Tucking in the Bees

Checking the hives

I did the Fall bee check-up today.

They look pretty good. There are still a lot of them, probably 14 frames worth, but no brood, as there should not be until March or so. They’re still laying down honey, a very good thing as they’re kind of marginal on stores. I left them the honey super in preference to taking it and feeding them. That swarm in June hit them hard and it was August before it looked like a prosperous hive again. I was afraid for a while that they’d gone queenless, and of course I didn’t dare look right after the swarm because I would have destroyed most of the queen cells.

The bad news is that they still didn’t draw the lower hive body, even after I reversed them a few months ago. So the honey was going into the upper hive body and the honey super, even though there were a good four frames of bees down there. So, I reversed them again, hoping they’ll finally get the hint. I’m a little concerned about leaving the big gap between the two stashes of food. However,they do have time to move the honey, or hopefully draw and fill at least a few frames in the empty super.

The goldenrod and asters are still going strong, although I believe the Japanese knotweed is past. I saw yellow jackets and at least four kinds of bees (bumble, honey, carpenter, and an unknown number of species of solitary bee) working the area around the garden today. There’s also a big patch of spearmint still blooming there, but the bumblebees pretty much have it to themselves.

They aren’t actually tucked in yet. I’m planning to wrap the hive in foam insulation, and cover that with black plastic so the birds don’t eat it. But that’s a November thing. I’ll probably look inside then too, not that I’ll be able to do much if they’re not ready. I keep remembering the two hives that committed suicide in 2011. They ate what little honey they had in August, and it just wasn’t possible to feed them enough to survive. They were dead by Christmas. But that waits until winter.

I’m disappointed that we didn’t get any honey, but cautiously optimistic that we’ll at least have a hive in the spring.

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