Beekeeping Blog

Crunch Time in Honey Land 2019

It’s great to see the honey barrels counting up as harvest continues. Now is also the time to pick up the pace or suffer the consequences.

Most of the months April-November feature some type of urgency to keep on top of the bees, but the beginning of September has always felt like the time when our fortune is largely determined…. at least in terms of overwintering prospects that shape the next spring. When September arrives, we hope that there aren’t many bees left with honey on them, because that means we have not treated them for mites. Our production hives are not treated during the summer months, so the end of summer means a rapid buildup toward catastrophic levels. It only takes 3-6 weeks to go from rather low mite counts to disastrous concentrations at summer’s end. As drone rearing declines in late summer and early fall, the mites are forced to concentrate on worker larvae instead of the drones they prefer, which rapidly undermines the viability of the colony as more of the working force is parasitized and infected with several viruses. The size of the worker population contracts as well, which puts even more pressure on the remaining hosts in the hive. It’s not a pretty scenario.

The Lynnville end is pretty much done extracting since we made some summer splits on that end of the operation, but the Mount Vernon side has a good way to go before the honey harvest is over. The weather looks favorable for steady pulling and administration of treatments during the upcoming week, so I have good hope that we will be on top of situation if everyone (on the people side of the equation) stays healthy.

The bees usually look great right after harvest, though that can change quickly after one month if the mites were not handled properly. The bees appear to have an extra penchant for propolis production. There are always a few that go nuts with propolising around Apiguard cards, but quite a few made the gooey stuff to excess this month. It made me wish I was actively collecting and marketing propolis products! That is one market I have not even explored, despite its premium value.

Piles of greenish-brown propolis surrounding the Apiguard card as treatment #2 is applied.
Stretchy propolis as the hive lid is lifted. It’s all gooey on warm days!

Andrew is doing his best to keep us motivated on the extracting front 🙂 He often volunteers for duty before or after school!

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