Monday, July 10, 2017

MID-JULY REPORT by beekeeper Fred

Well we are in the dog days of summer now.  It’s getting too warm for my old dog to go out for a long walk and he prefers to lay on the cool basement floor.  Usually about this time of year the nectar flow also really drops off.  But this year the bees seem to be still working hard at bringing in nectar.  Yellow and white sweet clover is still blooming.  In fact over the weekend I noticed 5 of my hives were busy drawing new comb and filling the top honey super past the 25% point.  Based past years I normally wouldn’t bother with adding a super.  However, with the very wet June in central Wisconsin I decided to be an optimist and added a super to each hive.  I still have hopes for a bumper harvest this August. 
Be sure to verify your hives are queenright.  Just last week I noted another queenless hive.  I decided to write off this hive.  The population was just too low to successfully recover prior to fall.  If I were a better beekeeper I would have noticed the extremely slow hive buildup and taken a corrective action sooner.  I’ll put this down as a lesson learned and add it (slow buildup) to my check list (in my head) for next year.

In mid-June I also gave each hive a shot of oxalic acid vapor to knock down the mite populations.  I checked a few hives with a powdered sugar roll and also using witness bottom boards.  The sugar rolls showed no mites, but the bottom witness boards showed my hives are not mite free.
My queen rearing attempts has had its ups and downs.  The spring was too cold and wet.  Consequently the queen yield was low.  I was getting more requests than I could supply.  Then my breeder queen quit laying.  She actually lived on for a month after that.  Since about mid-June, things have improved.  I was able to get a replacement Ankle Biter breeder queen.   Right now I am grafting twice per week with the aim of putting all the mating nucs into use.   I hope to have a large number of queens for use for re-queening in the fall.  

The honey harvest in mid-August is fast approaching.  Count the number of full honey supers in your apiary.  Each full super equates to about 3 gallons (36 pounds) of golden honey.  Do you have enough buckets and bottles to hold your harvest?  More than once I have tried to get bottles in September, only to be told there were none in stock.  Plan ahead.  

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