With the start of July I felt it was time to do a midsummer inspection of all my hives. I am about two thirds of the way through them. It’s not an easy task because many of the hives have several heavy honey supers on them. First things I look for is eggs and brood which signify the hive is queenright. Even if I don’t visually see the queen I know she is present and OK if there are eggs. I found three hives that had neither and had empty supercedure queen cells. Surprisingly, I found these condition in hives that had been good performers; ie putting away 30 to 60 pounds of honey in the supers. I will need to inspect these hives again in about two weeks to verify that the supercedure queen cells have allowed the hives to naturally requeen. One of the three did requeen and I saw a small patch of new eggs. If not, then I will need to take action and add a queen.
While I have the honey supers off for the brood chamber inspection I take time to reposition the frames in each super. Those on the outside are usually not filled to the extent of those in the center. So I swap positions of the inner and outer frames. By repositioning them I am able to get the bees to pack more honey in each super. This makes the decapping process slightly easier when it gets around to be honey harvest time.
I am also taking this opportunity to apply a half dose of miticide to knock the varroa mite population down. Less mites means less transmission of various mite carried viruses. Reducing the mite and virus load is important because soon the queen will begin laying the eggs for the workers that will become the overwintering bees. Remember that it takes almost a month for these eggs to become workers. CAUTION: Not all miticides can be used when the honey supers are on. READ the instructions on your miticide of choice. MAQS and Oxalic acid can be applied when honey supers are on.
Finally, this inspection gets you thinking about what to do with the non performing hives. Some hives for whatever reason just don’t build up and make surplus honey. Now is the time to identify those hives. If you requeen now there is a chance the colony will strengthen enough to make it through winter.