Updated: Jul 16
Half the year is over and the days are getting a little shorter each day. The honey flow has been good this year. We seem to get these wonderful rain storms that come thru every couple of weeks. The consistent moisture as helped give us a pretty good honey crop. There is still a little nectar coming in. But it has drastically reduced from earlier in June. As the heat rises and we get less moisture. The flow will continue to slow in July and slow even more in August.
So you should be checking your hive occasionally to make sure it is queen right and that she is doing a good job. The first week or so of July is a good time to re-queen your hive. The hive is at it's peak population (a strong hive will make the best queens). It will not impact your hives nectar harvesting by the bees, in fact may enhance it.
You have 2 options one is to purchase a queen ($40-50) or stimulate your hive to raise their own. The big challenge for most newer beekeepers is actually finding the queen. To stimulate the hive to raise a new queen, you need to remove the old queen from the hive. This can be challenging if the hive is large and robust and in now 3 boxes. But the benefits of a new fall queen raised by a large hive will be a fabulous queen, who because of the great weather this time of year will also be well mated.
I like to use the OTS - On The Spot queen rearing method developed by Mel Disselkoen. If you google "Mel Disselkoen OTS" You'll find his links and a couple of videos. It's a natural way for a backyard beekeeper to stimulate the hive to raise their own queen. But make sure you follow up 28-30 days later to make sure they were successful. If not you'll probably need to purchase a queen then. My experience has been that they are successful about 85-90% of the time. Just know it's not 100%. So follow up and make sure everything works out. It is a great experience for a new beekeeper to have in following the progress of a new queen being made and to see her start laying her own eggs.
July Action Items
-Inspect your hive for -
1. Queen rightness. (You don't need to see the queen, but find eggs as evidence she is doing her job)
2. Look at the Larva, and Brood for evidence of disease and brood pattern strength. (Off colored, yellowing or browning larva, or larva that has shriveled up that isn't pearly white and wet may be evidence of a disease issue. As well as a spotty pattern or perforated and sunken brood caps. If in doubt call our state Dept. of Agriculture Bee Inspectors at 801-801-538-4912. Joey Caputo and Steve Stanko are there to help us (there is no cost) and can help you identify what you have and suggest treatment options.
3. Manage frames making sure there are honey frames on the outside edges of the lower box and the second box is filling up with honey as well. You may have to move frames from the outside edges in the third box down to those lower areas if they haven't done so already.
4. July is when I would do a mite test to see where you are. Plus it's good practice for you new beekeepers.. Then test again in August. I try to avoid treating till the end of August after I have removed my honey supers. But if you show higher counts of over 1-2 mite per 100 bees sampled. You might want to do something to knock them back a bit. Be careful as you select a treatment that fits your beekeeping goals, and that isn't harmful to the bees in the summer heat.
5. If you have a weak hive that is still in 1 or 2 boxes. You may need to feed them to help them keep growing and not slow down as the nectar resources slow down. Our goal is to have a hive that weighs close to a 100 lbs. after you've taken your honey super off at the end of August.