Jobs for the Month
- Continue to add supers ahead of the bees’ requirements when the lower box is full of bees not honey.
- Carry out detailed inspections on colonies that have not been split and take action if you find queen cells.
- Did you experience a June gap in the bees’ forage? If so, check food levels and react if necessary.
- Reduce entrances to avoid the risk of robbing by bees and wasps.
- Make wasp traps – see guidance online from BBKA, NBU, Dave Cushman, etc.
- Continue to monitor varroa drop and take appropriate action.
- Make sure you have equipment, jars and labels organised for your honey harvest.
- If ready, remove and extract sealed frames of honey and put the empties back in the evening for the bees to clean out.
- Always return them to the hives they came from and try not to leave bits of sticky comb lying about in the apiary.
- Leave bait hives out – there may still be swarms about.
- Look out for Asian hornet workers hawking outside your hives; baits should be protein based, e.g. cat food, tuna, prawns; observe bait stations and change bait often. Check trees for large secondary Asian hornet nests.
- Keep watching, learning, and asking questions.
**Check out the Tip of the Month**
Suggested frequency of visits – weekly
In July our colonies should be at maximum strength to take full advantage of the summer flowers. We beekeepers need to keep pace with them to ensure that they have enough room to store nectar and pollen and that the queens have room to lay (it’s not too late for swarms to abscond).
In our area, there will be a good show of bramble, clover, willowherb and heather. Following any June gap that may have occurred, ensure that either enough stores are being built or consider feeding if not.
There is less urgency to remove and extract honey now as the oilseed rape is over, and we can afford to wait until the frames are sealed before removing them. Before adding another super it’s a good idea to check the ones already on and to maximise space by rearranging frames and even boxes, at the same time moving uncapped or partially capped frames to the middle of the super for the bees to complete: they work in a chimney fashion so will go straight up the centre of the hive, ignoring the outer frames unless they need them. With the main honey harvest of the year in mind you may find you need to order extra equipment, foundation, jars or labels.
Monitor any reports of possible Asian hornet incursion into the UKand remain alert to the possibility of overwintered queens attempting to set up colonies. Any such queens will be confined to the nest now but workers will be seen hawking outside hives so remain vigilant, set up bait stations and keep checking trees in your vicinity for possible secondary nests.
Remain mindful of colony health and be alert to signs of robbing by stronger colonies or wasps – it may well be time to get out those wasp traps (or make some more).