I suppose this should be something that is traditionally done around the near year, but everything seems to be running late. Poor weather and lack of time with my wife staring her new real estate office, my day job, and other things that came up during the spring and summer that kept me from accomplishing what I had intended to do with the bees last year. However, this year, since I’ve been forced to significantly reduce my commercial queen rearing, I should have time to complete my goals in regards to my bees.
I’ve mentioned a few goals already, but though I should write them down more formally:
- Build back to 100-120 hives. – The winter (and summer/fall preceeding it) was hard on most of Ohio. Losses here were significant and it will take some work to get back to the number we had. On the plus side, we can see now which queens were really superior.
- Requeen most of my hives. Most hives will be requeend with the next generation of queens. I’ve always found it hard to get rid of old queens, but for a successfull program I need to make room for truely superior queens.
- Have 50% (or more) of my hives headed by II queens. This goal is two fold. First simply to take the best stock available and build a good base of pure stock to evaluate for next years queens. And 2nd, to simply practice and perfect my instrumental insemination skills.
- Stock improvement. – We can’t maintain a stagnant gene pool. Bees thrive on diversity. To that end I need to evaluate and bring in new stock and this year I’ll hopefully be adding stock from both Sue Cobey’s program and Joe Latshaw.
- Harvest in early August. – Havesting earlier will give more time for inpections, treatments (if necessary) and fall requeening of any hive that is no up to par. Plus harvesting earlier may while the flow isn’t completely dried up may help avoid the severe robbing of the honey house I experience last year.
- Try overwintering Nucs/10 frame hives. – Another beekeeper locally had good success overwintering single deeps above full sized colonies separated by a double screen board. I’d like to give it a try and possibly use it to make up losses in the spring or for expanding next year.
- Inspect hives earlier in August and address mites and other issues earlier. It may make little difference if we have a good fall. But if the fall is cut short like last year, inspecting, requeening and treating earlier will give them the time they need to build up with young healthy bees before the weather forces them to shut down.
- Feed pollen patties in the fall. It may be questionable, but shouldn’t hurt. In many years it probably wouldn’t make a difference, but with last fall it may have made a huge difference in overwintering success. In any case I have the patties ready in the freezer so it won’t take much extra effort.