I have been participating in a university beehive research program this summer. The researcher sampled 6 of my hives for Varroa Mites and took samples of bees for additional testing and evaluation for viruses and etc. in late July and returned and repeated the same again this past week. Interesting Varroa Mite counts: During the initial inspection, Varroa Mite counts varied from as high as 42 to as low as 0 in hives just a few feet apart. During the follow-on inspection this week and after I had completed an initial treatment of the hives, the 0 mite count hives actually had significant increases in the mite count while the initial higher mite count hives had a much lower count. What is the significance of this information?
- First, treating for Varroa Mites is very important regardless.
- Sampling for Varroa Mites on a regular basis to include before and after treatment is very important. Recommend the alcohol wash method.
- Just because a hive is treated does not necessarily mean that the hive has been completely and effectively treated for mites.
- I’m treating my hives for a second time in a month starting this week and for the 4th time this year. I will be sampling for Varroa mites again toward the end of September, early October. And I will treat again if necessary.
The researchers have inspected over 20 apiaries across KY and plan on publishing a preliminary report in October and I will post as soon as I receive it.
- The fall nectar flow has varied considerably around the area from pretty good to pretty poor. This will mostly likely continue through mid-September. For some, there is fair chance that you might get a little fall honey. By mid-September, you should have removed all supers from your hives.
- It’s time to conduct a good hive inspection to check for a laying queen, eggs and brood. Egg laying may have taper off some; the populations may be down a little; and there are probably no more drones. It’s also time to evaluate the strength of each hive (strong, average, weak) and consider combining weak hives with stronger hives. REMEMBER: queens need a lot of bees in the hive to keep laying.
- Trying to find a queen for re-queening may be difficult and the process may not be as effective as you might like.
- September is the month to also consider downsizing your hives to where there are plenty of bees in each hive box – 8 frames or more of bees in each box. A hive can be downsized to just one deep and still be successfully managed through the fall and winter. REMEMBER to always make sure that the queen has 4 or 5 frames available in the middle of brood boxes.
- During the hive inspection, check to see if the hives have plenty of stores going into the fall. If they do not, then consider to start feeding your hives with 2:1 sugar water through October.
- Do not feed outside the hive and be careful not to spill any syrup or other around the hives---it will incite robbing.
- Be very careful using Honey Bee Healthy or Pro Heath in the syrup mixture because it can also attract other bees and incite robbing.
- In September, some beekeepers start using winter patties like AP 23 winter patties from Dadant or similar. CAUTION: until it turns cold, the hive beetles will be very active and they love patties—so consider only feeding 1/3 to ½ of a patty at a time between the brood boxes.
- It is also a critical time to check for Varroa mites; they build up in August and on into September. So it is important to treat in September for Varroa Mites. The weather forecast looks good for starting treatments over the next 10 days or so.
- CAUTION: read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and completely. Remember that their recommendations are based on treating strong hives with good populations. SO you may need to reduce the level of treatment for an average or weak high. APIGUARD is a good example: it comes in single treatment in a square flat canister --- that’s for a strong hive – way too much for an average or weak hive—so you may need to remove about half of the jell from the canister. Similarly, FORMIC PRO comes in a two patty single treatment pack for strong hives – too much for an average or weak hive--- one patty is sometimes adequate or two treatments of a single patty may be more effective. For the use of both Apiguard and Formic Pro, there generally is a need to add an extra box on top to allow for expansion of the bees up in the hives during the initial few days of treatment due to the strong fumes coming off the treatment. JUST SOME THINGs TO CONSIDER.
- If you have not placed entrance reducers on your hives, then it is time to do so, and also consider mouse guards by October as may be appropriate.
- Consider putting out Bug Jugs. They are great for collecting up wax moths, wasp, yellow jackets, flies, and other flying inspects/pests. Arizona Tea jugs are excellent. Cut a 1 inch square hole in the upper face of the jug opposite of the handle. Fill with 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1 banana peel, and a quart of warm water --about 1/2 to 3/4 full but well below the cut hole. Hang jugs nears your hives. One jug per 3 to 4 hives. They really work. Good from thru October.