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Take off the last of this year’s honey about the middle of August. You will be eager to extract as much honey as possible but, before you do, you must think about 3 things (if you don’t your bees will not live through the winter!).
The colony must have enough honey to see them through the winter (minimum 40lbs). Feeding them sugar will top up low stores but the best food for them is their own honey.
If you think the bees will have lots of honey in the brood chamber, beware! This may not be true, especially if you have a good queen laying a lot of eggs! To be safe, any brood chamber stores should be ignored when you are thinking about how much honey the bees have on board.
If you plan to take off all of the supers, or to put a clearer board under them, ask yourself if there is enough room for all the bees in the brood chamber alone? It is best to leave a super of uncapped or only partly capped honey so that there is plenty of room for all your bees!
Bees in hot weather!
Does it ever get too hot for our bees? The swift answer is, ‘yes’!
Bees don’t like very hot weather. The best inside-the-hive temperature is around 34C (94F). Temperatures over 37C (98F) will badly stress the bees.
Bees are not helpless in hot weather, they will collect water to cool the hive and fan their wings at the entrance to reduce the inside temperature. If it gets too hot within the hive, they will crowd outside the hive on the landing board, both during the day and in the evening. This is called ‘bearding.” Eventually, if the bees are unable to stay cool, they will die.
Beekeepers can help!
First, make sure the hive is not in full sun for the whole of the day in summer. Some shade, especially in the afternoons, is vital in hot weather. Sun is generally good for the bees, but too much sun on the hive can be deadly.
Second, make sure there is a good supply of water nearby. Bees need water to cool the hive, and they need it reasonably close by. Fill up water containers every day and make sure they do not dry out. It may be useful to leave a garden tap dripping into a shallow container with plenty of surfaces for bees to land without drowning. You can fill a shallow container with marbles and add water or why not copy our B Kids diarist, Sally’s idea shown in the photo below?
Photo from our B Kids 2016 diarist – Sally
Flowers for my bees?
Planning a garden? Re-planting? People often ask, ‘which flowers should I plant in my garden to provide food for the honey bees?’ A good question, now that the planting season is here! Here is a list to get you started!
The honey bee is in the middle photo. Did you know which one it was? Not everyone can tell the difference, so if you knew, then well done you!