Charlie's monthly beekeeping calendar

Your monthly guide of beekeeping tips for you and your hives

October 12, 2021

To all SBA members,

The goldenrod is nearing the end of its bloom and the bees are still bringing in the pollen to feed the brood. It has been unusually warmer this month than last year and I have been feeding my bees sugar water since mid to late September. The hives are getting full now and I am starting to take off the top hive feeders. Everyone should have been feeding their bees sugar water by now or preparing to feed them sugar bricks or cakes.

Varroa Mite Treatment

To recap my Varroa mite treatment program, I first applied Apivar strips at the end of July to all my hives for a six week treatment period. I then applied Formic Pro the first of September using two pads per hive for two weeks for my ten frame honey production hives and one pad applied to two nucs as an experiment to see if there were any negative effects to the nucs. (I found none.) For the rest of my nucs, I reapplied Apivar strips due to not having a second alternative mite treatment product to use.

Next year I plan to use Apiguard that uses Thymol as its active ingredient as an alternative mite treatment product. In November and December, I will be treating twice a month with oxalic acid vapor if the weather and temperatures are right while the hives are broodless to get the highest kill percentage rate that I can.

What are you going to do in October?
1. Start a second mite treatment program if you haven't already done so.
2. Confirm you have a laying queen (check for eggs, larvae, capped brood)
3. Take off the top hive feeders when the bees slow down or stop taking sugar water.
4. Install entrance reducers on your hives.
5. Install mouse guards on your hives later this month
6. Check that your hives will have good ventilation through the winter and into the spring.

Candy Board: your late winter bee hive insurance policy

Some beekeepers replace the inner cover with a candy board in late November or early December. This is a shim filled with a hard compacted piece of sugar mixed with vinegar and water. The late Billy Davis, EAS Master Beekeeper and friend, will show you how to make candy for a candy board at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9piSQlWhgI

Hive Ventilation and Securing Your Hive for the Winter

After you have finished feeding your hive for the winter, take off the top hive feeder and put the inner cover back on. I put two wooden blocks (5/8 X 1 1⁄4 X 2 1⁄2 inches long) at the two front corners of the inner cover to raise the telescoping cover up to let out the heat and humidity through the winter. When the weather turns cold (40 degrees or less), I close up my screen bottom boards with corrugated sign board material, and I cover up my hives with used carpet to act as a wind break. I use a ratchet strap to tie down each hive so the wind will not blow the hive over or the top cover off.

I hope this information will help you prepare your bee colonies for the coming winter.
Charlie Thomas
SBA President