July 2024 Apiary Notes from Wally Thrale

At last the weather has become ‘summery’ and the bees are making er, ‘honey’! Up until a couple of weeks ago I thought there wouldn’t be a summer crop; bees were eating what stores they had and feeding was becoming a consideration. Now supers have filled with the warm sunshine.
Most of my colonies are on four supers to accommodate the bees. But these supers are now quite full and I would like to extract some of them. So to try and force the bees to finish processing the honey in the supers I want to extract, I have left two lighter supers below the crown board and two heavier ones above it. They have been left like this for a few days which allows bees to store fresh nectar in the supers below as they tend not to store it in the supers above. A quick ‘shake’ test with a frame next to the wall to test if honey comes out of the comb confirms the honey is safe to extract. Supers can then be returned to hopefully be filled again.
The poor weather we experienced for quite a while stopped many colonies from swarm preparations but that doesn’t mean swarming is over yet. It is important to inspect colonies for queen cells and carry out an artificial swarm if necessary (see last month’s notes for a couple of methods). Losing a swarm now that the weather has improved and a honey flow taking place means a hive will produce very little honey if any.

Now we are approaching July it is the time when wasps tend to make their appearance around our colonies. Being prepared is better than trying to stop wasps once they have targeted a hive. It is a good idea to reduce entrances down to around an inch or so, smaller than this for nucs. Once wasps have found a way into a hive it is very difficult to stop them. They can easily take out a weak colony or nuc in a short time. They then move on to the next target. Do get the foam ready and apply soon.

Many beekeepers treat for varroa in August which means no honey should be present. Do have your treatments ready to use as some of them are time and temperature critical. If they are not applied as per instructions they are barely effective. This is a waste of money but will also compromise the colony as the winter bees will not be in good condition. Winter bees need to be healthy (and lots of them) for a colony to survive to next spring.

On a different topic I recently wrote an article on rendering wax using a slow cooker. This I find a very effective way to render down spare wax into a block that can then be traded with the Association. Remember that if you want to buy more than 4 packs of foundation you will need to trade the equivalent weight in wax to buy discounted foundation. You can find the article by following the link:

Next Tuesday (2nd July) we will run a Zoom session to talk over any of these points or anything else you may wish to ask. The invitation will be sent out nearer the time.

Finally, it is not too late to make nucs to overwinter and this is something all beekeepers should try to do in case of a bad winter.