August 2018 Beekeeper’s Corner

By Gerald Przybylski

Jerry has been an East-Oakland beekeeper since 2011; local bees preferred.

The dearth is on for most of us. The dearth is also the robbing season.

Provide colonies with the smallest entrances they seem comfortable with.

A small or weak (or queen-less) colony may require an entrance the size of one bee!

A strong colony can manage with an entrance a couple of inches wide.

Colonies on screen bottom boards with free air circulation below the screen can do climate control even with a one-bee entrance opening.

Colonies on solid bottoms (migratory bottom boards) need screen blocking the part of their entrance. Fold metal screen into a “U” or shape it into a “U” around a dowel, and use it to block most of the entrance.

If bees beard out a lot, consider shading the top cover of the hive to reduce heat accumulation… or insulate.

Keep water sources full all the time. If you think your water source will run dry during your vacation, arrange to have someone refill it, or use an inverted jug of water suspended above the bee’s watering station with the mouth 1/4″ below the rim of the watering station. As the bees consume the water, the air seal breaks; air leaks into the bottle; water dribble out raising the water level again, and reestablishing the seal. A gallon jug will last a week… maybe two.

Commercial beekeepers re-queen every year to insure the best survival of colonies through the coming winter. It’s time to evaluate queens and colonies. Consider producing some queens to replace the aging moms while drones are still abundant.

In Randy Oliver describes a method that he feels the backyard beekeeper can master.  The actual grafting might be intimidating, and the production of dozens of queens may exceed our needs.

The bees are capping the honey that was uncapped last month. Time to harvest. Time to reduce hives to near winter size.  Empty supers won’t be filled unless we have a strong late flow. Reduce space, but keep checking as the rains begin.

If your healthy colonies aren’t bringing in pollen, and if they don’t have a frame or more of stored pollen, consider offering a small piece of protein supplement to promote good bee health into the fall.  Keep the offering small because small-hive-beetle larva love to eat protein supplement too.

Review your notes. Plan for next year. Plan for how many colonies you want to take into winter to have the right number of survivors next spring. The Local Bee Initiative is just getting off the ground. It’s not too late for some queen production, nuc production, and general splitting to try to keep the genetics local.  Extra queens that splits produce can be used to start new colonies with.

As you take equipment off, clean it up. Scrape the propolis. Repaint supers. Rewire. Reinforce…