Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Season End Summary

Bees have been very busy on these warm mid-October days.
I know I haven't posted for some time.  Mostly, the year was spent building hives back up to strength.  After coming out of the winter with only one strong hive, I did two splits.  Both took off very well, better in fact than the "mother" hive, which by August was looking less robust than its offspring.  The hive had filled out about 70% of one super, but waiting until mid-September did not produce any more honey than that.
The two new hives were able to fill out enough stores for winter but no excess.
In all, we only got a scant gallon and a quart.  Sadly, we had an open cock on our 5 gallon pail so when I poured honey from the extractor into the filters on the pail, we lost about a pint of precious honey before Kathy discovered our error and notified me with an ear-splitting shriek.
Upon examination of the main hive, I discovered the reason for the lack of energy we had noted was due to the absence of a queen.  She either departed mid-summer or died, and they failed to make a new queen.  Double eggs in cells, eggs planted on the sides of the cells, and no worker brood indicated some laying workers.  So, what to do in September when you discover you have no queen, yet the other two hives are bursting at the seams and this hive also has many bees.  I contacted a member of our local club, Dave, and he was able to provide me with a healthy, vigorous nuc.  I did a newspaper combine and the bees seem to have taken to the new queen.  A few weeks later, and the hive looks healthy and happy again.  I probably will not go into the hive to confirm the queen is present and accepted, unless we get a really nice warm spell.  Even then, things from the outside look much better and from somewhere the bees are busy bringing in some bright orange pollen, a good sign.
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After honey collection, I built this small windbreak fence on the north side of the hives.  I also treated with MAQS for the mites and treated with syrup for nosema as well.  All entrance reducers are in to the small size and I'll wrap in November.  We're still enjoying a very pleasant autumn weather which should continue for another week at least.  Hopefully, with all these precautions, we can come into spring with three strong hives.  If that happens, we could have our best honey harvest yet.
This was one very persistent wasp.  She would fly down onto the landing pad of a hive, get into a real tumble with one or two bees, fly back up, then go down onto the landing pad of the adjacent hive and fight all over again.  I watched her do this several times before I had to quit.  Wonder how that battle came out.

3 comments:

  1. I had a similar experience with Yellow Jackets at my hive this year. I watched them orbit the hive entrance until one was brave enough to go in. 10 seconds later the wasp was being dragged out by a bee. The struggle was pretty even until I decapitated the wasp with my hive tool. Figured it would make it a bit easier for my girls to haul out =)

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  2. Hah, yes, Mark, we're not only their keepers but also their guardians! I'll have to go back out here in the next couple days and just do some observing; they're so fun to just watch.

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  3. We had only about a gallon of honey this year too. It was really sad, our harvest. We had so many problems including pesticide poisoning. http://nycgardening.blogspot.com/2014/10/fall-honey-harvest-2014.html

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