In general, what’s going on during the month of September?
Bees are rearing less brood and drone brood has disappeared. Depending on the local weather conditions there may be a honey flow this time of year with Aster and Goldenrod in bloom. This flow may enable the bees to store enough honey for winter on their own so that beekeepers will not have to feed them or feed them less to get their hives up to weight before winter.
Varroa mites are a serious threat this month. If you treated your hives in August, then perform varroa mite counts on your hives at the end of the treatment period. If you haven't already treated your hives, then you should seriously consider treating them this month. The bees born from now on are the bees that will take you through winter. Treat your hives for Varroa mites if the mite count exceeds 3 mites per 100 bees.
During the last few weeks of warm weather judge each hives readiness for winter. Now is the time to feed syrup to your hives that are under weight. Lift your hives from the rear to gauge their weight. Your hives need to weigh 50 to 55 pounds. Don’t just check them once. Check them several times since their weight can fluctuate wildly if you are in a dearth.
The time is now for weak hives to be united with stronger ones.
Local conditions in Louisa County area and recommendations
Extended periods of overcast skies and near daily rain showers has continued from July into early August. There has been some nectar flow which the bees have been working and they have been bringing in some pollen; however, a number of beekeepers have started feeding to supplement what is available naturally. The question for most beekeepers is how much are they going to have to feed their bees to bring their hives up to weight for winter.
1. During inspections take note if the hive is queen-right, the amount of honey stores, and the amount of pollen stores. Feed sugar syrup at 1:1 if needed. Offer pollen substitute if pollen stores are lacking.
2. Check hives for Varroa mites. Sugar roll and alcohol wash methods are recommended for the most accurate counts. Mites counted on screened bottom boards are the least accurate. Make plans to purchase and use an effective treatment.
3. Feed supplements to prevent Nosema and reduce stress. Nosema is associated with Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Feeding Fumagilin-B or Nozevit Plus several times this Fall in sugar syrup will ensure that the Winter bees (the bees that emerge this Fall and live approximately 6 months) will be more likely to survive until Spring.
Top Bar Hives:
You should have at least 12 brood combs completed. The top bars should extend the full depth of your hive to get through Winter.
The honey bands on these 12 combs should extend from the top down to two-thirds of the way from the bottom. Combs completely filled with honey cannot be inserted between brood combs the bees will cluster on. Bees must have some open brood cells in which to cluster on the combs to generate the warmth necessary to survive. Feed sugar syrup at 1:1 if the honey stores are not sufficient.
Arrange the brood combs next to one another toward the front of the hive. A comb of pollen or two should be at the entrance followed by a comb of honey. Then the 12 or so brood combs the bees will cluster on followed by more honey combs if you have them. Empty brood combs should be stored at the back of the hive or removed and stored elsewhere (a freezer is ideal). This is how the hive should be configured just before it is left alone for Winter.