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.
Here are some things to be doing in your hive right now:
Monitor the honey flow. Periodically check the weight of the hive by hefting it from the back side once a week. You will notice when the hive is full or if the bees start eating up the stored honey. If you put your honey supers on at the beginning of June, then you may be able to extract honey now and put the super back on for another harvest at the end of July. A second option is to add another honey super right now and harvest the honey around August 1st.
Consolidate honey supers. As July progresses, rearrange frames if necessary. The goal is to minimize unprocessed nectar on the frames at harvest time. When ready to extract, take the frames with uncapped cells and shake them while holding them parallel to the ground. If nectar comes out, the frames are too wet to include in the harvest.
Extract your honey. Oregon colonies typically don’t store much honey after July. Remove honey supers and allow your hive the remainder of the season to fill up reserves down in the brood boxes. You have to be a good judge of how much honey you need to leave for the colony to survive our long and wet winters. Make a plan for removing honey supers at the end of the month and what you’ll need for the honey extraction process. Shonnard’s offers honey extractor rental, see more information below.
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. If applied properly, you should not have to treat for mites until early spring next year.
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 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 not available after the first week of 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 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.
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.
See you at our Hive Management Post Honey class on Saturday, July 13 at 11am. Register for the class here, give us a call, or come in-store to sign up.
Contributions by Karessa Torgerson, originally published in similar form in The Bee Line, July 2013
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
Speed King Electric Uncapping Hot Knife
Stainless Steel Cappings Scratcher
$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.
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.