August in the Apiary
What one does for the bees in August can greatly influence how your bees will go through the upcoming winter, and whether they will be able to emerge once again in the Spring. August is the beginning of Fall, and honey flows will be greatly reduced. Here are some hopefully useful points.
When the honey flow subsides early this month (less white wax on honey frames being pulled and honey production reduced), you should remove the honey super if you have one. This allows them to work on their 2 brood chamber boxes in order to configure it for winter.
Less nectar means more tendency to rob. Work hives carefully if other hives are in the area so as to avoid honey being exposed for too long. Once robbing starts, it is hard to stop. Reducing entrances on weaker hives is a good idea. And an even better idea is to combine small hives with larger ones (examine health of weak hive first to be sure you are not bringing AFB, tracheal mites, or heavy Varroa infestation into the bigger hive.
August is the time for mite treatment. I like to have the treatment finished by Aug 15 so that my winter bees are as mite free as I can reasonably accomplish for them. Some choose not to treat. Others use Hopguard 2 or MAQS (both considered organic treatments). At the least, take a mite count to know the mite load in your hive.
Tracheal mites take down bees in the winter. Good idea to have a grease patty (Crisco or canola oil), some HBH, lemongrass or spearmint essential oil, and drivert sugar (a cross between powdered and superfine) formed into a patty and placed on top of the bars. Superfine sugar can be used if drivert is not handy. Reg sugar is better than not making a patty for them.
Wax Moths- if you pull frames for storage, freeze them first or keep them in a cold place, sealed up. In a few weeks, they can destroy a lot. Actually, the two wax moths species are somewhat misnamed, as they really are much more interested in cast larval skins found in (especially) old comb. To a lesser degree they eat stored pollen, honey and wax. The light honey-only comb is less at risk.
After the honey super is off, you may feed 2:1 sugar water. (2 sugar, one water) However, more often than not, if you have pulled honey, the 2nd brood box is full of honey and there will be no need to feed. The hive needs one full top box of honey to make it through the winter. Honey reserves being adequate, and mite loads are the two biggest factors that influence a hives preparedness for winter. I always stow away a few full honey frames for use if needed later in the spring.
Many thanks to Kim Rivera for these August notes!!