The apiary year in July is the time when the bees are at their busiest getting nectar and pollen in and making honey. We have several tasks to do:
Add more supers
Honey needs to be stored and for this the bees need more supers. However it is not just a case of putting a couple of new supers on the hive and then thinking the job is done.
The general advice is to put a new super on when the super they are currently filling is a half to two thirds capped. By leaving it till the previous super is almost complete means that we do not end up with the situation where we have two incomplete supers of honey.
The next question is whether we put the new super above the previous super or below it. In most cases when you ask ten beekeepers a question you get eleven answers. If you ask the same beekeepers whether to put the new super above or below the previous super you will only get one of two answers – probably.
This is also the month to do a Varroa count. There are beekeepers who believe this is not necessary and will assume that the bees will look after themselves. This may be true for a season or two but as the Varroa count in the colony builds so the honey production goes down and eventually the colony will be overwhelmed with problems.
Unite weak colonies
July is also the month to consider uniting weak colonies. One strong colony can store more honey than two weak colonies and thus have a much better chance of coming through the winter. (Gosh it is just July and I am talking of winter!)
Prepare to remove old brood frames
The queen will be less productive as the month progresses and this is also a time to consider how you are going to deal with old brood frames. If you find that there are old tired frames in the centre of the brood chamber with little or no brood then you could move these to the outer edges of the brood chamber. The bees will use them for stores and next spring when they have emptied the frames of stores you will be able to replace them with new frames and discard or clean the old frames.
All in all it is quite a busy month in the apiary and though it is not a month when we expect to see any sign of swarming it is not impossible so when doing your hive inspections be aware that it may be July on your calendar but do the bees know that?