2What’s Your Mite Count? Economic Thresholds Natural drop < per day (3 day avg.)Alcohol shake – 7 mites per 300Sugar shake – 4 mites per 300 (1/2 cup)
3What if my mid-season count is too high or I’m seeing deformed wings? Consider treating during the August “dearth” (we’ll get to how in a few minutes)Site the hive, or prune to get maximum sunshine on the hiveSun helps reduce both varroa and nosema
5Why combine hives? To save the bees in a weak hive To re-queen a queenless hiveTo unite a late season swarm with a strong colony
6Weak hivesIn the fall, a hive may not have thrived due to many factors and has a low chance of surviving the winterA hive may be queenless, and too small to justify re-queening (or it’s too late in the season)
7A Captured SwarmIf you catch a late season swarm, it may be too small to survive the winterHive the swarmLet it settle, then combine (in a week or two)
8Assess hive strengthIs the population low (i.e. not filling out the brood boxes)?Good rule: 6 frames with brood in SeptemberAre honey stores low? Tilt or pick-up the hive. Check frames. If you see many empty ones and it is light to lift, it may be a candidateIs the queen weak? See week 3 but spotty brood pattern, many drones.
9How to combineUnite weak to strong. Two weak hives does not equal a strong hive, it equals a bigger weak hive.If you have two weak hives, then it is better to create nucs. The smaller colony has a better chance of survival.Pick a day when the temp is above 60 and then temps won’t fall below 50, otherwise the bees will cluster
10How to combine You will need to kill the weaker queen first Reduce the size of both hives by removing empty frames, moving fuller frames (honey, pollen, bee bread), into consolidated boxYou may not be able to reduce the hive to 3 mediums or two deeps. You can over- winter with more boxes provided they have resources in each box.
11How to combineYou can’t just put the hives together because they will fightNeed to gradually combineNewspaper method
15Newspaper combineRemove inner and outer covers from receiving hive (stronger one)Place a single sheet of newspaper over the top of this hive (on top of bars), making sure that the paper overlaps the edges.Cut a few slits in the newspaper. This allows the bees to become accustomed to the other hives smells
16Newspaper combineCover the top box as you would any hive, but add a feeder. This hive may lose its field force due to the move so you will need to feed it. Cover as you would any other hive.Leave it alone for a week.Check it. The newspaper should be chewed through and the hives happy together
17ConsolidateAfter another week, inspect the hive and see if you can reduce it further.The goal is one hive with normal number of boxes.But, if all the boxes are full of bees, brood and food, over-winter it like that. You can split it in the spring, requeen the split and have a new hive!
18Mite Treatments, Chemical Apistan (fluvalinate)Checkmite (coumaphos)Amitraz/ApivarHivastanMites quickly develop resistance – all we’re doing is breeding stronger mites.Studies are showing sub-lethal negative effects on brood viability and queen health.Please, just don’t.
19“Natural” or Soft Treatments Follow label instructions and the following products are very safe and very effective.Each has different limitations, so decide what works best for your lifeDo it for the nextgeneration of beekeepers
20ApiLifeVar (Thymol and Menthol) (not to be confused with ApiVar)Tablet form – works with vapors3 treatments, 7-10 days apartPut wafers on top box top barsClose up holes and reduce the entrancePut in your inspection boardIt can make the bees a bit testyTreat with honey supers off (and don’t put them back on for a month.)Use when daytime temps are between 54-95°Menthol treats tracheal mites
21Apiguard (Thymol)Gel form in a tray – bees clean it out and it gets all over them2 treatments, 14 days apartPut above top box top bars with a shim so bees can get into the trayPut in inspection boardBees may cluster on the front of the hiveTreat with honey supers off (they can go back on when you’re done)Use when daytime temps are between °Treat for tracheal mites with grease patties, or keep Russian bees and don’t worry so much.
22Mite Away Quick Strips (Formic Acid) Slow release of (stinky) vapors in a gel strip1 treatment, works for 7 daysPut 2 pads on top bars between brood boxesRecommended for hives 6 brood frames strongLeave ventilation openTreat with honey supers on if you want (formic acid occurs naturally in honey)Use when daytime temps are between 50-92°Treat for tracheal mites with grease patties, or keep Russian bees and don’t worry so much.
23Oxalic AcidDire warnings about safety to the beekeeper kept me awayThere is no approved on-label application for the state of MaineHopguardJust approved last summerResults look very positive, but it is expensive and challenging for people with 2-3 hives.
24Honey Harvest!Typical fall harvest happens between Labor Day and September 20thNow is the time to start getting your hive set for winterRepositioning frames – for winter we want honey top and sides and brood centered belowA top hive body of capped brood will most likely emerge and those cells will be filled with honey
25Getting the bees out: Shake or brush Escape boards Fume boards Dramatic but quick and efficientEscape boardsConvenient if you have the extra day or twoFume boardsWorks great if it’s sunny and warmWear gloves and a veil!
26Extracting HoneyPlease don’t crush and strain – your bees worked too hard for this.Borrow the Club ExtractorIf you’re going to sell honey – apply for a Home Processor License, Dept. of AgricultureConsider hiring a pro
27Uncapping and spinning Use a hot knife, or a cold knife in a pan of simmering waterIf using a tangential extractor, spin the first side slowly, then the second side, then go back and re-do the first; get maximum honey without blowing out combs
28BeeswaxDon’t waste it – put burr comb in the freezer and add it to your cappings waxDon’t use your good pots for wax – get cheap ones and dedicate them to waxCover sticky wax with water; heat till it’s all liquid; pour through an old t-shirt into a bucket; let it settle and coolDry and re-melt the disk in a double boiler and filter through paper towels.
29Other hive products to consider Propolis – has amazing health propertiesPollen – super food, and in huge demand for allergy relief(We’ll buy your frozen pollen!)
30Fall Feeding Medicate or not? (I don’t.) Why are we feeding? Feed 2:1 syrup to hives low on storesIt should be their fault, not yoursAt least 1 deep or 2 mediums of capped honey on top at Thanksgiving (with at least 3 weeks to cure.)Stop feeding by mid-OctoberHoney is healthierFeed back frames above inner coverAfter nectar flowExtract unfinished honey and feed it backConsider feeding pollen if a hive is behind or unhealthy