Bee Thinking About - For August, 2012

Many of you who responded to our survey said you appreciated the monthly reminder of things to be thinking about or doing in your apiary. Great idea, thank you! We’ll be doing a new monthly section of things you should bee thinking about, along with covering some of those topics in articles.

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Natural Drop / 24 hour Infestation Levels
0-8 Low
8-15 Moderate
15-30 High
30+ Critical


It’s a challenge—our readers we now know are from Europe to South America to Canada, so we’ll speak in geographical generalities. As always, your feedback is welcome--send it to

If it is late summer for you … (sorry south of the equator readers!)

  • Brood pattern: check that it is good. You need a strong-laying queen going into the fall.

    • If there isn’t a good brood pattern, do you have at least 20 pounds of honey in the hive? That’s what it takes for the queen to keep laying, so that could be the cause of a weak brood pattern.

    • If less than 20 pounds, consider supplemental feeding.

    • If so—consider requeening, or combining the hive.

  • Don’t be too alarmed if your hives smell like a locker room when you open them; goldenrod stores will do that.

  • Mite population out of control? Do you see deformed wings on your bees? If not, have you done a check with a debris board and some Vaseline or vegetable oil? Counting mites on the board may require a magnifying glass.

If you are in the moderate to critical stage you can do one of two things:

  1. Requeen with a hygienic queen and check again in 5-6 weeks or

  2. Treat, carefully following package directions.

Hive beetle population out of control? Resist medically treating a colony when only a few beetles are present—keep strong hives to keep the beetles in control. Also consider:

  • Treating the ground under and around the hive with a mineral salt; 50 lbs costs generally less than $7, this will just prevent the larvae from successfully leaving the hive to go into its pupae stage and starting the cycle again.

  • Assure your hives are in a sunny dry (ground) location to assure that the environment is not great for the beetle. Use beetle traps in the hive but be careful with the oil used to trap, as honeybees do not fare well with oil either. Fill traps no higher than about 1/3 of the way to prevent spillage.

  • Freezing frames with beetle larvae will also kill the beetle population.

  • Consider feeding away from the hive to not attract beetles.

  • See suggestions from Clemson University, in ‘Healthy Bees’ section in this issue.

If you’re in the south: because of the drought and the nectar flow being long over, things are definitely winding down. Start reducing the hive to ensure there are plenty of bees to patrol it, keeping beetles and other critters in check. It may be time to pull supers.

If you’re in the north: you probably have another respectable month of honey flow, depending upon local conditions. Don’t be too aggressive about providing supers. This time of year other pests’ populations are high; don’t give the bees any unnecessary space.

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