Beekeeper’s Calendar – August

Monthly Beekeeping Guide

August & the bees:

Since the nectar flow will usually end early this month (dearth period), the bees will become much more nervous, flighty, and “cranky,” as they are searching for nectar that is now not as plentiful to find. The bees are seeking to make a final effort to store up honey for winter, searching for late summer and early autumn nectar sources. Goldenrod and Wild Aster plants can provide an average nectar flow in the fall (though it makes less desirable honey for the consumer).

August & the beekeeper:

Be careful not to let a strong hive rob a weak hive, or do anything that might permit robbing to be initiated by neighboring colonies (especially if you have multiple colonies yourself). However, if nectar is still coming in, continue to place honey supers on the hive. Be careful to not open up the hive for extended periods (honey bees can smell honey from a long distances), as other hives may try to rob the hive while it is opened.
Beekeepers may choose to place a 5-gallon bucket in their bee yards and fill it with 2:1 THICK sugar-syrup, or 2 parts sugar to 1 part water (2 lbs cane sugar dissolved in 1 pint, or 1 lb, of boiling water). Then, place several clean sticks in it so the bees will not drown. After a few hours, the bucket will be covered with thousands of bees. Alternately, a wooden “yard feeder” can be constructed to accomplish the same thing. Do not put this close to your house. This is a great way to feed your bees and to prevent them from robbing other weaker colonies. If you have just one or two colonies, this should not be necessary.
The middle of the month is the proper time to start preparing your honey bees for winter, and for the following spring. Varroa mite counts and treatments may be considered by mid-August (as long as honey supers are not on the hives), using non-synthetic treatments to reduce mite levels for wintertime, and which are now beginning to increase significantly in their numbers. Thymol (Apiguard), formic acid (Mite-Away Quick Strip or MAQS), and hops extract (Hop Guard II) treatments perform reasonably well at this time of year. Oxalic acid (either drip application or via sublimation) is effective against varroa, but it does not penetrate capped cells to kill mites, and must be used whent brood are not being reared (treat either in early March or the first week of December). Varroa destructor is responsible for large amounts of colony deaths due to mite overload or mite-related disease, such as Deformed Wing Virus (DWV), Israel Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV), etc.

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