By Kathy Cox
Oh my, it has been hot. Are your bees bearding? That is when you see bees all over the outside of the hive. They are taking their body heat outside to help keep the colony cooler. I’ve even seen bees on one side fanning facing in and on the other side facing out to move the air! These little insects never fail to amaze me. Make sure to give them an upper entrance to help ventilate the hive. When I was beekeeping in California, I put pennies on the four corners to help keep the wax from melting. At 90 degrees the wax can stretch and is very pliable. Handle with care.
This time of year, we aren’t getting into the hives as often, because there is not a fear of swarming. Sometimes the result is that the queen dies and laying workers take over the hive. Make sure to Google Laying Workers and read up on methods to save the hive. You can tell you have them when there are multiple eggs in a cell and the eggs appear on the sides of the cell. Workers can’t reach the center bottom like a queen can.
We are facing the time of the year in between the blackberry and knotweed flow when there is little out there for the bees. The heat this time of year can dry up the nectaries in flowers, so it looks like there is forage, but there is not. Make sure to monitor nectar and pollen in the hive and supplement if needed. This period is called “A Dearth.” If you are feeding it is time to change the syrup to a 1:1 solution. Don’t forget to add a dash of vinegar to retard mold. I don’t use any feed supplements, as it can cause robbing. Don’t forget to give them a water source or two. I buy sheet cake pans at the dollar store. Put corks, wood chips or rocks in it so the bees don’t drown. Fill with water. If you have sprinklers, put the pans near them to save some work! The birds will be happy too.
Make sure to check all the way down to the bottom boxes. Queens like to move up and resources can fill the bottom box. If that is the case, reverse the boxes, putting the bottom up to the top position. Don’t worry if it is a deep because you will probably need to reverse again in the spring and it will go back down, as it will have brood again.
If you haven’t pulled your honey harvest it is time to do it. Make sure to freeze frames for 48 hours if you are unable to extract immediately or you will have wax moth eggs hatching and making a nasty mess of the bee’s work. Once you have the honey off, it is time to do a mite wash. I love the Varroa EZ Wash. Yes, you kill 300 bees, but that is better than losing the whole hive later. If you don’t have VSH QUEENS you most likely HAVE TO DO A MITE WASH.
It is getting close to the time when the drones are kicked out. Watch for this. The bees are smart and don’t want to feed the boys all winter. In the spring make sure to wait until you see the newly hatched drones before trying to split a hive.
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Master Beekeeper U of Montana