Hive Calendar: June

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Bees need water!  Encourage your bees to drink at home rather than the neighbors swimming pool or water feature.  For example,  set up  a water feeder designed for chickens.  Place a few pebbles in the tray so the bees have a place to light.  Other options would include floating a piece of cork in a pail of fresh water; birdbath that fills automatically when the water is low; set an outside faucet to drip sloooowly.
Bees often build brace comb, sometimes called ladder comb, making it difficult to inspect hives.  Scrape away bits of comb on top of frames and from the 2 long sides of the boxes each time you inspect.  In the winter or very early spring clean all the hive components of the unnecessary comb.
At this reading you may be still feeding 1:1 syrup because stretches of bad weather can compromise the bees’ foraging.  To insure that feeding is no longer necessary watch for fermented syrup and replace it.   After doing this 2 or 3 times you have confirmed that syrup is no longer needed.
Mite population has already begun to build and a popular way to reduce their numbers is drone brood trapping.  Mites prefer drone brood because they take a couple days longer to mature than the working bees and thus provides the mites two more days to mature.  A healthy colony will use 10-15% of their brood comb space to raise drones.  Remove a frame of drones from the brood nest and replace it with a frame that is foundationless.  The challenge is to find a frame with very little worker brood that can be removed and possibly used somewhere else.  The bees will draw drone comb in the foundationless frame and lay drone eggs.  When most of the cells have been capped, about 18 -21 days, freeze the frame and add a new foundationless frame in its place.  In 2 or 3 months your mite population will be low.
To get an idea of the mite population insert a sticky board beneath the screened bottom board.  Sticky boards can be ordered from suppliers or you can make your own from old election campaign signs.  Spread petroleum jelly thickly on the board so when they drop they can’t move.  Out of the total mite population about 20% are not in brood cells so this technique will give you some idea of the total population in the hive.   Doing this several times a season will give you an idea of the population increase.  In Danny Najera’s talk at the May monthly PSBA meeting, he explained that a mite riding on a foraging bee can hop off to light on a bloom and wait for the next visitor. That bee may reside in a different hive. Additionally, based on his mite study in our geographical area, August 28th is THE latest date by which we need to complete pre-winter mite management measures. “DO SOMETHING!  MAQS, Hopguard, Oxalic, Powdered Sugar, Drone removal, or Queen sequestering.” Mark your calendar!
Bee Facts from “The Beekeeper’s Handbook” by Sammatro and Avitabile
• Daily death rate in a colony of 50,000 bees is 500
• A bee gorged with 30 mg. Of honey honey can fly about 34 miles before running out of fuel.