honey with the next one down mostly capped honey with some brood being normal. Nucs follow the same pattern except the internal feeder takes two frame spaces and can be back filled with frames from a stronger hive or stored honey just before cold weather
I start feeding fondant in late January to the hives that are deemed to light when lifting the back of the hive. Nucs are fed fondant when a day is available to open the hive.
Queens for spring nuc production or re-queening are ordered in January as soon as the supplier will accept my order.