I hope by the time that you read this there will be beautiful bee weather abounding! Today I had a customer that picked up nucs by driving through snow in the Blue Mountains.
It is important to remember that if your bees are not overcrowded, have a productive queen, and have plenty of food, they are amazing at surviving anything that Mother Nature throws their way.
Summer Hive Inspections:
Have your equipment easily available by bringing what you will need to the bee yard. You can use an empty nuc box or a tool box or a wagon . . . just be sure to be prepared with hive tools, a smoker, smoker fuel, frames of foundation, your protective garments, a Varroa mite sampling kit, etc., so that you do not have to go back for your supplies.
Do not over inspect your hives . . . check between the boxes for queen cells to see if the hive is swarmy, check for eggs in the hive and be aware of the brood pattern of the queen and how many stores are available for the hive. When you find a hive that is in need of care, watch for supersedure cells, no eggs, or a spotty brood pattern, because they will tell you that the queen needs to be replaced. Emergency cells tell you that she has already failed and is no longer present in the hive. If you have a queen available or a nuc on hand, you can easily remedy the problem.
It is always wise to rotate your comb out of the hive by pulling old comb and adding a frame or two of foundation . . . depending on the honey flow and the size of the hive.
Building a Nuc:
If you have a hive that is large enough to split, or is showing signs of swarming, you can start a nuc with a traditional honey bee queen, or you can either place queen cells from a swarmy hive or young eggs from a robust hive into a nuc box, add several shakes of bees, a frame with pollen on it and one with honey, and finally two frames with young eggs and larvae for a queenless nuc—or add two frames of capped brood and a queen for a traditional nuc. The secret is to have plenty of bees in the nuc because before the nuc begins to grow, it will decline somewhat.
Our Never-Ending Pest, Varroa Mites:
Finally, last but not least . . . In the scheme of beekeeping . . . Varroa mites are the #1 enemy. Yes, there is queen failure and starvation, but most of the damage to overwintering hives is from Varroa. We think of August as the time to be getting ready for winter bees, so make sure that your Varroa levels are low throughout the summer by doing sugar shakes or alcohol washes. Know your levels of infestation and treat accordingly. By mid August you need to be thinking about fall treatment . . . pollen supplements are excellent for helping to raise FAT BEES, begin to help the hive achieve winter weight and treat with a registered product to treat your hive for Varroa.