As always, All beekeeping is local. Here’s my offering for the beekeeping calendar for the South Carolina Midlands for the month of August: Plan on checks twice this month but do not work unless necessary to prevent triggering robbing.
Monitor and control pests – Varroa, Small Hive Beetles, Yellow Jackets, Tracheal Mites.
It is now critical that the beekeeper assess Varroa levels and treat this month as needed. (If you have not treated yet you, most likely, will need to treat.) Varroa mites are now out-breeding your bees. Fewer drone cells means they will start entering more worker cells. It is equally as critical that you determine the effectiveness of your treatments by measuring Varroa levels post treatment. Do not assume that a treatment was effective. Establishing a healthy population of bees now will be reflected in your fall bees and ultimately in your winter bees. Allowing your bees to maintain a high mite load now will result in poor preparation of fall bees and sickly winter bees later. Of course, depending on your current mite level your bees may not get to winter if this is left unaddressed. If you are seeing deformed wing virus you most likely have a serious case of mites and a high virus load and need to take action now.
Dearth continues in earnest this month. Even if you left the bees plenty of honey consider feeding a thin 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. Monitor stores, remembering they are not bringing much in and will consume what is currently stored as we continue through dearth.
August will be your last opportunity to obtain local Midlands queens. Early contact with your local supplier is suggested.
August 1st – August 31
1) Treatment options for Varroa control are now limited due to the extreme Midlands heat in August. Options include oxalic acid vaporization, Hopsguard II, or hard chemicals. If using oxalic acid, a series of three treatments spaced one week apart is suggested.
2) Implement pest control measures to contain Small Hive Beetles and Yellow Jackets.
3) Assess for signs of tracheal mites and treat if symptomatic. Managing grease patties in the heat can be a mess and is easier when the weather cools. Commercial products are also available for use when the weather cools.
4) Re-queen as necessary.
5) Unite weak colonies.
6) Remove colonies from mountains and extract Sourwood honey.
7) Cotton bloom has already started but you still have time to place colonies on upcoming soybeans.
8) If you have not been feeding, harvest summer honey on any remaining colonies. As it is getting late in the season, leave at least one super of honey for bees.
9) Monitor pollen supply coming in to hive. We occasionally see a late summer pollen dearth that lasts a couple weeks depending on weather. The bees can survive this drop in pollen availability but ideally, you may want to supplement (see below).
10) Starting the last week of August begin to increase your syrup feeding using a 1:1 mix and provide enough to stimulate brood production. Monitor stores as well. The goal is to start raising the nurses that will raise the nurses that will ultimately raise your winter bees. It is important that you begin to raise well fed and healthy bees free of mite loads, and viri now. Do not let sick or compromised bees do the job of raising your winter bees.
11) It’s also time to start monitoring stores to ensure you will reach the goal of one full super for winter.
12) Register your entries at the South Carolina State Fair (free until September 1st).
13) Start preparing your State Fair entries – wax and honey.
14) Attend your local monthly meeting. Volunteer to educate the public on the importance of honey bees by signing up to work a shift at the upcoming SC State Fair booth.