An affiliate of the South Carolina Beekeepers Association

 Helpful information for Beekeepers

Labeling your Honey

Questions about how to label your honey?   See a copy of the SC labeling requirements for honey by clicking on the link below


Want to apply for a Honey exemption Certificate?  Click on the link below:


A Beekeeper's Year

This list gives you an overview of what's going on each month in the hive.  It also suggests some important tasks for the beekeeper and provides a rough estimate of the amount of time you might spend with your bees during a given month.  Note that weather, climate, neighborhood and even the type of bees you have will influence such activities.  Check this site frequently for additional details and special notes. 


The Bees
 :  The queen is surrounded by thousands of her workers.  She is in the midst of their winter cluster.  There is little activity, except on a warm day (about 45-50 degrees) when the workers will take the opportunity to make cleansing flights.  There are no drones in the hive, but some worker brood will begin to appear in the hive.  The bees will consume about 25 pounds of stored honey this month. 

The Beekeeper
 :  Little work is required from you at the hives.  If there is heavy snow, make certain the entrance to the hive is cleared to allow for proper ventilation.  This is a great time to catch up on reading about bees, to attend bee club meetings, and to build and repair equipment for next season.  Order package bees (if needed) from a reputable supplier. 

Time Spent
 : Estimate less than an hour. 


The Bees:  The queen, still cozy in the cluster, will begin to lay a few more eggs each day.  It is still "females only" in the hive.  Workers will take cleansing flights on mild days.  The bees will consume about 25 pounds of honey this month. 

The Beekeeper: There is not too much to do this month.  Attend those bee club meetings.  Read.  Get your equipment ready for spring. 

Time Spent:  Estimate less than one hour. 


The Bees:  This is the month when colonies can die of starvation.  However, if you fed them plenty of sugar syrup in the autumn, this should not happen.  With the days growing longer, the queen steadily increases her rate of egg laying.  More brood means more food consumed.  The drones begin to appear.  The bees will continue to consume honey stores. 

The Beekeeper:  Early in the month, on a nice mild day, and when there is no wind and bees are flying, you can have a quick peek inside your hive.  It's best not to remove the frames.  Just have a look-see under the cover.  If you do not see any sealed honey in the top frames, you may need to begin some emergency feeding.  But remember, once you start, you should not stop until they are bringing in their own food supplies. 

Time Spent:  Estimate 2 hours this month. 


The Bees:  The weather begins to improve, and the early blossoms begin to appear.  The bees begin to bring pollen into the hive.  The queen is busily laying eggs, and the population is growing fast.  The drones will begin to appear. 

The Beekeeper:  On a warm and still day, do your first comprehensive inspection.  Can you find evidence of the queen?  Are there plenty of eggs and brood?  Is there a nice pattern to the queen's egg laying?  Now is also the time to add Apistan strips (leave in the hive for 42 days).  Also add menthol (as mite control).  Later in the month, on a very mild and windless day, you should consider reversing the hive deeps.  This will allow for a better distribution of brood, and stimulate the growth of the colony.  You can begin to feed the hive medicated syrup. 

Time Spent: Estimate 3 hours. 


The Bees:  Now the activity really starts hopping.  The nectar and pollen should begin to come into the hive thick and fast.  The queen will be reaching her greatest rate of egg laying.  The hive should be bursting with activity. 

The Beekeeper:  You can remove your Apistan strips (if they have been in the hive for 42 days).  Also remove the menthol.  Add a queen excluder, and place honey supers on top of the top deep.  Watch out for swarming.  Inspect the hive weekly.  Attend bee club meetings and workshops. 

Time Spent: Estimate 4 to 5 hours this month. 


The Bees:  Colonies that have not swarmed will be boiling with bees.  The queen's rate of egg laying may drop a bit this month.  The main honey flow should happen this month. 

The Beekeeper:  Inspect the hive weekly to make certain the hive is healthy and the queen is present.  Add honey supers as needed.  Keep up swarm inspections.  Attend bee club meetings and workshops. 

Time Spent:  Estimate 4 to 5 hours. 


The Bees:  If the weather is good, the nectar flow may continue this month.  On hot and humid nights, you may see a huge curtain of bees cooling themselves on the exterior of the hive. 

The Beekeeper:  Continue hive inspections to assure the health of your colony.  Add more honey supers if needed.  Keep your fingers crossed in anticipation of a great honey harvest. 

Time Spent: Estimate 2 to 3 hours. 


The Bees:  The colony's growth is diminishing.  Drones are still around, but outside activity begins to slow down as the nectar flow slows. 

The Beekeeper:  No more chance of swarming.  Watch for honey robbing by wasps or other bees.  There is not very much for you to do this month.  Have a little holiday. 

