The transition to the cooler fall and winter months is in full effect. The bees are irritable and both the colony and the beekeeper are preparing the hive for the months ahead.
The population of the hive is shrinking as the queen continues to slow her egg-laying, and drones are being removed to conserve winter stores. Nectar and pollen sources become more scarce as cooler weather moves in and plants begin to die or go dormant. The lack of nectar, combined with cooling weather and robbing, may lead to irritable, and sometimes, aggressive behavior with your bees.
The colony will cluster inside the hive on cooler nights and worker bees will begin to bring in large amounts of propolis to seal the hive against drafts. If there’s intense activity outside the entrance, look for stronger hives or wasps and hornets trying to steal honey. One sure sign is when your bees appear to be fighting outside the entrance.
In September, consider reducing hive bodies down to two deep boxes, unless you’re participating in fall nectar flow. In that case, you’ll need to wait.
Final honey harvests
Harvest your honey crop, if it hasn’t been extracted already. Cold honey is much more difficult to extract. The ideal extraction temperature is about 75 to 80 degrees. Remember to leave the colony with at least 80 pounds of honey for the winter. Never take honey from the bottom two boxes. This is their food and where they stored their syrup, medication and mite treatments.
Check your hive for honey stores. If the hive does not feel heavy or the bottom brood supers are not 75-80% full of honey, consider feeding sugar syrup (as directed). Once started, continue feeding until they stop taking it or slow down considerably. Then remove any leftover sugar syrup from the hive so as not to increase problems due to condensation.
Pull off all remaining honey supers to either securely store or extract them. You should have all of the supers removed by the second week in September.
Treat for mites & diseases
After the honey supers are removed, treat for mites – both tracheal and varroa – if necessary. This is the best time as the colony is going to be broodless and any mites present will be exposed to your preferred removal method. Apply treatment when the daytime temperature is consistently below 85 degrees. Consider adding grease patties and treat for diseases, such as foulbrood and Nosema.
September Beekeeping Checklist
Estimated time needed: 3+ hours*
*Time estimates do not include equipment repair and cleaning or honey extraction.
Extract ripe honey
Provide a fresh water supply
Check for the queen's presence
Apply the fourth treatment of Salvation Salve
Test and treat (if needed) for Varroa and Tracheal Mites. Read labels carefully and don’t contaminate your honey crop.
Fall Feeding | Fat Bee protein patty and syrup
Attend your local bee club meeting
Flowers Bees Love in Late Summer & Fall
Bloom times vary depending on the variety, seasonal weather and elevation.
- Moss Rose (Portulaca)
- Blazing Star
- Chrysanthemum (Mums)
- Culver’s Root
- Evening Primrose
- False Aster
- False Sunflower
- Giant Hyssop
- Golden Aster
- Great Blue Lobelia
- Joe-Pye Weed & Boneset
- Mist Flower
- Mountain Mint
- Obedient Plant
- Prairie Clover
- Prickly Pear
- Rattlesnake Master
- White Snakeroot
- Wild Bergamot
- Wild Sage
Other Beekeeping Considerations
Weather is the ultimate calendar when taking care of bees. Depending on the weather and your bee type, the time frame for activities should be adjusted earlier or later as necessary. You will have more success adapting to the bee’s schedule, rather than them adapting to yours.
Beekeepers are many and varied; some choose a hands off approach, while some are very hands on. Some choose to medicate and others are using other Integrated Pest Management (IPM) methods which do not include medication. Whatever your preference, you can and should adapt this calendar to fit your needs.
Thank you for keeping bees, and let us know if you have any questions regarding your hive. We’re always happy to help.
LOOKING AHEAD TO WINTER?