Bee Thinking About – For June, 2013

For most of our readers, June is about the first month when apiary management isn’t too different in the north or the south. As always, what you need to do with your hives this time of year varies by your management philosophy, apiary goals, current weather, likely weather, and condition of your colonies.

Here are some things to be thinking about:

Check your brood patterns, especially on starting colonies. Not sure what to look for? There’s a great pictorial guide in our June, ’12 issue, available at

Is your bee log up-to-date? (Or perhaps still something you’ve been meaning to do?) Keep a good record. You’ll want to know what kind of queen you have in which hive, her age, her survival story. This will be especially helpful information come fall if you’re combining colonies. Track honey production/hive; this will also help guide decisions about the management of particular hives.

Anticipate what your bees will need, before they need it. And order it from Kelley’s before you need it. Stay ahead of the bees with supering.

Extraction—time to gear up, especially in the south where a 4th of July extraction party is often an annual event. Do you have strainer cloth, clean buckets, bottles, labels? Kelley’s does!

Fresh water—verify that it is available, especially if your region is experiencing drought conditions. A bird bath with bee landing pads is very helpful—consider using rocks or sponges in the bird bath, kiddie pool or trash can lid.

Stay ahead of the swarms and the nectar flow. Add boxes and see the article in this issue.

Ventilation—make sure those booming colonies don’t overheat.

Big red dots: splits, swarms, supercedures—they’ve all been going on whether you realized it or not. Consider marking your queen(s) so you know if the royal insect you see is the one responsible for the colony’s performance. Red is the color for 2013 queens.

Pests are probably thriving also. Keep a close eye on mite and beetle levels, and manage according to your apiary approach.

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