It's been a busy bee season thus far. Swarming is finally slowing down and our hives are settling in to preparing for this coming winter. The month of May and June are our heaviest honey flow periods. Things really slow down in July, especially late July, and August unless we get frequent rain storms rolling through, not a high probability here in the Utah Deseret. So if you want a honey crop. It's important to get your hive to the point you can put your honey supers on anytime from Late April or May till the first of June. Supers put on after the middle of June will usually not get very full if used at all. Especially, If the strength of the bee populations is low.
One of my key principals of beekeeping is Queen management. As goes the strength of the queen, goes the strength of the hive. Having a young vigorous queen in the hive will make all the difference in the bee population of the hive, which impacts honey production and cluster size in the winter..
We try to re-queen every year to year and a half. I like to start doing OTS queen re-queening (On The Spot Queen rearing, (details of this method are found in Mel Disselkoen's book "OTS Queen Rearing") 4-5 days after the summer equinox (which is usually around the 21st of June. It's June 20th this year, 2020) Queens raised after the days start to get shorter produce great queens that think it's spring and are vigorous layers through the fall and come out in the critical Spring build up laying hard. The hive is reaching it's peak bee population and the hive usually has lots of food resources packed away. It's late enough that your new queen comes into egg production the first part of August, making her a fall queen, but early enough for them to raise a great Fat winter bee cluster and still be a young vigorous queen in the following spring.
It also creates a break in the brood cycle that will set varroa mites back a bit when they normally would be starting to hit their exponential growth curve. The timing seems to work out perfectly to help the hive re-queen and still get a good honey harvest and have them be in great shape heading into winter.
If you wait for queen failure for the hive to initiate superseding a new queen, Murphy's law says it will happen at the worst possible time due to either low population or poor mating opportunity. Nucs and small population hives will raise queens but a queen raised by a large population hive are better fed and the temperature during incubation more consistent. Hives that raise a supersedure queen, at the right time, make awesome queens. By doing the OTS in early July (the perfect time) you stimulate them to raise a queen when conditions are optimal. (see the results of a new OTS queen in the attached picture. This was an mid August frame of brood.
The Action Items for June are-
1, Make sure your hive stays queen right and monitor for Diseases and good hive growth
2. Make a plan to re-queen if it wasn't already done in the spring when making splits.
3. Manage the honey flow by adding on honey-supers (Deep, or Medium boxes) and giving them space to grow. The equivalent of 3 deep boxes is usually adequate here in Utah.
4. Overwintered hives should be monitored for varroa mite build up.
I hope you and your families and your bees are staying safe and healthy. Happy BeeKeeping!