September in Florida is ever so slightly showing signs of Fall’s arrival. There was a little fog at daybreak this morning, along with a lower starting temperature, and the evenings are starting to show that subtle golden hue of the Autumn sunset. As welcome as the break in heat will be, for now our days continue to remain very hot with occasional afternoon thunderstorms. You should still try to inspect your hives after the foraging bees have started flying and before the heat of the day. If the skies are clear, you can also get back into them in the evening, though you’ll want to have them closed back up before all the foragers arrive back home.
So what should Florida beekeepers be doing in September?
First and foremost, Central and South Florida Beekeepers should be ready to super your strong colonies as there is typically a strong Brazilian Pepper and Golden Rain Tree honey flow this month. The flow is strong and quick, being well prepared will be key to a successful harvest this Fall.
Due to the typical strength and speed of this honey flow, you will want to be on the lookout for potential swarming. Make sure your Swarm Traps are in place and baited. It would also be a good idea to have your equipment ready to make splits to control your swarms. Make sure to call us to schedule a Queen for pickup before you make a split, you will need to have your split queenless for about 24 hours before you introduce the new queen. Due to the time it takes for a new queen to develop and hatch a new brood, and the potential for Africanized genetics, we do not recommend letting your hives re-queen themselves.
North Florida does not grow Brazilian Pepper bushes in abundance however you may see the Golden Rain Trees blooming, especially in residential areas as the trees are typically used as an ornamental centerpiece. If you have enough of them within the foraging radius of your hives you may see a bump in brood production and potentially some stored honey.
All regions should continue to monitor for varroa mites. You can take a sample of your bees, targeting approximately 200 – 300 bees per sample size. If your apiary has multiple hives, you will want to sample about 10% of the apiary to best determine your mite levels. This sample size can be easily taken using the Varroa Easy Check tool. The ratio you are looking for 3 mites per 100 bees in your collected sample. If you reach or surpass this level you should treat your colonies immediately to help prevent colony collapse.
The Varroa Mite treatment options we carry for use in the Florida’s late summer heat are Apivar and HopGuard 3. You may also begin using Apiguard to treat for mites, and you need to use the 25g treatment amount if the outside temperatures continue to remain above 86ºF.
Please note: Apiguard and Apivar are not safe to use during a honey flow if you are planning on harvesting honey for human consumption you should use HopGuard 3.
What’s in Bloom?
North Florida: Bush Aster, Golden Rain Tree, Goldenrod, Mexican Clover, Primrose Willow, Red Bay, Smartweed, Spanish Needle, Spiderwort, Spotted Mint, Sumac, Vine Aster
Central Florida: Brazilian Pepper, Bush Aster, Golden Rain Tree, Goldenrod, Mexican Clover, Primrose Willow, Red Bay, Smartweed, Spanish Needle, Spiderwort, Spotted Mint, Sumac, Vine Aster
South Florida: Brazilian Pepper, Golden Rain Tree, Melaleuca, Mexican Clover, Palm, Primrose Willow, Shrubby False Buttonweed, Smartweed, Spanish Needle