Time Spent:  Estimate about an hour or two. 


The Bees:  The drones may begin to disappear this month.  The hive population is dropping.  The queen's egg laying is dramatically reduced. 

The Beekeeper:  Harvest your honey crop.  Remember to leave the colony with at least 60 pounds of honey for winter.  Check for the queen's presence.  Feed and medicate towards the end of the month (only the first 2 gallons is medicated).  Add Apistan strips (strips stay in the hive for 42 days).  Also add menthol for mite control.  Continue feeding until the bees will take no more syrup.  Attend bee club meetings. 

Time Spent:  Estimate 2-3 hours. 


The Bees:  Not much activity from the bees.  They are hunkering down for the winter. 

The Beekeeper:  Watch out for honey robbing.  Install inner cover wedges for ventilation.  Install mouse guard at entrance of hive.  Place insulite boards under hive cover to help keep colony dry.  Setup a wind break if necessary.  Finish winter feeding.  Don't forget to remove Apistan strips (assuming they have been in for 42 days).  Attend bee club meetings. 

Time Spent:  Estimate 2 hours. 


The Bees:  Even less activity this month.  The cold weather will send them into a cluster. 

The Beekeeper:  Store your equipment away for the winter.  Attend bee club meetings. 

Time Spent:  About one hour this month. 


The Bees:  The bees are in a tight cluster.  No peeking! 

The Beekeeper:  There's nothing you can do with the bees.  Enjoy the holidays! 

Time Spent: None

                                      New SC Rules for sale of honey

What's the buzz with new honey rules?

 One Saturday at the end of February I had what I called a 'B' day. At 9 a.m., I spoke to The SC Beekeepers Association Annual Spring Meeting in Columbia. At noon I spoke to the Beef Farmers meeting at the Farmers Market. At 2:00 I did a couple of radio interviews at the USC-Clemson baseball game. Then that night Blanche and I went to a wedding because the parents of the bride are good friends of ours. But back to the bees. One major topic of discussion at their meeting was the new amendment to the SC Food and Cosmetic Act which affects beekeeping.  Luckily, Angie Culler from the Department was there to explain the nuances of the changes.  Interestingly enough that ninety five percent of the beekeepers in South Carolina are hobbyists who sell their local honey from their homes, at farmers markets, or in retail stores. So there has been an amendment to the SC Food and Cosmetic law that is beneficial to small-scale beekeepers. The amendment defines honey and the labeling requirements, but it also exempts beekeepers from inspections and regulations requiring honey to be processed, extracted and packaged in an inspected food processing establishment if they

�� produce no more than 400 gallons or 4,800 pounds of honey annually

�� and only sell directly to the end consumer.

 If they meet these requirements, they are not required to obtain a registration verification certificate (RVC) from the SCDA. But labels are different. All containers of honey that are sold in South Carolina must meet labeling requirements. Also, to be exempt, beekeepers must file for the exemption on form provided by the SCDA. They can get these forms by calling our Food Safety and Compliance Office which is listed on our web site (www.agriculture.sc.gov) or by calling 803-737-9700. Now you understand why I was glad that Angie Culler spoke to the beekeepers to explain the details.  Agribusiness, agriculture and forestry, is the number one driver of our state's economy with a $34 billion a year impact and nearly 200,000 jobs. Beekeeping is a small, but important part of that agribusiness cluster. But, large or small, main street or mainstream, dairying or beekeeping - it's all part of the bigger picture of agribusiness in this state. I told the beekeepers they were in the livestock business the same as me, just a few thousand pounds differences per animal. SC beekeepers manage an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 colonies. But the sweetest value of honeybees is that honeybees help farmers produce fruits and vegetables with cash receipts of $25 million a year. Not included in this amount are the other crops that need pollination and the many vegetables, fruits, and flowers cultivated in home gardens that depend on or benefit from honeybee pollination.  Eighty percent of the pollination of the fruits, vegetables and seed crops in the U.S. is accomplished by honeybees. I can't imagine our farmers painstakingly going from flower to flower in the field with a cotton swab and manually pollinating every blossom on the squash plants. We all leave it up to the experts - the honeybees. We encourage homeowners to plant a lot of different native flowers to provide food for the honeybees and other beneficial insects. You can find plants that are beneficial for our native pollinators at any of our Plant and Flower Festivals going on at the State Farmers Markets.

Hugh E. Weathers,  Commissioner

Reprinted from the   S o u t h  C a r o l i n a  MARKET BULLETIN South Carolina Department of Agriculture Volume 86 April 19, 2012 Number 8


Study Guidelines for the SC Beekeeper Program Certified Level

At the certified level the individual should be familiar with the basic skills and knowledge necessary for the beginning hobby beekeeper. The individual must pass a written and practical test.

