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June in the Bee-yards

June in my Bee-yards near Richmond, Virginia takes on a new dimension from the first few months of the year. To begin with, the workload reduces a lot. I am no longer trying to do a full inspection of every hive. In truth, some of the full inspections (top to bottom, pulling every frame) wane in early May. But, by early June, I am simply taking a super or two off to have a look at the super they are working on, in case they need another honey super. I rarely pop more then 3 frames from the super to get a good feel for where they are before I put it back. The only exceptions are the hives that need a bit of extra care (such as splits done in May.) I make sure to have a look at the brood nest (a few frames at least) once a month from now on.

The other change primarily takes place in my Home Yard. Most (if not all) Hive Starts in the yard should be out of here (and onto outyards) by the end of the month. As mentioned last year, I found it to be extremely difficult to start late season Nuc’s (or Nuc’s for overwintering) when I had a few full hives in the same yard (it became a robbing bonanza.) So, any increase for the year needs to be ‘out da door’ by the end of this month. I seriously doubt that will happen, but that’s the goal. I have 3 more hives leaving this Friday (that will put my outyards at 7 and my hive count at 23!), but there are 11 more starts still in the yard. At least 4 are on the verge of having ‘beekeeper regicide’ performed on them (which might convert them to the Overwintering Program) I think it is reasonable to expect me to go into the Winter with 30 hives and 3 or 4 Nucs for overwintering this year, but who knows what will happen.

I also ramp up my syrup feed (if I still have increase hives that have not drawn out the bottom deep and top medium) to a straight 1:1 mix. I have no idea why this is the case, but my bees draw wax fine in my backyard on 2 parts water to 1 part sugar until around the June time-frame, when they simply stop taking it (on average.) But, if I ramp up the mix to 1:1, they go back to drawing wax and sucking down the syrup. In truth, I should look into upping the mixture in May, because they take the stuff at a pace that is very much higher then the pace they were taking the 2:1 mix when I start it. Next year, I might start the new mix in mid-May.

In closing, the weather continues to be pretty good for the bees (nectar still coming in at a good rate!), although it is extremely hot for the beekeeper. I look forward to my first round of extracting in a week or two and will report back the successes (and, more likely, failures) then.

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