Bee Update

We’ve had varying luck with our bees this year.  Of the two packages and two nucs we bought one of each went queenless. The package was probably my fault: I opened the wrong end of the queen cage, so she got out immediately instead of having an extra couple days to establish her place. I’ve no idea about the nuc.

All three hives just hung on through the horrible weather in July and August. Once it cleared up they all started doing better, and we are going to get some honey this year, perhaps more than last, though not as much as 2005. I got into the hives on the seventh after a month of leaving them alone.

Superhive, the one that came through last winter was thriving, and didn’t try to kill me, which was a refreshing change. They were working the Japanese knotweed and actually ready for a second super which they of course got. I coul tell it was the knotweed because it was very light honey, while aster and goldenrod, the other possibilities are dark (and not very yummy).

The surviving package was doing okay, had their two hive bodies reasonably full and were starting on their honey super. I left them to it.

The remaining nuc is marginal. I gave them ten pounds of syrup (5 pounds of sugar, all we had on hand) and wished them well.

At the time my plan was to let them go for two weeks, then put the bee excluders on the two hives with supers. However last Saturday the season was clearly winding down and I decided to put the excluders on on Sunday. Mother Nature disagreed. On Sunday, when it wasn’t raining, it was threatening to, and I was not about to mess with superhive under those conditions. I gave the nuc twenty pounds of syrup and decided to stick with plan A.

By the way, last week the food pantry gave us broken bags of some seriously fancy stuff. Twenty five pounds of organic ‘blonde’,  not white, sugar, 50 lbs of brown rice, 20 lbs of steel cut oats and 100 pounds of random other stuff. We grabbed ten pounds of oats for ourselves (the pigs got the rest) and all the sugar (we’ll buy Domino for the bees).  We already have a year’s worth of rice on hand so we’ll cut that 50-50 with game bird grower for the birds. The pigs can’t eat raw grain any more than we can, and it’s bad for the herbivores so Lisa is going to experiment with sprouting the other stuff and then feeding everybody. There’s probably 100 birds and mammals on this farm. Of them, Princess and Disa would turn up their noses at sprouted Mung beans. Good odds. Lots of vitamins in January.

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