As always, All beekeeping is local. Here’s my offering for the beekeeping calendar for the South Carolina Midlands for the month of July:
Plan on checks twice this month but do not work unless necessary to prevent triggering robbing.
Remove any Varroa treatment products scheduled for removal if used. If not treated for Varroa in June then assess Varroa levels and treat this month as needed. Time to keep a close eye on Varroa levels before they become too high for treatment to be effective.
Dearth in earnest this month. Even if you left the bees plenty of honey consider feeding a minimum amount of syrup to provide hydration. Syrup is quick and ready for the bees to utilize as needed helping them keep the brood fed, cool the hive, and keeping the hive at 50% – 60% humidity.
Begin pest control measures to contain Small Hive Beetles.
July lst – July 30th
1) Remove dry supers for storage if left on hives or returned to hives for cleanup. Supers should be stacked tightly with paradichlorobenzene crystals on a paper plate or piece of newspaper between each 5 supers. (Remember fumes from the moth crystals move down as they evaporate.) DO NOT USE COMMERCIAL MOTH BALLS! They are a different formula and not approved for use on beekeeping equipment!
2) Treat for Varroa mites if needed. Write down dates if using strips that will need removing later.
3) Inspect colonies for queen status and order queens for August replacement, if necessary. August is usually the last month local Midlands queens are available. If needed you should make contact with your local queen supplier now to ensure receiving queens.
4) Assessing bee population, remove any supers not needed and store.
5) Consider feeding with plan to “keep alive” until August then start stimulation. With full on dearth now present, all feeding should be done cautiously to prevent robbing. Internal feeders preferred. Boardman feeders discouraged. Open feeding should be done at a distance from your hives. Feed additives with essential oils are discouraged for two reasons: a) they don’t need encouragement to feed as they are already hungry b) syrup laced with the scent of oils will mark their hives as targets for other hungry colonies.
6) Monitor entrances and use entrance reducers to discourage robbing. Remove multiple entrances if used. Keep balance of internal hive space and bee population such that entrances have guard bees.
7) Strong hives handle wax moths, beetles, and robbing pressure better. Keep hives strong by equalizing space with population.
8) Consider combining hives that are failing, are losing population too fast, have poor queens, or are otherwise looking poor. Combine with strong hive, swarm, or late flow split that is progressing nicely. Do not combine two weak colonies.
9) Keep water sources for bees filled. This month you will start to see them gathering water in earnest.
10) Still time to consider moving to late summer bloom like cotton, sourwood, or soybeans.
11) Begin measures to control Small Hive Beetles as they will begin ramping up their populations now.
12) Start preparing your State Fair entries – wax and honey.
13) Attend monthly association meeting.
14) Volunteer at association event or festival.