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Summer Beehive Care

summer beehive care

Although the temperatures are on the rise, believe it or not, your hives are preparing for winter right now! And what you are doing right now with your bees directly affects how well they will overwinter. That may sound daunting, but it’s not really. Following a simple schedule will ensure that your bees have the help they need, and they will take care of the rest!

Main Components of Summer Care

The topics highlighted in gold are discussed in this issue or previous issues and are linked to take you straight to them. Let's get to the others.


Beyond Varroa control, nutrition tops the list of important interventions required postharvest. Keeping these few points in mind will make this portion easy.

  • Thirty pounds of stored honey in the second deep or fifteen pounds in a single deep: If you have anything less, feed.
  • Pollen diversity: As summer heats up, less and less pollen of value will be available for your bees. Area feeding dry pollen will help to continue brood rearing.
  • Water sources will diminish as rain becomes less frequent. Provide your bees with a good, dependable water source within 50 feet of their hives. Water is required to cool the hive and mix with honey to feed larvae. See "Trickle Feeding."

Summer Boxes

A key factor in beekeeping is to know when to add boxes and when to take them away. Often, we are better at one than the other! It’s common knowledge that we add boxes at the 80% full mark (whether that be brood boxes or honey supers). Most colonies will not require you to add boxes at this point. Taking boxes away, on the other hand, can be a bit more complicated! In all reality, the exact same 80% rule applies. As population peak turns to population decrease due to the queen’s slowing her laying in the summer dearth, we need to take action if we now have too much unused space. If you find the hive has reduced enough to condense down to one deep (or to two if you were at three), the only frames you would want to eliminate are the unused frames, keeping brood in the center and resources to the outside. Keep in mind that you would only do this if your colony has really reduced in size. For the most part, hives sustain their strength if we continue to feed and manage them well.

Managing Mean Bees

This should be a key topic for the August issue so I won’t elaborate, but I will say this—dearth will make colonies grouchy. Period! Other factors are

  1. hunger,
  2. queen issues, too many bees in one location, and
  3. outside aggravation (varmints, weed eaters, etc.)

Equalizing Hives

We actually have the opportunity to equalize hives at various times of the year. Depending on what your hive needs, your actions will vary. But regardless, your donor hives need to have Varroa mites under control, be disease free, and be robust. Otherwise, you could put them in the same position as the needy colony—then where would you be? Right back to where you started!

How to Equalize Hives

  • Equalize brood: Take a capped brood frame nearing emergence. This would be one of the darkest-colored capped brood frames. Shake off the bees and leave them with the donor hive. Insert the frame left or right of the center of the needy colony. You will obviously have to remove a frame to have room for the new one. As long as the frame is Varroa and disease free, you can trade it with the donor hive.

Locating a brood frame with the most capped cells you can find will ensure you get the most out of the transfer.

The last thing you want to do is go into summer with a weak hive. Boosting hives with brood, nurse bees tending larvae (future bees), or honey can go a long way to increasing the hive's ability to survive summer.

  • Equalize bees: Choose an “open larvae” (uncapped) brood frame covered in nurse bees. Either shake the nurse bees off at the donor hive or transport them with the frame. If transporting them, shake them off at the entrance to the needy colony but smoke just prior to doing so. These bees will be more readily accepted and go right in and get to work. Repeat with up to three frames, but do so from various healthy hives. You wouldn’t want to stress another hive to help this one. The same applies with the frame(s) you remove as previously mentioned.
  • Equalize honey: This one is easy. Most often there is one overachieving hive that has plenty of honey frames to share. Simply add to the outside of the brood nest of the needy colony. They will be happy to get it! Note: Adding new undrawn foundation is fine, but consider that they will have to draw the comb and nonstop feeding will be needed. Trickle feeding is ideal for this! Summer is hard on bees and—let’s face it—us too! Keep your biweekly hive check timely and act when you see an issue. Test and treat for Varroa if needed, and keep feeding your bees until after dearth (at least). With all this, we’ll go into fall with healthy, happy bees.


Check out this video. It contains everything you need to know to get your hive through a hot and dry summer dearth! What is covered here is optimal management. Keep in mind that what matters most is mites, queens, and nutrition. With those three pillars focused on, it's hard to go wrong in beekeeping!

Title: Summer Inspections & Complete Care for Beekeepers


The video "Summer Inspections & Complete Care" offers a comprehensive guide for beekeepers on maintaining their hives after the honey harvest. This summary details essential post-harvest steps tailored for beekeepers in different climates, particularly emphasizing tasks for those in warmer southern regions.

Key Steps for Post-Honey Harvest Hive Management

  • Initial Hive Assessment: Within a week of the honey harvest, check the hive's condition. This includes a brief inspection to assess bee population and the health of brood and honey stores.
  • Optimal Inspection Time: Conduct inspections early in the morning or in the evening to avoid the midday heat, which can significantly affect bee activity and visibility within the hive.
  • Population Check: Bee population can appear reduced during hot times of the day as bees either stay lower in the hive or are out foraging.
  • Honey and Brood Examination: Look for the presence of capped honey and brood as indicators of a healthy hive. Ensure there is enough honey stored to sustain the hive.
  • Varroa Mite Monitoring: Implement mite checks using sticky boards or alcohol washes. Understanding mite levels helps determine the need for and type of treatment.
  • Mite Treatment Options: Choose treatments based on mite infestation levels, with options like Apivar for lower infestations or Apiguard for more severe cases.
  • Feeding Strategy: Trickle feeding is recommended to prevent the hive from becoming honey-bound, which could limit the queen's laying space. This involves small, regular syrup additions.
  • Nutritional Supplements: Enhance syrup with nutritional supplements like Apis Biologics or Complete to mimic natural nectar, supporting bee health during non-flowering periods.
  • Supplemental Pollen: In drought conditions or when natural pollen is scarce, consider providing pollen patties mixed with nutritional supplements to support brood growth and overall hive strength.

Conclusion - Summer Beehive Care

Managing a bee hive post-honey harvest involves careful monitoring, timely feeding, and disease control to ensure bees remain healthy through the hotter months. This proactive approach not only prepares the hive for the immediate season but also sets a strong foundation for the coming winter, helping beekeepers maintain robust and productive colonies.

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