The longest day of the year, the shortest night, the first day of summer. I often thing about the history of bee-keeping, bee-mastering and in general animal husbandry not just on the one-year or lifetime scale but also on a thousand-year time scale. While I talk here about the management of today, I ponder the ancestors that kept bees under their care and how they used today a day to make a change.
Line with the solstice we have started to harvest our honey in some locations. Harvesting our spring honey now lets us 1) get equipment back to the for the summer flows. 2) Since I’m picking up the honey supers (the top boxes in which honey is stored for human consumption) I treat with Formic Pro(r). and 3) I’m able to do a quick evaluation of the colony. If colony had a queen event in the spring, I am able to get a feel for it now before the issue worsens.
Treating with formic and evaluating the queens now lets me get ready to requeen hives that have an issue. Having a young vigorous queen in the hive going into winter improves winter ready-ness and, some may say, reduces the swarming tendance of the colony next spring. After the solstice is a time bee-keepers commonly requeen their hives for that reason.
The important thing is the mindset in which I am. I am already thinking about winter in the way of Varroa control, queen health, and over all colony health. If there is an issue this is the time to find it and fix it.
So however, you celebrate I hope you have a joyful and happy Summer Solstice.