What should I bee doing in August 2019!
HONEY HARVEST AND MITE CHECKS OH MY!
Happy harvest, Beeople! This summer has flown by so fast. I bet we say that every year. According to my weatherman Hutty, summer will be over in 2 weeks and then fall is officially here. Compared to last summer, we are in a much better spot weather wise. Although we had some crazy storms and the rain events have been soggy to say the least, our bees have benefited from a warm and flower rich season. Cross your fingers that the fall flowers provide and we can fatten up those hives before winter.
WHAT ARE THE BEES DOING IN AUGUST?
The bees are slowing down and gearing up for winter. The main nectar flow is over but there are still some drips left in flowers, keeping robbing at bay and bees busy. Pollen stores are increasing as the days get even shorter and the nights cooler. The queen is not laying as strong but still producing here winter daughters. Her last few generations are crucial and as of today, she only has 2-3 cycles of laying left! This is a crucial thing to remember as a beekeeper when preparing for winter! Every 21 days, her new babies come out and all that pollen supports a healthy population of winter warriors to carry the hive through the long, dark night. The golden rod is blooming and I even saw a few asters where I live. I have not seen a lot of nectar from these fall providers yet but it is still early. Last year, in a few locations, I had a lot of golden rod nectar. So much that I had a few hives swarm on me!
WHAT IS THE BEEKEEPER DOING IN AUGUST?
I started harvesting my supers last week. Most of the hives had at least 1-2 supers that were capped over and ready to take. Remember, if you take a box that has less than 75% of the frames capped, it is most likely too high in moisture to extract. We have a great forecast this week for bees ripening honey. Dry and warmish but bee careful and get those entrance reducers on. We had one beekeepers in this week that had his hive robbed and his harvest went from 18 frames to 5! Any supers that were not done, I left on the hive for a few reasons. 1. To give the bees a little more time to ripen and cap over honey. 2. If the fall flowers do not provide as much, I can choose to leave that extra honey on the hive instead of feeding. 3. After doing my August mite checks, I can have some extra space above them in case I need to apply Formic Pro or Mite Away Quick Strips to the hive. If you are using 2 deeps or 3 deeps, make sure that the deep below the supers has honey in the broodnest before you take all the honey away!
Mite checks, mite checks, mite checks! Like I mentioned above, the winter bees are being born and need to be healthy before the flowers and the weather shuts down. Although your counts may have been low till now, don’t get overconfident. This is the time of year when numbers start to spike. Neighboring hives could be crashing and mites are outcompeting bees in reproduction. The threshold is 9/300 bees. I have only had to treat a handful of hives and I have been using one strip at a time instead of two at a time. I feel better about not blasting the bees so hard and potentially this late in the season. I plan to do mite checks now and then again the 1st weekend in September. This will ensure I stay ahead of any spikes in mites and can take care of it before it is too late!
Also, I had a beekeeper come in yesterday and say their queen was being superseded. If this has happened to you in the last few weeks, the best thing to do is leave it alone. It would be really hard to find a new queen at this point and even if you had one, it would be hard to requeen during this process. Always wait a month from when you first see a queen cell in the hive. Check back for eggs. If by the end of the season you have no queen, combine with another hive if you have it. This is why having nucs around is so valuable!
Check out this great article from Dr. Meghan Milbrath about working with our local bee communities towards sustainable beekeeping. It reinforces why we started Camp Beez Kneez and why we started this club. Also, her timeline for what you should be doing with your bees when(keep in mind she is in Michigan and our season is shorter)
If you want to extract honey at the Beez Kneez Honey House, remember you get $10 off your extraction. We are taking appointments now!
Club Camp Beez Kneez Harvest Party will be in mid-September. Date TBD. Probably on a Sunday. You can pick up your long awaited T-shirts then!
See you soon!