Spring; What to do for your hives in August
August is the time we are starting to inspect the hives after the winter, on warm still days when the bees are flying freely. At this inspection, we are checking for the supply of stores for the bees in the hive, their health, if the queen is there and the size of the colony.
This is the time of the year when the queen starts getting into egg-laying in earnest again. That means the hive needs nectar and pollen to feed the brood. The foraging opportunities can be poor in September with many early season blossoms not producing nectar. For this reason, we need to watch our hives to ensure they have enough food. At Bush Haven Farm, we make sure our bees are left with plenty of pollen and honey at the end of Autumn to last them through the winter and cool early Spring.
With brood comes the varroa mite, so this is the time of the year we monitor the varroa levels in the hive. We do this by putting 1/3 cup of live bees into a jar with some icing sugar and after they are covered in it we shake the jar through some mesh. The icing sugar and the varroa mites fall out and the now white bees go back to the hive to get cleaned up by the others.
The varroa mite sucks the fat body out which is like the liver of a bee, thereby weakening it. Once the numbers of the mite increase, it ends up killing the colony. In a hive with lots of varroa, some of the bees get Deformed Wing Virus so that they can never fly. This is why we need to monitor and treat our hives for varroa so that our bees can stay healthy. The treatments have to be removed before the bees make and store surplus honey that we will take from the hive in summer.
It is also coming up to the main Swarming season so we are making sure that each colony has plenty of room to grow in an effort to prevent half of them from leaving to set up home somewhere else.