My beekeeping goal is to have healthy hives that overwinter and are productive the following spring. A honey crop and/or NUC production is more likely from strong, disease free, over wintered hives. What I am doing with my bees in June and July depends on which hive I’m working with. Broadly speaking, I have 5 and 10 frame hives containing strong and weak colonies.
1st hive type – 10 frame equipment with 5 – 7 supers now loaded with bees and honey
- Main management is to check for any issues that will prevent a honey crop
- Done laying queen
- Small hive beetle
- Lack of space
- Building mite population
- Maintain good ventilation by tilting top cover and sliding a super forward to allow for upper entrance and additional air flow. Entrance is completely open
- Because these hives are scheduled to be used for maximum honey production there are limited possibilities for intervention
- Could re-queen if needed
- Could add small hive beetle trap if needed
- Could add foundation, drawn comb or extract to give more space if needed but honey flow is tapering off by mid June and capping is not complete
2nd hive type – 10 frame weaker hives that swarmed, had earlier queen failure or other issues and will not produce a honey crop
- Main management goal is to build up the hive and prevent issues with mites, small hive beetle, wax moth, robbing, lack of brood production, low amount of fall honey storage.
- Intervention possibilities
- Re-queen to boost brood production if queen is not productive using swarm cell, purchased queen or combine a spring nuc with good queen into the hive
- Add frame or two of capped brood from strong hive if queen is good
- Add frame or two of pollen and honey if queen is good and eggs are visible
- Treat for mites if needed from mite count board or drone cell testing
- Reduce supers to maintain good bee cover on remaining frames
- Reduce entrance opening
- Intervention possibilities
3rd hive type – 5 frame NUC hives – currently all are 2 supers
- Strong 5 frame NUC hives
- Watch to be sure queens are productive and brood pattern is solid
- Be ready to add the third super for over wintering as a 3 super NUC
- Treat for mites, trap small hive beetle if needed
- Watch for pollen and honey stores
- Control entrance opening based on congestion
- Weak 5 frame NUC hives
- Add a frame of brood if there are enough bees available to cover the frame
- Check and treat for mites if mite population is high. Use mite count board or check drone brood for mites
- Reduce entrance to very small opening
- Feed 1 to 1 sugar syrup
- Feed pollen patty in very small amounts if the bees will take it
- Plan to combine with other NUC if too weak to overwinter
General plans for remaining weeks of June and July
- Check extraction equipment, honey buckets, labeling and bottling supplies
- Extract and bottle 2013 honey crop
- Check for mite treatment supplies and plan July treatment schedule based on mite count board results and drone brood testing
- Continue to monitor honey supers for progress with capping of honey
- Keep hives well ventilated
- Determine how many frames will be needed for overwinter 5 frame NUCs to be in 3 super configurations. These frames will be from various sources including frames from honey supers that were not properly capped and therefore not good for extraction.
- Check feeders to be ready for August through October syrup feeding – fat, young, mite free bees overwinter better
- Check protein supplement to be ready for protein feeding
- Check Honey-B-health supply. I use it in all syrup
- Keep close check of what is blooming as the nectar flow is tapering off by month end.
Points to consider
- Days will start getting shorter in the next few weeks and the bees sense this
- Nectar and pollen flow will mostly stop in July until late August depending on rain fall
- Mite control in July is very effective and helps hive build healthy bees for over wintering
- Strong three super fall hives over winter better. 45 – 50 pounds of honey is not too much
- The beekeeper can only control mites and other pest, amount of honey left on hive, quality of queen, ventilation, keep the hives located in full sun year around and a few other items.
Mite testing and treatment is an ongoing process.
- 24 hour mite drop test using board under screen bottom board. Less than 5 or so mites in 24 hours would be acceptable, 10 or more would indicate increasing mite problem and trigger treatment if honey supers are not present.
- Drone brood test by opening 10 or so capped drone brood cells and looking for mites. They are easy to see on the brood. If I see 1 or 2 mites in 10 cells I would plan to treat.