Beekeeper’s Calendar: July

With July’s arrival, I’m hoping for sunny skies after a cold and damp spring here in the Northeast.

Swarm worries are less prominent this month, though you’ll need to be on the lookout for robbing as the summer dearth approaches. Your main focus in July will be honey harvesting, though.

As the nectar flow continues, add, remove and extract honey supers as needed. If you’ve got extra supers on hand, swap on a fresh box as soon as your remove a full one. Otherwise, extract quickly and get an empty super back on the hive.

Continue to monitor your varroa levels, though don’t use chemical treatments on the hive as long as honey supers are on. The entrance reducer can also come out as long as there’s a good nectar flow, which should extend through part of this month.

Lots of bees, and perhaps some ‘bearding’

Bees Bearding

Bees bearding – Creative Commons photo by Phil Windley

The queen’s laying will start to decline slightly from the booming levels of spring, but you should still see ample brood and eggs in your brood nest during inspections. The hive will be bustling, but try to spot the queen if you can.

On hot, humid evenings, you might see large clusters of bees on the outside the hive (as pictured above). This so-called ‘bearding‘ isn’t necessarily cause for alarm – think of it as the bee-equivalent of what we Brooklynites call ‘stoop sitting’ on a hot summer night. It’s a clue you may need to provide better ventilation for your hive, though. Make sure you’re getting good airflow through the screened bottom board, add another super to relieve congestion or prop open your outer cover with a couple of pennies or a small piece of wood to provide additional ventilation.

Treat yourself

Once you’ve harvested some honey, here’s one final task for July: Mix 1/3 cup of honey and freshly-grated ginger into a pitcher of your favorite ice tea. Set out a lawn chair near your hive, pour a tall glass and enjoy watching your bees at work.

In bloom this month:

Russian sage, anise hyssop, buckwheat, sunflower, alfalfa, buttonbush, devil’s walkingstick