Hope all is well in the hives. We’re coming up on mid- August which is widely considered to be the start of the beekeeping year!
By this time your honey supers are off (or should be taken off ASAP – reference our July blog), you’re checking mite levels and treating if necessary, and the bees are continuing to collect nectar to store for winter. The condition of your hive now will influence the performance of your colony this upcoming year.
In the meantime, you can feed your hive protein patties. Feeding protein will cause the queen to lay more eggs and the brood that is being raised in your colony now will become the nurse bees that raise your winter brood. If they are not well-nourished, relatively mite free, and otherwise healthy, they will be unable to rear the robust winter bees that are needed to help your colony survive in late winter/early spring.
By the time September is in full swing, you want your brood to be as near to the bottom of the colony as possible. What induces a colony to move the brood down? Incoming nectar! If your brood is still high, this is a good indication that your bees will need to be fed with syrup; consider feeding 2 to 1 syrup to help them grow into the new frames.
The brood nest should not be moving up this time of year. If it is, your bees are eating through their winter stores. Begin feeding right away! Over-feeding syrup could cause the bees to store it in the brood chamber if they run out of room, so watch for that.
Fall is the most important time of the year to feed protein. Your bees need to be fat and healthy going into winter, and they should have several frames of pollen in the bottom box of the colony. If they don’t, you will do them big favors when you feed supplemental protein patties.
Access to Water
Water is very important for temperature regulation, brood rearing, and nectar processing. If your bees don’t have a water source nearby, be sure to provide one. On triple-digit days, watering the ground around your hive helps to keep your colony cooler, just make sure not to get the hive itself wet!
Reduce Robbing Pressure
Robbing season is here, and Western yellow jackets and other robbers are abundant in late summer and fall. Watch weak colonies and reduce their entrances with an entrance reducer, especially if you are feeding them. Now is a good time to reduce the entrance down so the bees have a smaller entrance to defend; use a robbing screen to stop attacks.
Yellow Jacket Traps
Yellow jackets are always a nuisance for honey bees. Trap them with store-bought yellow jacket traps, if you are concerned. The traps this time of year will fill up fast so check those 2 or 3 times a week. The best thing would be to follow the yellow jackets back to their hive and kill the whole hive, but that can be quite difficult. Generally speaking, the yellow jackets cannot kill a colony that isn’t already weak for other reasons, but they can kill a fair number of foragers. Next spring, set out traps in April and May to catch the queens! Every queen you catch is one less nest to contend with.
How to Apply Mite Treatments
It is a tricky time right now as varroa mite treatments should be completed before the 15th of the month.
- Formic Pro is good to use this time of year but we need 10 days of below 90 degrees. If your hive is small (less than 10 frames of bees) then begin to do half a treatment of Formic Pro (one strip) for 10 days; remove and replace with the second strip for another 10 days.
- Apiguard is also an effective mite treatment and can be used during hotter weather (up to 105,) but requires 2 treatments to be effective because the medicine does not work on capped brood.
Watch this short video to see the easy steps of applying the initial application of these two different treatment formulas.