Beekeeping Tips for June
by Todd Balsiger
- Blackberries are in full bloom this month; nectar flow will be at its zenith.
- Super ahead of the need for space -- it increases honey production and reduces swarming. You may want to walk through your apiary and reshuffle the supers away from hives that are lagging behind and give them to strong hives that are packing the honey in.
- If you have foundation to draw, get it on now. Summer's nectar dearth is around the corner.
- Continue to replace old, poor quality brood frames with foundation. It is recommended to replace brood frames every 5 years.
- Remove and extract supers containing well ripened honey -- the moisture content should be around 17.8% or less. Honey harvested early in the season (June) has more moisture than late season honey (late July/August). Avoid harvesting frames of uncapped honey early in the season or risk having too much moisture. You can check the ripeness of uncapped honey in a given frame by giving it a hard downward shake. If there is a shower of nectar then clearly it is too wet to extract.
- If you have hives around agriculture crops (e.g., vetch, red clover, Christmas trees, etc.) be cognizant of the dangers from pesticides. Make inquiries -- find out what's going to be sprayed, when, and its dangers to your bees. It may be prudent to move your bees out. See OSU Extension Publication 591 for more information on how to reduce bee poisoning.
- If you find hives with the beginnings of swarm tendency, remove the forming queen cells and rotate the brood boxes. Pull a couple of frames of sealed brood and fortify weaker hives. Place foundation in their place. It should be noted that swarm cups are a natural condition in the hive; their presence does not necessarily mean the hive will swarm.
- Swarms issue one or two days after the first queen cells are capped! If you find capped queen cells, then there is a good chance the hive has already swarmed. If you think the hive has not swarmed, then one way to try to prevent it from swarming is to split it hard and make divisions from it. It should be noted that if you plan to make nucs from the swarm cells and allow the bees to raise their own that in some peoples' opinion this is bad practice because you are selecting for swarminess. With the introduction of the varroa mite and the benefit of breaking the brood cycle in reducing varroa numbers, swarming may not be as bad today as in the past.
- Provide a steady supply of water.
- Continue to be on the lookout for AFB.