The fun is (mostly) over and the Hard work begins – Summer separates the beekeepers from the wannabeekeepers, It’s hot, and many recreational options are much more appealing than putting on a bee suit, but what you do (or don’t do) over the next 3 months will mostly determine if you are still a beekeeper next spring.
If your hives have honey that you plan to harvest then you need to do so ASAP so that you can proceed with other summertime beekeeping tasks – especially mite treatments.
Your bees almost certainly have some mites, but if you have brood that looks like this:
Then you almost certainly have a high mite load which requires immediate action if you want to save your hives.
If your proactive plan to manage varroa mites includes mite treatments – which I reccomend – then you need to plan now to complete those treatments no later than August 15 so that you can have relatively healthy bees to execute the fall build up which starts around the first of September.
There are several Varroa Mite Management Options which you should read about at that link, but if you want to skip all that I reccomend Apiguard for summer treatments. Apiguard requires multiple treatments which span 4-6 weeks – which is why you need to act soon. You will need to use a spacer to make room for apiguard treatments between the boxes as per the instructions – the spacer could be just 4 strips of thin wood or plywood laid around the perimeter between the boxes or it could be one of these shims from Mann lake. Or if you have woodworking tools you can make a shim – I use 1 1/2″ shims that I also use as feeder shims for winter feeding of sugar and pollen sub candy. Just so you know – Your bees will probably build some burr comb in the space created by the shim – which you will have to scrape off when the treatments are over.
Whenever beekeepers says “honey supers” what they are usually talking about are supers from which you plan to harvest honey during the current season. If you don’t plan to harvest honey this year then you don’t have to worry about it with apiguard, if you were planning to harvest honey this year you should do so before applying your mite treatments. If you ever do need to remove supers which contain stores for any period longer than overnight the only way to store them safely is in a freezer – otherwise they are almost certain to become infested with hive beetle larva.
If your hives are not well established yet you may need to continue feeding through summer and fall – you can only tell for sure by doing your inspections. If you have more than one hive in the same area you will probably need to take action to prevent robbing – robber screens work better than anything else which I have tried.
Do your inspections – keep them queenright, and feed any hives that do not contain at least 15 pounds of stores consisting of significant amounts of BOTH open nectar and capped honey, plan NOW to treat for mites – If you only do those things your bees a much more likely to survive and thrive.
Remember that there will not be a regular Meeting in July, but don’t slack off on your beekeeping. Summer beekeeping may not be all that fun, but it will make a huge difference in the long run.