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Summer Hive Management for Panhandle Beekeepers

Hive maintenance must be top priority for beekeepers during the summer months.

Hive maintenance is a high priority for beekeepers during the summer months.

It’s harvest time for many choice honey crops. That means it’s also time to plan for hive maintenance concerning next year’s harvest.

Summer is great time for hive maintenance, as there are limited active pollen producing plants. So, honey production will be at a minimum. Therefore, integrated pest management is a top priority. Beware, Varroa mites and small hive beetles are very active during summer months.

In June and July, the pesky Varroa mite populations begin to grow, so this is a good time to monitor colonies closely and treat if necessary. There are a number of treatment options such as Apiguard or MiteAway II.

August is a tricky time of year for beekeepers. The threat of Varroa mites should still be monitored, as well as small hive beetles. There are two viable chemical controls for small hive beetles. Gard Star, a soil drench pesticide for the perimeter, and Check Mite +, a strip of material dosed with pesticide placed around the hive, are both effective. As for all pesticide usage, it is important to follow the product direction label.

American or European foulbrood caused by a spore forming bacteria, is by far the most damaging disease that can occur to a hive. However, if found early, the hive can be treated with Terramycin dust. Colonies will likely need to be feed during this time as well, especially if the size of the colony has decreased. Also, it’s quite hot in the Panhandle at this time. Be sure that the hive is well ventilated.

Remember, Florida black bears are active this time of year. Although they pose a minor threat to bee colonies, it’s always wise to have preventative measures in place. Investing in an electric fence is probably the best deterrent. However, for nuisance bear issues please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-404-3922.

Other than integrated pest management strategies, some beekeepers also replace their queen in late summer or early fall on an annual basis. New queens lay at a higher rate than older ones. The result is a larger population of worker bees, which increases honey production.

The Florida Beekeeper Management Calendar is a handy guide that every beekeeper should possess. The calendar includes recommendations for major management considerations like when to treat for parasites or pathogens, and the local flora in bloom at that time. This management calendar is NOT exhaustive. It is meant merely as a reference or starting point for honey bee colony management in Florida.

Following these hive management measures will help ensure your honey production will yield great results year after year.

Supporting information for this article can be found in the UF/IFAS EDIS publication:

Florida Beekeeper Management Calendar
by Dr. James D. Ellis and C.M. Zettel Nalen

 

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