Did you know that big beautiful queen you have working away in your hive has already begun to taper off her laying? That’s right. After the summer solstice, June 21st, the days begin to shorten, and though its gradual at first, your queen is beginning to reduce the rate at which she lays. The length of the day governs her rate of laying. It wont be noticeable for some time to come as the eggs she has been laying at a peak rate will not produce their young for weeks to come.
It wont be noticeable right away, because in August your hive will brim to overflowing with bees and on those hot days you will see a lot of them hanging out on the front porch of the hive. (Or as a crusty old timer friend of mine says, “they just like a bunch of teenagers sitting around on the front porch smoking dope”.) I love the humor but normally what they are doing is fanning the hive to help keep it cool.
Queens born AFTER the summer solstice will lay eggs at a high rate, just like a spring queen gearing up for summer, because they have not experienced the summer solstice. Their egg laying rate will exceed that of a queen who lives through the summer solstice for about five to six weeks before it begins to taper off in preparation for winter.
This is a great time to split hives if you want replacement nucs or nucs to sell next spring. Do a split today, June 28, and you will have a laying queen in the hive approximately 30 days from now, or about the 28 of July. Just enough time for her to produce enough young to lay in the stores they need (you made need to feed just a little) and produce a large enough population to see the hive through the winter. I did it last year on July 1 and every nuc (five of them) not only wintered, but exploded in growth this last spring when that young queen began laying at her full potential.
The longest day has already come and gone and believe it or not, just about the time you are kicking back in the shade with a cold lemonade or adult beverage on that hot summer day, your queen is thinking along the same lines and reducing her egg laying. But don’t let that deter you from making some splits right now, splits that will serve you exceedingly well come this next spring.
May the honey soon flow and may it bee ever so sweet!