Wow, I had to put on my thinking cap at our last meeting!  Many thanks to Dr. Ramesh Sagili for his July talk on honey bee nutrition and the modality of operation of various mite treatments as well as a great inspection demonstration.  Of particularly interest was his warning/heads up about the sterol, derived exclusively from pollen, which is needed by our larva to progress from one stage to another (no sterol, no adult bees).  I imagine in the future many of us will be “salting” our pollen substitute patties with some actual pollen.  It was also kind of surprising the lack of knowledge we have in how this stuff works.  

Hopefully you’ve been sharing in this (for many beekeepers) very productive summer.  I’ve been hearing from several first year folks that their nucs and packages from this year are actually filling a super.  AND I’m sorry if you’re not one of them.

Remember while your hives are booming, the mites are booming in the background.  You’ll need to concentrate on keeping the mites under control to keep the bees’ strength up as well as keep them raising brood, foraging and “bringing in the bacon (nectar)”.  Additionally, if there’s a nectar dearth in your area, weaker hives may have “dry brood”, brood with no royal jelly or brood food which does not progress to adulthood.  If you want them to improve, you’ll need to provide food, and probably some brood to get them going again.

For many beekeepers, August is the month to harvest your honey.  There are still some nectar flows (rabbitbrush and sagebrush) and in the past, some of us had waited until later September to harvest honey hoping to get the last little bit.  I’ve started harvesting in mid August.  Harvesting in August, allows for more choices in late summer mite treatments, it also gives more time for the hive to complete food storage and backfilling the brood chamber with food as they stop raising brood and, finally, it is warmer and easier to extract the honey than it is in September and October.

The bees that are going to be keeping your hive going through the winter (Winter Bees (diutinus bees)) are being raised in late August and early September (remember Vitigellin).  This is the time you want your hive to have as low as possible levels of disease and mites and the strength and food levels as great as possible.

As Fall is coming, start looking at your weak hives.  Are you going to be able to get them up to speed soon, or will you need to combine with another week hive to make it successfully through the winter.  Or are they at a low enough level that they’re going to die anyway L

In years past, we would expect our queens to be productive for 2 or sometimes 3 years.  Nowadays, many folks are finding that their queens are having declining productivity after 1 to 1 and a half years.  Next spring, you’re going to want your queen to be vigorous and energetic for a quick and energetic population ramp up.  Is your current queen already 1 year old.  Maybe you’ll want to requeen this Fall.  If she’s only 6 months old, perhaps requeening next spring would fit the bill.

Remember that August 28 will be our annual COBKA picnic.  Bring anything you’d like to share, including stories (true or not).  Also, the photography competition is heating up.  We’ve received some great entries.  Prizes and great notoriety to you and the OSU Honeybee lab.

Allen Engle

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