Much of the work to be carried out in June and July follows a similar pattern to May, with regular inspections for swarm control, checking brood for any signs of abnormalities. Any signs of disease should be investigated. Healthy brood is pearly white and lying in a tight ‘C’ in the bottom of the cells, cappings should be a light biscuity colour, dry and not sunken. If you are not sure, seek advice and / or help. Either contact an experienced beekeeper the NBU Regional Bee Inspector or one of the Seasonal Bee Inspectors.(Pete Davies 07900 292160; peter.davies@apha.gsi.gov.co.uk).

Any prolonged rainfall can have a serious impact on the colony. It restricts the bees from foraging yet the brood still has to be fed, along with a large number of adult bees. If early honey has been removed then a check on available stores is very important, or starvation can quickly occur – feed if necessary.

When visiting the apiary, check the ground near the hives for signs of bees with deformed wings crawling in the grass – a sure sign that Varroa numbers are increasing. Check drone brood in several areas of the colony for mites using an uncapping fork. Don’t put off treating a hive at any time if it becomes necessary. If you use Apiguard, remove any supers and store in a bee-proof way during treatment. They can be returned once treatment is complete. It is better to take action at an early stage because colony collapse is always a possibility.

Any old or deformed combs can be moved to the outside of the broodnest with a view to removing them next spring. If any combs go mouldy as the outside ones sometimes do, it may as well be those that are to be replaced.

Thought should be given to replacing old or poor queens. If a queen is to be introduced, best results are obtained if she is given during a nectar flow. A queen introduced when times are hard for the bees makes for uncertain acceptance of a new queen. If you have a nucleus hive, split the colony and introduce the new queen to the nucleus (make sure the old queen is not in there!) When she is settled and laying, find and remove the old queen and reunite the colony over newspaper.

Finally, long grass growing in front of the hive not only restricts the flight path but also annoys the bees when it is blowing side to side across the entrance, and when cut helps to keep the hive dry and the site tidy.