Bee Thinking About - For September, 2012

Here are some things, geographically and weather-dependent, to consider for your apiary about now. Remember, this is in geographical generalities, as we have readers ranging from northern Canada to Paraguay.

As always, your comments and contributions welcome! Please email

Things to check:

Brood pattern: Check that it is good, although its size will be diminishing. (See photo, last month’s issue.) If you don’t have a good brood pattern, do you have at least 20 pounds of honey in the hive? (That’s what the queen needs to keep laying.) If your area has suffered from the drought, food for bees may be hard to come by. If you have less than 20 pounds, consider supplemental feeding.

Hive beetles and Varroa mite: They can still compromise a hive’s health. (See last month’s issue for suggestions on how to detect and address them.)

Honey: Sometime in September is about as late as most beekeepers leave supers that they’ll be robbing on the hive. Unless you’re in the middle of a substantial nectar flow, by removing supers you’ll be encouraging bees to consolidate what they need in the boxes you’re leaving for the winter.

What do you do with partially filled supers? Lots of options:

  1. If you have a safe way to store them from pests, you can do so for later open feeding, like a balmy November day when bees are out flying, or later use, like next early spring. Some folks freeze them.

  2. You can “open feed” with them now—scratching open the cappings and placing them about sixty feet from any hives so you don’t set off a robbing frenzy close to a hive.

  3. If you have multiple hives and multiple partially filled supers, you could mix and match frames to form a super of partially filled supers, which would perhaps be ideal to set atop your power hive to try to consolidate into their stores for the winter, or leave it on the power hive over winter in case they run short.

Space: Continue to reduce the hive to ensure the bees can patrol everything and keep critters in check (South) and keep the hive warm enough (North).

Mouse guards! Installing them if you’re in the North, or at least having them ready; getting ready to install them in the South.

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