Beekeeping calendar - What to do in August

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Beekeeping calendar - What to do in August

Beekeeping calendar august
With the mating season coming to an end, the drones, whose sole function is the fertilization of the queens, therefore becomes unnecessary. The bee society does not tolerate these mouths to be fed without reason to be separated from them at this time. The elimination is done either gently (the workers no longer feed them and prohibits them from entering the hive) or in a more expeditious manner. It is interesting to note that the colonies with laying worker bee keep drones during the winter.


Honey flow simulation / Resumption of spawning

The queen's spawning is primarily a function of the season, but is also influenced by many factors, not the least of which is the amount of food available. The advantage of taking advantage of this situation is obvious when we know that the eggs laid in August will constitute the winter bees, so important when the colonies restart in the first fine days. As it is essential to winter populations that are as strong as possible, we can therefore stimulate the egg-laying (or rather slow down the fall) of the queen by providing food between the end of the significant honeydew (end of July) and the beginning of winter feeding (which will inevitably lead to a blockage of laying). Small doses of light syrup (1: 1) will therefore be distributed regularly to be consumed and not stored. For example, 150 gr per day poured into a feeder located on the hive.

Queen bee and cells with new eggs

Bring together the bee population

There is no point in wintering weak populations and keeping elderly or deficient queens. We must keep only strong colonies capable of facing the winter and to give results the following spring. We will never bring together weak colonies! Instead, these queens will be separated and the bees (including the brood) will be distributed among the performing colonies. Eventually, we can keep small populations (with good queens!) In order to have reserve ’material’ in early spring. This can come in handy at a time when queens are not yet commercially available. Nevertheless, these rescue colonies will be wintered on at least 5 frames.
Bring together the bee population
Adding brood frames to another colony

Introduction of queens

This is a good time for the introduction of young queens. However, in the second half of August, bees tend to accept introduced queens quite easily. Probably because they no longer have the possibility of carrying out a clean breeding. The usual precautions are nevertheless essential and the introduction must imperatively be preceded by the withdrawal of the existing queen or by full orphanage.

Introduction of a new queen bee
Introduction of a new queen bee

Putting the hives in order for wintering

The size of the brood gradually decreases and the populations are about to tighten up to form the winter cluster. They therefore no longer need the same volume and it is necessary to reduce the colony by removing a few frames (in general, we go from 12 to 10, or 10 to 8 in hives with 10 frames, but this depends on the size of the colony). This will be done just before the start of the fall feeding. Care will be taken to remove the frames of least interest (either nearly empty, or old or damaged). We will of course leave in place all frames containing brood, one or two frames of pollen as well as one or two frames containing food reserves.


Reserve estimate

After reducing the colony and before starting to feed it is useful to estimate the reserves contained in the hive. Indeed, important differences are sometimes noted between different populations. This estimate is made simultaneously with the previous operation, during the last major visit of the season. Knowing that 15.5 inch² of combs (on both sides) contain approximately 2.2 lbs of honey, we roughly estimate the reserves in order to be able to calculate later. The quantity of syrup to be filled in September. Of course, beekeepers with many hives have more expeditious ways (by weighing the hive) but which will sometimes lead to giving too much food (waste and lack of space for the bees) or, more seriously, not enough (death of the colony during winter or spring).
Reserve estimate
Reserve estimating

Avoid looting

At this time, bees are particularly plunderers! Indeed, the beekeeper withheld from them the provisions they had striven to collect and the honey resources are now almost zero. There is therefore a "wind of panic" which settles in the colonies and they are ready to do anything to "steal" the honey where it is found (in other hives or in the apiary). It is therefore essential not to leave frames and equipment stuck with honey lying outside. Looting can start very quickly, but it is often difficult to stop. The bees not only look for honey elsewhere (which would not be a drama in itself) but engage in pitched battles that can lead to the disappearance of queens and entire colonies.
For the reasons mentioned, it is essential to allow bees to effectively defend access to their hive by greatly reducing entry. The sliding doors therefore make it possible to reduce the flight holes to a few inches in width and +/- 8 mm in height.
Reduce the entrance of the hive to improve defense

Anti-varroa treatment

The current situation of varroasis requires one or more treatments during the year. Hives that are not subject to it will be condemned at short notice. All beekeepers worthy of the name must bitterly regret this situation, but it is a reality and to ignore it would be an often fatal mistake for the colonies. It is, of course, not out of mirth that we introduce chemicals into our hives. The undesirable effects still possible must be minimized by an exclusive use apart from the presence of supers on the hives. As the solutions proposed and / or currently recognized are undergoing rapid change, it is advisable to refer to beekeeping publications, to press releases from your beekeeping associations and to manufacturers' instructions for use. Currently, the recommended treatments are based on Apivar® and Apiguard®. Apivar® ribbons should be placed in pairs in the hives (between frames containing brood) as soon as possible after the supers are removed (early August at the latest) and stay there for 8 weeks.

Summer honey processing

The summer honey has been extracted (usually late July / early August) and needs to be cared for in order to prepare for potting and future marketing.

skimming

Extracting honey introduces a large amount of small air bubbles which gives it a "frothy" appearance. It should therefore be left to stand for about 48 hours after extraction so that the air can rise to the surface of the honey ripener. This scum will then be removed using a spatula or absorbent paper. If necessary, this skimming can be repeated once or twice. At the end of this operation, the honey will be free of air and regain a clean appearance.
Honey scum
Honey scum


Seeding honey

The honey will now crystallize naturally. The rate of crystallization and the quality of it (the size of the crystals formed) will depend on the floral origin of the honey and the ambient temperature. While crystallization can be naturally fine, it can also lead to the formation of coarse crystals that are unpleasant to the mouth. To avoid such a defect, we will therefore force a fine crystallization. This is done by mixing our honey with 10% ideal crystallization honey. To avoid a significant use of this extra honey (which can be bought in the store or, better yet, from a previous harvest), the operation can be carried out in two or three successive phases. For example, 11 lbs of new honey will be mixed with 1.1 lbs of this seed honey. This quantity will crystallize quickly in the fridge (24 hours) and will in turn be mixed with 110 lbs of the collected honey. We will then obtain a honey ready to crystallize perfectly.
Crystallized honey
Crystallized honey


Potting up the honey

This will be carried out without delay after crystallization. The use of glass jars with a metal twist-off lid is clearly needed. Impeccable hygiene is naturally required during this operation (as during others) and your product will be made attractive by affixing a personalized label.

Honey jars
Honey jars


Store beehive frames

Wax melting

The frames will be sorted and the wax from the decommissioned frames will be melted and recovered for other purposes (embossed waxes, candles, polish, etc.). This will be the case with dilapidated or damaged frames as well as those containing too much pollen.

Cleaning

Before storage, all equipment will be carefully cleaned to ensure maximum hygiene during winter storage and to be ready for the following season.

Storage

The major enemy of beekeepers in winter is the wax moth! The larva of this butterfly feeds on wax and causes extensive damage to stored frames. Knowing that it fears light and drafts, certain measures must be taken to avoid unpleasant surprises in the spring. The ideal is to make "chimneys" of supers or place the frames in the open air or in the light. The use of B401® or freezing the frames are excellent alternatives.
Frames storage
Frames storage in the open air
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