Beekeeping Tips for July
by Todd Balsiger
- Unless you're near a commercial crop or at higher
elevations, the summer nectar dearth begins about mid July
(maybe August 1st this year). At this time we should be
thinking about nest consolidation and honey harvest.
- In late summer we crowd the bees. We begin this in
earnest in August along with mite treatments, but for now
don't leave extra supers on colonies light on stores. Also,
avoid having extra supers on colonies as the nectar flow
tapers off as this leads to half-filled frames --an
inconvenience at harvest time.
- As usual, keep an eye out for colony health. Any colony
not keeping up with its peers needs to be inspected to make
sure it is queen-right and healthy.
- Requeen any colony with undesirable characteristics such
as poor production, European foulbrood (not AFB), poor brood
pattern, mean temper, etc.
- Queenless hives are a real problem and need to be either
requeened with a nuc or retired. Typically, queenless hives
have an abundance of pollen stored in multiple frames (no
brood to feed). This condition typically is followed by the
development of laying workers. Signs of laying workers are
multiple eggs per cell, eggs on the side of cells (opposed
to one egg centered on the bottom), and drone brood
development in worker cells. If requeening, always place the
nuc in the top brood box and to one side (easier to defend).
You may want to reverse brood boxes first as there may be
fewer bees in the lower box (again, easier to defend). If
you retire the hive, shake the bees out and share the frames
with other hives - the workers will perceive the eggs as
foreign and unwanted and will eat them. After the drones
hatch from the elongated worker cells, the workers will cut
the cells back to their regular length.
- Keep on the lookout for American foulbrood as robbing
season is imminent and AFB infected colonies make easy
targets. AFB is highly infectious and early detection is
important in its control.
- Remove and extract supers. Honey removed in late July
will have less moisture content than honey in June, so you
do not have to be as judicious about making sure that all
cells are capped. Moreover, in late season the nectar flow
can end, and the bees will be unable to cap the honey cells
even though they are ready (sufficiently dehydrated). As a
general rule you can always check the moisture content and
ripeness of honey in a given frame by shaking it hard
downward and seeing if nectar falls out. If a shower of
nectar falls out, then that frame was not ready.
- Be prepared to do the most important treatments of the
year for your hive in early August: Varroa mite and
foulbrood treatment, and reducing hives down to winter