 The Hive and The Honey Bee
 American Bee Journal
 Bee World
 Bee Culture
 Speedy Bee

Honey Bee Diseases and Pest
 American Foulbrood
 European Foulbrood
 Chalk Brood
 Sacbrood
 Varroa Mites
 Tracheal Mites
 Nosema
 Symptoms, causative agent, treatments
 Small Hive Beetle
 Wax Moths
 Africanized Honey Bee

 Processing
 How bees produce
 Uses

Honey/How produced
 Nectar and Pollen sources
 Conversion into honey-sugars
 Percent moisture

 Granulation/Re-liquefied
 Selling
 Conversion from nectar to honey
 Uses
 Types in S.C.

Bees/Races and Subspecies
 Origins
 Traits

 Requeening techniques
 Mating
 Swarming
 Dances

Basic anatomy; Queen/worker/drone
 Parts
 Breathing
 Organs
 Glands

Seasonal hive transformation/evolution and management
Africanized bees
 Applications
 Toxicity
 Poisoning signs & symptoms

Bee Equipment
 Parts and uses of a beehive
 Traits of a good bee yard

Products of the hive
 Honey
 Beeswax
 Propolis
 Venom
 Wax moth larvae
 Package Bee and Queens

Key people in beekeeping; past and present
 L.L. Langstroth
 Harry Laidlaw

Hive Manipulation & Honey Bee Management
 Spring
 Summer
 Fall
 Winter


Tips for "Bait" hives

Rather than sitting around waiting for someone to call you about a swarm this Spring, why not set up a few bait hives to see if you can entice swarms to take up residence?  Some beekeepers also like to keep a bait hive near their own apiary just in case one of their own hives casts a swarm. You can also place a bait hive in an area where you already know there's a feral hive or near a "bee tree" where a feral colony resides.  Below are some tips from Dr. Seeley's book, Honeybee Democracy. These are based on extensive research conducted over many years by Dr. Seeley, one of the leading experts on swarm behavior.

1.  Place your bait hive about 15-16 feet off the ground

2.  Face the entrance SOUTH

3.  Be sure the volume of your box is at least 40 liters but not a lot bigger

4.  Put some comb in your box, either foundation or drawn comb.  

Following these tips won't guarantee you any "freebees" but it'll definitely improve your chances!   




  1. 4 Pounds of Granulated Sugar (Sucrose)
  2. 3 Ounces of Corn Oil
  3. 1 ½ Pounds of Vegetable Shortening (Crisco)
  4. 1 Pound of Honey
  5. 2 Ounces plus 1 tsp. of Wintergreen oil
  6. ½ Pound of Mineral Salt (Pink color) approx. $8.00 for 50 lb. from feed stores. 

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Note: If the mixture is too thin, add more sugar, and if too thick, add honey until it is like the dough of canned biscuits from the grocery store. It should be easily molded into patties.


NOTE: The colonies must be treated using this system BEFORE mite populations reach injury level to the colony. Once the colonies reach parasitic mite syndrome (deformed wings), they will not consume enough of the patties to do any good, however, we are showing an increase in housecleaning debris so we think the fumes from this concentration of wintergreen may be killing mites inside the cells through the caps and the bees are attempting to remove everything related to the smell. The bees themselves are apparently not affected.


When feeding the patties, use two (2) five (5) ounce patties between the supers. Separate them so they overlap the normal ends of the cluster. This allows normal movement above the center of the brood cluster. This strength Wintergreen Oil has been found to kill small hive beetles en masse.  However, beetle populations are directly related to varroa-mite infestation so controlling varroa is the dominant requirement. In summer, we are using a screened bottom board (8 mesh h’dware cloth) AND a screened top in place of  an inner cover.  The hives are placed in full sun to discourage SHB. When using a top screen, be sure that the outer cover gives % inch unrestricted (visible from side) air flow (dose not reach down to the level of the super or the bees may propolize the screen.) Colony populations explode when they have enough ventilation. A nice experience is to lift the outer cover of a hive and look in on totally calm bees in the top of the super. If you then see any hive beetles on the top of the screen trying to enter the hive, you need to accept that you have some varroa build-up in progress and monitoring varroa is necessary.


NOTE:  Wintergreen Oil in excess pf 500 parts per millions gives a 50% kill of the bees. (50 LD) is the term used to signify 50% toxicity. The above mix is approximately 225 ppm.


 Reprinted with permission of:



SPARTANBURG, SC 29307-2825