Funny old year. We are into August already and yet the year does not seem to have gone anywhere. The bees do not know about Covid or any other of the problems we see. They have their own set of problems and it is our job to make their life as easy as possible. It is a pity the bees cannot do the same for us – but then perhaps they do.
August is the month when we will be extracting honey but at the same time we have to be thinking of the bees food for the winter and also Varroa treatment.
When removing frames you need to be checking that at least 75% of the stored honey is capped. If it is not there is a risk that that the moisture content will be too high and the honey could ferment in the jar. I will be doing a page on extraction later this month. One tip I have come across is that when removing the frames from the super number them indicating their position in the super as well as the hive from which they have come. That way they can be put back into the same hive and in the right position. This minimises the risk of sharing disease and also makes reassembly easier.
Once the supers have been extracted we can consider what Varroa treatment to give. Again this is such a big issue I will be doing a separate page on that.
One of the things that I have noticed at my apiary is the enthusiasm of the wasps this year. The easiest way to deal with this is jam jars containing a bit of jam and about half full of water. Either cut a hole in the centre of the lid so that the wasps cannot climb out. I often remove the original lid and replace it with a plastic cap in which I have cut a hole. The plastic is held in place with an elastic band. Bit more fiddly but saves cutting a hole in a metal lid.
The other task which we can usefully do at this time of year is to check for Nosema. This is especially important if a colony has not grown as you would have expected over the year. There is an excellent description of how to identify Nosema in the current BBKA News. In addition there is a good description on Beebase.
Hopefully that has given you some ideas of what needs to be done this month. Bear in mind that the bees do not have a calendar and a change in the weather could speed up or delay their preparations for winter. The one thing we can all rely on is that the nights are beginning to draw in!