July is here and that means honey flow in your hive needs to be checked to determine if it’s time to harvest. Your hive work in July will have a definite impact on your colony’s chance of winter survival. During this time your goal is to create the optimal conditions for development of healthy winter bees.
Concerning Honey Harvest and the State of Your Colony in 2022
In addition to a late freeze that destroyed many important blooms (fruit trees in particular) it has been an extremely wet spring and bees have not had much opportunity to forage and build their wax and honey stores. Many beekeepers received their new nucs as late as early June, which is usually the time to be adding honey supers. Depending on the circumstances of your colonies, different actions will need to be taken in regards to honey production and harvest.
- If your colony does NOT yet fill 2 brood boxes, honey harvest will not be an option this year. Continue to feed and build your colony so they will be populous enough to pull through winter. I recommend feeding a 2:1 sugar:water syrup in addition to your protein patties. This is a heavy feed that will not only increase food availability, but will also increase wax production as the bees will be storing this food as well as consuming it. Your bees should have 60-80 pounds of honey to overwinter or around 1 full brood box of honey. You can estimate the weight by hefting the back of your hive.
- If your colony does fill 2 brood boxes, go ahead and add a honey super! Better late than never!
- If your super is equipped with fully drawn comb, there is still time to get some honey to spin. Add a queen excluder between your super and your brood chambers to ensure the queen and her brood stay out of your honey box. Make sure to remove and harvest honey supers by the end of July to allow your bees to build up enough of their own stores for winter.
- If your super has brand new frames without drawn wax, you are not likely to get any substantial honey harvest, but you will likely get most of your frames drawn out with wax for next year. Remove this super by the end of July to allow your bees to focus on building up their stores for winter. Make a plan for removing honey supers and what you’ll need for the honey extraction process. Shonnard’s offers honey extractor rental, see more information below.
- If your colony does fill 2 brood boxes and already has a honey super, you likely had bees that have overwintered from last year or did a great job building from a package! During your bi-weekly hive inspections, keep tabs on how full your honey super is. You may be able to harvest your super now and replace it to do another harvest at the end of July. If you prefer to harvest all at once, you can leave your full honey super on and add another honey super. Just make sure to harvest by the end of July to allow your bees to build up enough of their own stores for winter. Make a plan for removing honey supers and what you’ll need for the honey extraction process. Shonnard’s offers honey extractor rental, see more information below.
Additional Hive Work throughout July
Create a hive treatment plan. You should be monitoring mite levels throughout July as colonies can be lost to Varroa by mid-August. You should apply treatments no later than August 15th so your winter bees are raised with minimal exposure to mites and mite-borne diseases.
Feed with pollen (protein patties). The bees being raised at this time will raise the “super bees” that will overwinter and ensure the colony survives until spring. Protein is the integral nutrient those bees need to store in their bodies to accomplish such a feat.
Minimize heat stress. Provide ventilation, a water source and some afternoon shade, if possible, for your colony.
Watch for robbing. Blackberry bloom time ends in mid-July for most of Oregon which often marks the beginning of robbing season. With weaker colonies, reduce the entrances especially if disease issues are suspected. Avoid spilling syrup or honey near the hives and try your best to keep hives open only as long as needed. Keep a “robbing screen” on hand in case you need to stop a mass robbery.
Resolve queen issues. Queens are generally available through August. Correct a queen now so they’ll have time to collect themselves for winter. If colonies are not diseased, look to recombine hives as necessary.
Assist swarmed colonies. Colonies are weakest at 5 to 6 weeks after they swarmed. Reduce entrances, confirm the new queen is laying well, and combine swarmed colonies with other colonies if necessary. Plan to feed the swarmed colonies in August if they are light on stores.
Contributions by Karessa Torgerson, originally published in similar form in The Bee Line, July 2013
Here at Shonnard’s we have mite treatments and protein patties, as well as honey extractor rental and honey extraction supplies. Please call if you have any questions on this process or products.
HONEY EXTRACTOR RENTAL
Extracting your honey just got easier! Investing in extracting equipment can be a big expense for a hobby beekeeper, so we’ve put together a top-of-the-line extractor rental package that enables you to extract your honey with ease at a fraction of the cost.
– Stainless steel Maxant 3/6/9 hand-crank, belt driven Extractor
– 5 Gallon Uncapping Tank includes top and bottom tank pieces with lid, metal grate, wooden crossbar with nail and hardware & honey gate
– Speed King Electric Uncapping Hot Knife
– Stainless Steel Uncapping Tines
– Honey harvesting instructions
$50 for two business days. Extractor is available for pickup at 9 am the day of your reservation and can be returned by 4 pm the following day. If you want to pick up the extractor on a Sunday, please consider that we do not open until 10am.
Recommended Additional Equipment (to be supplied by customer):
Plastic bucket with gate (two is ideal)
Stainless steel double sieve
Honey jars and lids
Give us a call to schedule or for more information! 541-929-3524.