Summer Beekeeping in TN

What you do (or don't do) over the next 3 months will mostly determine if you are still a beekeeper next spring.
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Plastic Foundation – Love it, or hate it?

I'm not at all iffy about my preference for plastic foundation, and here is one very big reason why:
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Beekeeping tasks this month – June

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It’s June, it’s officially the summer season… what should I be doing as a beekeeper this month?

The following list was published by Dr. John A. Skinner (Professor & Apiculture Specialist @ UT) in the Beekeeping in Tennessee publication from UT (PB 1745), and is available at the following URL: https://utextension.tennessee.edu/publications/documents/PB1745.pdf

Seasonal Management: June

• Combine all swarms issuing after June 1 with weak colonies or feed them constantly until they are a full-sized hive.

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What to do when you are Queenless

You think your hive is queenless - you can't spot the queen, and you don't see any eggs. What now? First, don't panic. Next, if at all possible give the hive a frame of young open brood or eggs from another hive
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Be Careful with your Queen Excluder

Almost every beginning beekeeper has a queen excluder that came with a kit - and almost everyone is anxious to deploy it so that they can get a super or two of nice pristine honey without any brood to worry about. To everything there is a season, and your first year with bees is not the time to use your excluder - at least not like that. Every year I get a question or run across someone who is wondering why their bees won't go through their queen excluder - to get to the super of bare foundation sitting on top. Well the short answer is that they probably never will.
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Beekeeping tasks this month – May

Tulip Poplar - one of our main nectar producing plants - just began blooming in our area.

Tulip Poplar – one of our main nectar producing plants – just began blooming in our area.

It’s May, the poplars are popping and the nectar is flowing… what should I be doing as a beekeeper this month?

The following list was published by Dr. John A. Skinner (Professor & Apiculture Specialist @ UT) in the Beekeeping in Tennessee publication from UT (PB 1745), and is available at the following URL: https://utextension.tennessee.edu/publications/documents/PB1745.pdf

Seasonal Management: May

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Swarm Prevention – Cut down Splits

If you have looked into your hives in the last few days it is very likely that you have seen signs of swarm preparation - rows of queen cups on the bottom of frames, dense populations, nectar choked hives with little room for the queen to lay in - maybe even swarm cells.
Posted in Honey Bee How to, Seasonal, Swarms | 4 Comments

Queens For Pennies

April is prime time for making increase (at least it is when there isn't a cold front blasting through) and while splitting hives is simple, effective and helps to manage swarming - you might also be interested in giving queen rearing a try. Now is the time to go for it if you are.
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Splitting Honey Bee Hives for Increase

This article was originally published on Feb 20, 2014 but contains seasonally relevant information. Like every other living thing our bees have the ability to make more bees. But instead of allowing our colonies to multiply many beekeepers spend hundreds of dollars to buy bees to replace the 1/3 of our colonies which we KNOW from statistics are going to die every year.
Posted in Evergreen, Honey Bee How to, Learn about Bee Keeping, Seasonal, Short Course | 9 Comments

A few pointers for new beekeepers

If you see nectar being stored in brood comb during spring or summer you need to stop feeding or you will cause the hive to swarm. If it is natural nectar you need to take immediate action to prevent swarming.

Beekeeping isn’t rocket science, but an awful lot of beekeepers lose all or most of their bees every year.  You could read volumes about how to be a beekeeper, but if you commit to follow just a few suggestions you will increase your chances of success a great deal:

  • Do your weekly inspections – never let more than 2 weeks pass without one – make sure they stay queenright!  If this is the only thing you do it will increase your chances tremendously.
  • Keep them fed - but don’t overfeed and make them swarm.
  • Get at least one nucleus hive and split your hives  when they have at least 2 boxes full of bees and drawn comb.   I reccomend that you put robber screens on your nucs – or all hives for that matter if you have several hives of different sizes.
  • Treat them for mites (I reccomend Apiguard organic treatment for this one) sometime between July 15 – August 15.  Finishing treatments by August 15.
  • In mid-late September begin fast feeding heavy syrup until your hives have plenty of it stored for winter.
  • Treat again any time in December using a treatment which is appropriate for the temps at that time – MAQS, Apivar, Oxalic acid.
  • Don’t let them starve over winter – Properly applied Mt Camp sugar as insurance almost guarantees that your bees won’t starve to death during winter.

Do these things and you probably won’t be buying more bees next spring.  For more details check out the  Beekeeping Calendar. and the Beekeeping Schedule by Blooms.

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