Hive Calendar: September

numbers collage imageSeptember tasks are a continuation of August tasks.  

  • Feeding a syrup ratio of 2 parts sugar to 1 part water should continue until late September if the hive doesn’t meet the target weight (for our region) of 60 pounds  of honey. Remember only use white sugar, not brown sugar as that could poison the   A simple way to estimate is tilting the hive from the back of the bottom box.  It should be noticeably heavy.  If temperatures drop below 50 degrees it is best to use dry forms of feed: fondant, sugar cakes, or simply a zip lock back with  granulated sugar (cut a couple slits in the zip-lock).  An estimate can also be made by counting the number of honey frames.  A western frame weights 3-3.5 pounds and a deep approximately 7-8 pounds.
  • Maintain entrance reducers to prevent yellow jacket attacks.  Reducers also prevent mice from entering.
  • Monitor mite population using the sugar shake method or audit mite drops on a sticky mat.  If count is high treat using the method of your choice which could be oxalic, . . . 

A thorough inspection of the hive is appropriate now.  

The queen’s egg laying is slowing down but the broodiest needs to expand to have enough young bees to over-winter successfully.  It is still possible to requeen if you think the queen is not productive.  Long-lived nurse bees will begin brood rearing in earnest in February. Reposition frames so that brood frames with honey arches are in the middle of the lowest 1 or 2 boxes and honey frames on either side of the brood.  

  • Too much space is a liability.  To condense the population remove frames/boxes that the bees are not using.
  • Frames that have nectar but not honey do not need to be discarded.  If a nectar flow continues the bees will continue to remove moisture from it and generate wax to cap it.
  • If there is an excess of pollen replace the frame with a frame of empty drawn comb.  Pollen isn’t really needed until spring brood rearing begins.
  • Empty brood combs should not be moved to the honey supers because of detritus in the bottom of the brood cells.
  • A small hive that is healthy can be compressed into a nuc or single box or merged with another hive using the newspaper technique.
  • Check for mites by using the sugar shake method and/or count mite drops on a sticky mat during a 48 hour period.

 Other tasks

  • Remove the queen excluder 
  • Ensure that the hive is tilted forward a few degrees so that condensation from the bees inside the hive does not drip on the cluster and so rain does not collect on the bottom board.  In late September consider feeding Fumidil-B for nosema apis and ceranae by adding it to the syrup you are feeding.  
  • A small upper entrance helps to vent moisture and heat from the hive.  A small notch in the inner cover with the notch facing up will do the trick – but keep this closed (pull outer cover back towards rear of hive) if robbing is occurring.
  • Wax Moth Control!  Store empty bee boxes with or without drawn comb in an area with a free flow of light and air throughout the stack to prevent wax moths from settling in. Read more about wax moth and controlling it here – else risk losing your valuable comb.  Storage areas for comb could be in front of garage or shed windows or in a dry area of a carport. Freezing frames just 24 hours has been shown to kill wax moth larvae,  so has heating them (less than 115 degrees for a short amount of time) see link above for more details on controlling wax moth. IMPORTANT!  If using chemical methods to prevent wax moth do not use naphthalene containing products – it will contaminate wax and kill bees plus you’ll have to trash any contaminated equipment.
  • A screened bottom board does not need to be blocked in our climate.  The openness will contribute to ventilating the hive.
  • In the northwest hives do not need to be wrapped or insulated.

 Storing Honey

  • Replace your wet frames of extracted honey in an empty super and return it to the hive to be cleaned by the bees.  To avoid robbing problems lock any entrances so yellow jackets and wasps cannot enter.
  • Extracted combs should not be stored wet because any remaining honey will crystallize in the cells, providing the “seeds” the will hasten the granulation next year’s crop.
  • Cull combs that are distorted, broken, or other wise not good.
  • Removing as much honey as possible from the cut wax cappings and then melt the wax cappings down.
  • Make sure honey containers are tightly closed.  Honey, which contains various amounts of fructose, can absorb moisture in a moderately humid area such as a basement.
  • If your honey should ferment, do not feed it to the bees because the alcohol content could poison them.
  • Store your honey above 57 degrees to avoid the granulation of the honey.  To prevent granulation during long term storage, honey may be kept in the freezer.

Bee facts from”The Beekeepers Handbook” by Sammataro and Avitabile

  • Swarming workers carry 36 mg. honey per day – has been reported.