August is usually a hot dry period of time and the bees will need water. Some beekeepers feed a little 1:1 sugar water to the bees at least once a week until the Fall nectar flow begins in late August. This is also the time when there is the biggest threat for robbing events to take place. It only takes a minor issue like dripping sugar water on the ground near a hive or leaving a hive open to long with honey supers still on to incite an incident. It is a good idea to place entrance reducers on your hives and to close off any other possible entrance accesses. August is the beginning of the Fall/Winter preparation period for your beehives. Weak hives need to be combined with stronger hives or be re-queened preferably with a strong Nuc. Take care to watch for increases in Varroa mite populations, small hive beetles and the dreaded wax moths. All hives should be treated for Varroa mites in mid to late July or August. The population of the hives can only manage and protect a reasonable space. Too much room in a hive, regardless of the population, can result in hive beetles and wax moths moving in and taking over a hive. This can happen rather quickly. So consider removing extra supers and/or mostly empty supers especially off weaker hives. The Fall nectar flow generally starts mid to late August and ends around mid-September.
Well we were way behind just a month ago in May, but now we are way ahead starting off in June. The nectar flow kicked in and so did the honey bees collecting nectar and pollen. The days are getting longer and the bees are flying later into the day up until sundown. Everyone should have placed supers on all mature double deep hives and be adding more as those start to fill up. Need to be checking the hives at least once a week to make sure that the queen has room to lay—may need to rotate frames in the brood box or add new frames. It’s also a time when the Varroa mites will be increasing although it is not a good time to treating during the nectar flow. Pulling and inspecting drone larvae is a good way to check for Varroa mites. Some recommend destroying all queen cells during this period of time. Allow for adequate ventilation of the hives. Also watch out for those hive beetles moving in and take action to keep them under control. The use of Swiffer no-scent pads laid on the top of the frames in the top boxes can help. There are a lot of folks starting to harvest early honey. By placing the cleaned extracted frames back on the hives is a good way to keep the bees stimulated during the latter part of the nectar flow. Sometimes they will immediately start refilling those frames. Some hive may go queen less and it may be necessary to re-queen a hive. There are ways to do this without too much disruption—such as the use of a 3 or 4 frame Nuc with a new queen transitioned into the hive—only takes about 3 or 4 days and the hive is fully back in operation. Some use direct introduction of queens into a queen less hives. All queen cells of any kind must be removed.
If the queen has moved up into the supers and have laid eggs and there’s larvae, move those frames with eggs and larvae to the outside of the super and place frames full of nectar and honey to the center. This will help slow the queen down because normally she will not come back up over the frames of nectar and honey. You can also use queen excluders but you must make sure that the queen is down in the deep hive boxes. Some use a 2/3 or 3/4 excluder cut down to only cover the center 6 frames of the top brood box which allows more freedom of movement of the bees up through the outside frames into the supers. Having 5/8” entry holes in the front of each super also helps as well.
If you are harvesting honey, it is recommended that you use a dehumidifier and fans to help reduce the moisture content of your honey down to around 18% or less before starting extraction. Normally if you can get the humidity in the room down to around 30%, then the honey will be close to the desired moisture contend. This usually takes about 24 to 48 hours. It is also recommended that you only pull frames for harvesting honey that are at least 75% fully capped. It’s still early in the year and there is no reason to get into a hurry to harvest honey. Most years folks don’t start harvesting until after the 4th of July. Good Luck- Good Honey Season
Beekeeping Notes April 2018: these notes are general in nature and are meant to encourage some planning and good hive management. There are many other references on-line with suggested things to do each month; KSBA website and Kentucky State University-Cooperative Extension Program.
March: This spring is off to very warm days followed by windy, cold rainy sometimes snowy days, so the bees are struggling to get going with a start stop weather pattern.
April: “BEWARE OF SWARMING”
- The hives that have made it through the winter and this past March are most probably in good condition and the queens should be laying good patterns. If not then plan to replace those non-productive queens as soon as possible.
- Early in the month continue to feed the hives with 1:1 sugar syrup because it is remaining cold and rainy. Stop the use of pro patties because as it does warm up the small hive beetles love the patties.
- Conduct regular hive inspections every 7 to 10 days weather permitting. It’s a good idea to keep watch for rapidly expanding hives and the possibility for swarming.
- April is a good time to consider making splits from very strong hives for Nuc’s and/or maybe divide strong hives into two equal hives.
- Be sure to check for the queen, the brood pattern, the number of frames of capped brood, eggs, swarm cells and etc.
- Replace poorly productive queens—not laying very many eggs or very poor brood pattern.
- This is also the time to install packages of bees and Nuc’s to start new hives.
- Remember to remove all Varroa Mite treatments before installing any honey supers.
- Consider adding honey supers around mid-month because the nectar flow may have begun.
- Remove all debris/observation boards from screened bottom boards as soon as the day time temperatures are regularly above 60 degrees and the night Temperatures are well above 32 degrees. There is no real hurry and they can stay on longer to be safe.
- Consider removing entrance reducers once the nectar flow starts and especially when you see the bees struggling to get in and out of the hives—traffic jams at the entrances.
- After putting on honey supers, wait a week or so before adding queen excluders, if you use them, so as to allow the bee’s freedom of movement to get started bringing in nectar and pollen to the supers. If you want to add queen excluders, make sure that the queen is not up in the supers. Reversing hive bodies just before adding the supers can help to avoid the queen moving up into the supers and maybe also help to avoid swarming as well.
- Recommend a ground cover or treatment under each hive such as 30# roofing felt/paper of similar material. Also suggest spreading salt on ground around under hive stands to control hive beetles, Varroa mites and other pest. This will only help control -- it is "not a prevention".