Postponed!!!

Our meeting for June is unfortunately postponed due to precautions for the Covid 19. 

We apologize at this time for any inconvenience this may cause. 

 

Please check back often for further club updates. 

 

The program will be on cut comb production and all things to get you equipment and apiary ready for the coming year.

Beekeeping Tips

We will be posting some monthly Beekeeping Tips to make sure everyone is doing the right things  at the right times for your honeybees.

This month's tips are provided by Frank Licata. 

June Beekeeping Tips

June is Overwintering Nuc Month !!!

So.. here we are, coming into the month of June. Part of my sustainable beekeeping program includes making nucs to over winter. The month to do that is June. Below I will explain the reasons it makes sense to make them now (and not later) and give an explanation of how to accomplish this.

As beekeepers, when the colonies at their strongest ?  Early to Mid-July, just after the nectar flow has ended. That’s because our bees build up the fastest when they have copious amounts of nectar and pollen! That occurs in June.

A bit of biology here – How long does it take to go from egg to emerging bee? - 21 Days…. How long before that newly emerged bee becomes a forager? – 21 days approximately.

So, the question is… How much honey has that egg laid the first week of June going to make once it emerges and becomes a forager?  NONE! (or very little). The flow is over by mid-July.

The situation we find ourselves in come July is hives that are bubbling over with bees and brood, and no nectar flow. At that point, they are a drain on the hive resources. Why not take that resource and use it to expand your beekeeping hobby?

My process for making overwintered nucs:

Usually around the 2nd or 3rd week of June, I start to make nucs to overwinter. I start by setting up a lot of nuc boxes with a bottom board, a single box, and a cover.

When I am ready to make nucs from a particular apiary, I start opening hives, pulling frames, and looking for frames with a lot of capped brood, older larva, and lots of nurse bees. When I find a frame like that, I put it in one of my nuc boxes. Depending on the strength and amount of brood in a colony, I may take up 3 frames of brood from it. I then fill the other 2 slots with frames that have honey and pollen on them. Then I pull a few frames full of nurse bees (bees on brood) from the mother colony and shake the bees into the nuc and put the frame back in the mother colony. Note: you should attempt to find your queen so not to shake her into the nuc. There are some very easy ways to do that, but I won’t include in this article.  One thing you want to do is shake LOTS of bees into that nuc.. When you think you have shaken enough bees into the nuc, shake another frame or two for good measure.

Now we have an ALMOST complete nuc… except for a queen. You have several options here, and your choice depends on how early or late in June you are making these nucs to over winter.

Since I graft my queens this time of year, I time the making of my nucs so they fall on Day 14 of my grafting. That way, when I make the nucs up, I can put a ripe queen cell or two in each nuc, knowing that they will hatch in a day or two. When I am putting cells in, I like to make my nucs around the 10th or so of June. Why? Because I want her to emerge, go out to mate, and start laying before the spring flow is over. That means she must be laying before the end of June.

In the past, I have used mated queens that I purchased. When I am using purchased queens, I am able to make the nucs up a bit later into June – the 3rd or even 4th week of June. Mated queens are a good choice for anyone who doesn’t graft or doesn’t want to let the bees make a new queen.

The last queen option is to let the bees raise a queen in the nuc. This is perfectly acceptable, and sometimes preferable as the bees always make better queens than we can. The only concern here is time. Since it takes 16 days to raise a queen, and up to another 10 after she emerges before she starts to lay, we want to give the bees plenty of time to accomplish this. When I have used this method, I always make those nucs before June 10th.

Once you have made up the nuc and have a laying queen, the hard part is over. But, you need to make sure these nucs are getting enough food – BOTH sugar water and pollen substitute as bees require both of these, which are in short supply in July, to raise brood..

I keep feeding and monitoring my nucs through the months of July and August. Occasionally I have to add a second box if they get very strong before August, otherwise add a second nuc box prior to the goldenrod flow and the bees should fill it with honey. That will be enough to get them through winter.

NOTES:

When making up the nuc(s), you can use frames from multiple hives in the nuc – the bees won’t fight.

I make my nucs in the morning, leave them queenless for the rest of the day, and add my queen cell or queen just before dark.

If you are going to let the bees make a queen, make sure at least one frame has eggs on it.

Supplemental feeding is imperative when making nucs. They only have a short time to build up for winter.

I have had almost zero success with any nucs made after the end of June.

The most common mistake people make is… not shaking enough bees into the nuc.

Make more nucs than you want/need as only 75% of the queens that hatch are successful in mating and returning to the colony.

Monitor the nucs bi-weekly. Sometimes they get so strong so fast that you need to quickly add another box. I have made nucs that built up so strong and so fast that they went into winter in 4 nuc boxes!

DON’T attempt to move a June nuc into a full colony prior to winter. They WON’T be strong enough to keep the cluster warm in a full hive.

The following spring, once they start rearing brood in earnest, move the nucs into full colonies.

Check back periodically for updates.

 
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