What am I doing with my bees in June and July

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

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.