Agriculture

Bee Care

Like all living creatures, new bee colonies must be fed. Sugar syrup is easily obtained and can be used for feed. Commercial feeders can be purchased from a supplier. Be sure to select a style that is enclosed within the colony; bees are less likely to rob from their neighbors with enclosed feeders. Once the hive configuration is filled with developed combs, feed can be removed and surplus supers can be added. Never feed bees while honey surplus supers are installed, because this will compromise the honey.

Protecting the Bees

Honeybees, like all animals, are susceptible to diseases and parasites. One notable parasite beekeepers must manage is the varroa mite. Nearly every colony will have varroa mites. Left untreated, infestations can kill colonies within one year. Varroa mite treatments are available from suppliers and should be used during a period of nectar dearth, or absence of nectar flow.

In central West Virginia, the ideal time for treatment is between mid-July and mid- to late-August, when the summer sourwood nectar flow has ended. This period of treatment reduces number of mites and enables bees to continue brood production until the late fall months. This ensures a strong entry to winter for the bees. Nectar flows vary by area, so be sure to tailor treatments based on your region’s nectar flows. Remember, never apply any treatment or feed to bees while honey surplus supers are installed on your colonies.

Beekeeping is enjoyable and rewarding for many reasons. As winter approaches, use the time to prepare – after all, spring is just around the corner!