July Beekeeping Tips
1. For the vast majority of Texas the flow is completely finished by early July. If you plan to harvest, your honey should be harvested quickly to ensure the bees do not consume too much of their stores. See our "June Beekeeping Tips" blog post regarding honey harvest.
2. Your bees are entering one of the most critical periods in the entire year. Varroa mite populations typically peak in July, making treatment critical once honey is removed. Use a treatment that is able to withstand high temperatures, like Apivar. Any thymol based treatment does not do well in high temperatures. Oxalic Acid is only effective during a broodless period. Apistan and Checkmite are no longer viable due to mite resistance. Hopguard can be somewhat effective, but make sure to test for mites after the treatment, as it can be ineffective in some conditions. Apivar is currently the most effective and reliable treatment in high temperatures.
3. It's important immediately after harvesting honey to feed your bees. In July there are virtually no major nectar producing flowers blooming. Yet, your hive is still rearing brood and still requires large amounts of food to maintain their strength. Thus, we encourage all beekeepers begin feeding and don’t stop until each hive has a 30lb surplus of syrup stored in the second box on your hive. This will guarantee your hive has the resources they need to live and thrive. Even a few weeks without enough food, or with excessively high mite levels can drastically damage your hive.
4. Heat is much harder on bees than cold and Texas heat poses some unique challenges for hives. In addition to treating for mites and feeding immediately, be sure to provide a water source for you hive and slightly cracking the lid to give additional ventilation. Adding an empty box above your current boxes can provide some dead air space, and a buffer from the hot lid. Make sure your hive has at least a total of 2 boxes rather than just 1 deep box.
5. One of the most important things to keep in mind as a beekeeper, is the fact that winter preparation begins as soon as you harvest honey. Many beekeepers begin winter preparation when the first major cold front hits in October or November, however, that is far too late for winter preparation. Most “winter” losses are actually a result of improper care during the summer months. Hives may appear alive and well over the summer, but are actually starving and infested with mites, who transfer viruses to the bees. You may not notice a dramatic decline until fall or winter, when those issues reach a critical point. But, the invisible damage was done over the summer.
6. If you want to grow your hive count in the following year, you can place supers of foundation direction on top of your brood nest, and feed the hive heavily over the summer. The bees will draw out the comb, which can give you your comb for the next year, eliminating the need to draw out foundation on a honey flow. The constant food and the chance to work is great for the bees over the summer months as well.