It’s the end of July, 2013 and what a year it has been! We have had more rain than has been normal in the past several years which means food for our bees is more abundant than it has been. Also, we are not experiencing a large number of grasshoppers which have had such a negative impact on our bee’s food source in the past. Hopefully this will continue on.
Although we still have at least 6 to 8 weeks before the weather turns colder, we can be thinking ahead about harvesting honey and winterizing our hives. There are two different schools of thought on harvesting honey. Some of us harvest in the fall, making sure to leave enough for the bees to live on during the winter. A good rule of thumb is two deeps full of honey should keep our girls through the winter. You do want to monitor your bees especially if we have an unusually cold or long winter. Others do not take any honey during the fall, leaving it all for the bees. Then in the spring they harvest what is left over from the winter.
One of the problems that we encountered last year in the Black Hills area was a series of warm spells followed by a quickly developing cold snap. This resulted in the bees breaking cluster when it warmed up to clean the hive, etc. but not getting back in cluster soon enough and being caught be the cold spell. We found a number of hives that were dead but that still had honey in them. Winterizing our hives will be addressed later.