Title Photo: Himalayan Balsam
I’m afraid August was not a good month for many of our colonies as the expected warm dry weather did not materialise and by the end of the month the nights are drawing in and night time temperatures starting to plummet.
This means less time for foraging and very few plants around and in flower for the bees to supplement their winter stores, be that pollen or nectar.
This is when we have to be more careful about the care of our colonies or the winter losses are going to be horrendous. Ensure you have a laying Queen in each colony by a very quick examination, this to ensure wasps and robber bees do not gain entry, look for brood and grubs. If none are found, consider uniting with a colony with a viable Queen.
They have become, as expected, a major problem and closing down “the front door” of each hive will give the guard bees less to defend, is a good start.
Then ensure the rest of the hive has no “ back door entrances” with badly fitting roofs or supers that have warped over time.
We have all lost weak hives or drone layers to wasps this season, so anything we can do to prevent predation by wasps in the next couple of months will ensure strong colonies head into the winter.
We have all been emptying our home made Wasp traps, in my case into the ‘compost bin’, and re baiting them just to try and keep the numbers of worker wasps nosing around my hives down to a minimum.
My home made floors with side ‘cone entrances’ have once again worked well.
By the end of the month the drones left in the colonies will have been ejected as they are no longer needed for the well being and survival of the hive throughout the winter, when extra non productive males are unnecessary.
If you start to find any drones in your hives by next month, a deeper examination may be needed to see if you have a viable Queen who can lay throughout the winter.
Well I know it is August but late swarms as you can see from the below picture late casts are still about.
They will not survive, they have no time to collect winter stores, build a colony and defend themselves from the marauding wasps.
In this case they were United with a weak colony.
By the end of the month supers of honey will have been removed and stored away with a Queen excluder top and bottom to keep out wasps, mice and robber bees.
This leaves colonies often with floor, Broodchamber, Queen excluder and then an eke ready for feeding syrup or fondant.
But make sure that roof is wasp and bee tight or you will feed the entire neighbourhood.
Heft the back of the hive to check on their weight. It will be a long winter with no food coming in and we have a responsibility to ensure they have food for the winter if we take all their honey.
But be aware in the spring to get ahead of the game before those early nectar flows or as you can see below you will have a muddle to sort through.
There is a lot of Beekeeping Media about this at present as nests have been found along the South Coast and lessons from the continent and the Channel Islandsclearly indicate that we will all be managing this invasive foreign pest in future seasons.
Please get your monitor stations out and keep a look out in your wasp traps so we can record their spread and hopefully destroy nests as they are on the south coast.
The Association meeting at LUDDINGTON on Friday 8th September will give the latest update, we will be having some Asian Hornet Traps which you can win in our raffle for those attending and lots of free advice.
Next Month : Do you need to treat for Varroa if Queens have stopped laying or not? What’s your mite drop like?
Have you fed enough for the colony to survive the following six months?