Sunday, June 19, 2016

QUEENRIGHT? by beekeeper Fred

The honeyflow in east central Wisconsin has been in progress for weeks now.  Your hives are probably growing in height as you add honey supers.  With the honey supers in place most beekeepers are reluctant to remove them to conduct a hive inspection.  Its a lot of heavy lifting to remove and replace the honey supers.  So we get lazy and stop inspection the hive for a laying queen; thinking I will get around to it when I remove the honey in the fall.  This is when disaster strikes. 

Just last week I discovered another queenless hive.  The bees had been busy filling the two honey supers and I neglected my duty to do a periodic hive inspection.  Too slowly I recognized they had stopped filling the supers.  A little investigation quickly revealed the hive to be queenless.  If I had conducted the periodic inspections as I had originally planned in the spring I would have noted the queenless condition up to a month ago.   

So do to my neglect I have lost the possibility of getting a honey crop from this hive.  Hopefully by re-queening it now the hive will be able to strengthen itself enough to be ready for winter.  

So after mentally kicking myself I have resolved that on July 1st I will inspect all of my hives.  I will use this opportunity to verify that there is eggs and larvae in each hives.  I will also at this time do a midsummer treatment for mites.  Yes, it is a lot of work destacking and restacking a hive but the effort is worth it.   

Current recommendations are to do a midsummer mite knockdown just before the bees begin raising the winter bees.  This will reduce the mites and associated mite born viruses thus resulting in healthier winter bees.  A mite treatment is also recommended after the honey harvest in August/September.  

If you are planning on re-queening prior to winter now is a good time to locate a queen supplier and getting your queens on order.  

1 comment:

Gerard Schubert said...

Good reminder! I was out harvesting capped honey frames and a couple of hives seemed a little weak so I went into the deeps. All were queenright except one.

I had removed a few frames of capped honey from this hive a week ago and several frames were 80% capped at the time. Today they hadn't improved and there didn't seem to be as many bees around so I went looking. There were only a couple of dozen capped worker cells and all of the cells in the rest of the brood chamber were clean. Very clean. No eggs, no brood, nothing. I was able to procure a queen and she is currently in the hive, in her cage. The bees showed no hostility when I placed her in between frames in the lower deep, and a number of bees came up to her as if to pick up some pheromone or feed her. But they didn't sting or ball her.......then.

If I would have checked a week ago a new queen would already be laying. As it is I lost at least a week of bee production which results in a loss of honey production. But there's still time for them to recover. I'm glad I caught it today.