July In The Apiary

Aaah July,

This is why we’re beekeepers.  The bees are approaching their peak.  They’re so busy with foraging and life that we are pretty much ignored.

Inspections this month should be pretty focused (unless you just want to enjoy watching and playing with your bees).  Any interruptions or confusion you cause, are times that they aren’t foraging and working at full capacity.  A quick look for swarm cells (although the swarm season is almost over); overall brood quality and pattern; current stores and change from last time; personality and mites.  This can be accomplished with minimal disruption with a combination of looking through the tops of the bars, cracking open between hive bodies, and looking at 1 or 2 frames.

If poor pattern, few brood/eggs or just not thriving, think about requeening (if you can find a queen).  Remember, if they have a queen problem, it won’t resolve on it’s own.

Your bees are thriving, their bedfellows, the Varroa mites are as well.  Do a mite check.  If the levels are over your personal limit (for your bees, not for you personally) (3% for me this time of year) consider treatment (read and follow the directions very carefully)

At my house, the Rabbit brush is starting to color slightly and sage brush isn’t too long afterwards.  Might be a good time to note what other plants your bees are visiting to adjust the garden for next year.  Dearths are indicated by lack of pollen coming in, lack of additional nectar stores, sometimes reduction of drone numbers and new brood and sometimes defensiveness.  Not much you can do about them, other than minimizing inspections at those times and when inspecting, keep short and covered.

As this is the big productive month, you’ll want to make sure your hive has plenty of room.  If you think the current space is pretty full, you don’t want to give them any impediments to storing honey, add a super.

It’s a good month to sit and watch the hive activities.  GO GIRLS GO!

-Allen Engle

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