Bees in August

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.

Feeding Syrup

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.

Feed Protein

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.

Addressing the Challenges of the Summer Edible Garden

In a recent newsletter, we asked about what challenges you face while growing an edible garden in summer. The response was great! We look forward to creating more ways to help you overcome these challenges. For now, we’ve put together this blog that includes various resources, and possible solutions.

As always, we invite you to come to our store with pictures or plant samples so we can examine the issue and find out what can be done, together. Thank you for learning and growing with us!


  • Use mulch – applying a 2-3 inch layer of mulch around the base of your plants can help maintain moisture in the soil for longer. Mulch also regulates the temperature of the garden bed. Check out our post Mulching – Advantages & Application for great tips on mulching.
  • Provide shade during extreme heat – When temperatures are expected to be in the 90’s or higher, then consider providing shade, especially for young plants. Use a lightweight shade cloth draped over tomato cages (that are not being used for tomatoes), or garden stakes, to shield your plants. This is also help the soil to not dry out so quickly.
  • Learn how to setup a drip system – Make a pot of your favorite sipping beverage, be prepared to take notes and dive into our Irrigation playlist on YouTube. The playlist includes a short drip irrigation basics video, and 2 full class recordings packed with in-depth information on how to get a drip irrigation system setup.

Plant Disease

This is a big topic so here are general tips on prevention, and how to deal with common issues:

  • Fungal problems can generally be avoided with good drainage and proper plant spacing. In addition removing old dead leaves from the area is another way to prevent fungal diseases.
  • Dormant spray fruit trees – In winter, spray trees with copper to control fungal and bacterial diseases, or with spray oil to control mites and aphids. Stop spraying when flower buds begin to show color. Learn more about copper sprays and when to apply HERE.
  • Summer disease controlMonterey Complete Disease Control is a certified organic fungicide/bactericide suitable for use in vegetable gardens and orchards, as well as on ornamentals.
  • Do your best to control the spread – Viruses are usually transferred via aphids so be sure to keep aphids in check.
  • Fertilize – Feeding your plants can help them grow strong and have better resilience to pest and disease pressure. Watch our YouTube video, Fertilizing Vegetables to learn more.
  • Apply lime – Many vegetable plants develop disease-like symptoms from a lack of calcium. Tomatoes, zucchini, and peppers are popular crops that suffer from the common disorder, blossom end blight. Providing lime at planting is helpful to prevent this from occurring.

Controlling Destructive Insects

  • Summer insect barrier – Using a summer insect barrier provides protection from insects and garden pests, thus reducing the need for pesticides. This lightweight fabric provides an effective screen against most insects such as thrips, aphids, whiteflies and insects that are virus carriers, and also larger pests like birds, rabbits and deer. Use the fabric to drape loosely over the plant bed, or over hoop supports to avoid weighing down your plants, and secure with landscape staples.

Dealing with Critters & Deer

  • Deer, Rabbits, Voles – Apply repellents like Plantskydd.
  • Voles, Mole & Pests – Watch our class recording on dealing with common garden intruders.

Harvesting & Preventing Food Waste

Limited Space

  • Grow in containers – Watch our class recording, Grow a Container Garden, to learn how to maximize the use of your outdoor space, while maintaining the health of your vegetables and herbs.
  • Companion planting – Knowing which plants grow well together may help to utilize your growing space to it’s full potential. Watch our Companion Planting class recording to learn more.

Beekeeping in July

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.

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.

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. If you catch a mass robbery in progress, a shower head on a garden hose can help to stop it in its tracks!

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.

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.

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
Mesh filters
Honey jars and lids

Give us a call to schedule or for more information!  541-929-3524.