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10 : Month by Month in your Apiary: August MONTH BY MONTH A drone being ejected from the hive H

ave a look at the graph of colony numbers for the second half of the year. The decline in numbers of both brood and adults is due to the fact that the queen has reduced her rate of lay. This is in preparation for the winter ahead, with five or six months of cold, wet weather and few flowers to provide nectar and pollen.

A smaller population can survive this period as long as there is enough food close by in the brood box to sustain it. Sometimes, if you carry out a hive inspection in August, you will fi nd it diffi cult to fi nd any eggs.

Unwanted Drones

Drones are no longer needed as it becomes less likely this month that queens will be emerging. Worker bees start to throw them out of the entrance and stop them from coming back in. Spending the nights outside in the cold usually kills them off so that

In Your Apiary: August

Margaret Cowley, MSc (Deputy Editor, Bee Craft – deputyeditor@bee–

winter clusters will have no drones at all. If a colony does not eject its drones, inspect it, as there is probably something wrong such as queenlessness or a queen which only lays drones as she is not fertilising her eggs properly.

A Busy Month

Traditionally, August is the month when beekeepers harvest the main crop, treat against varroa and start autumn feeding. It is always problematic trying to do all three activities: most traditional varroa medications cannot be used with supers of honey in place. The instructions also advise us not to treat and feed at the same time, unless it is unavoidable, as the treatment is less effective. When you fi rst start beekeeping, you won’t know if there is still likely to be a signifi cant nectar fl ow during late August and September. Nor can we predict if the weather is going to be good enough for the bees to collect signifi cant quantities of honey from late fl owers such as ivy, so it is best to plan for the worst scenario, then adapt your management if things turn out

August is a busy month with honey extraction and making sure hives are bee- and wasp- tight

differently. Flowers, climate and races of bee are signifi cantly different in different places in the UK so my guidance based on Derbyshire fl ows and weather will need to be adapted by readers based in other regions.

Let your bees tell you: one big hint they give me is when I return emptied supers and place them above the crownboard, with the feed hole open. The idea is that they will lick the supers clean and dry so that you can then place them into storage, ready for next year. BUT this will not happen if the weather is good and many fl owers are still secreting nectar. So, looking into the super after a few days, you will see the cells fi lling up again! At this point, you could place the super back under the crownboard.

The Main Crop

Before the cultivation of oilseed rape, the main honey harvest in most areas was in August and early September. Nowadays, the spring harvest in June is often larger than the so-called ‘main crop’. Nevertheless, sunshine will encourage willowherb, blackberry, red clover, Himalayan balsam,

Brood and adults in a typical colony in the second half of the year

August 2013 Vol 95 No 8

Claire Waring

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