June, July and August
Honey extraction

Springtime honey (if any) is taken off at the end of June. This honey is expected to set rapidly owing to the presence of dandelion nectar. Experience has shown that this honey could set before it can be extracted. In the past this honey has been fed back to the bees as a winter store.
Queen rearing

This is normally started in the second week in May, however, if the weather is unfavourable then it is best to delay until the weather improves.
If the May weather is favourable then it will be the middle of July at the earliest before the new queens can be assessed and ready for sale.
Swarm control

This is perhaps the hardest part of beekeeping. Most books would suggest that monitoring starts in earnest at the beginning of May with an examination of each colony for queen cells. How to do this !

In spite of one best intentions swarm control is not always successful. The recommended 10 day interval between inspections is not always possible because of other commitments; so inevitably some queen cells are formed but are not discovered until it is too late.

I have found it pays to make a quick inspection of the apiary every morning, looking for a swarm on the fruit trees and hedge we have. Sometimes a swarm has spent the night in such a situation and is ready to fly the following morning.

It is a case of doing ones best and taking immediate action if queen cells are found. It goes without saying that a well thought out strategy is to be followed before an inspection is undertaken; with all necessary extra equipment at hand ready for immediate use. I have dealt with this aspect under 'swarming' and 'the swarming impulse' in the menu above.
Seasons: Summer
Monitoring for varroa

Each colony is monitored for varroa at the start of each month. A varroa screen is placed underneath each OMF for 4 days to gets an idea of the natural mite drop.
black bees with nasanov gland
One one occasion when I had just started beekeeping I returned from holiday and set about an immediate inspection of the two hives I had at the time. One had swarmed and left queen cells behind but for some reason the bees were not allowing the new queens to emerge. Only when the bees were disturbed by my inspection were the new queens able to emerge. I was suddenly faced with the problem what to do with a handful of virgin queens; panic set in. I should have had some small containers at hand e.g. matchboxes into which the virgins could simply be popped.

Next Page: Autumn
The photo on the right shows two bees from a swarm on the alighting board with their Nasanov glands open inviting the bees to occupy their new home.
black bees on fuschia
Fuchsia is an important nectar source in Ireland from July onwards.
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