Friday, October 16, 2015

Fall Harvest and Winter Prep

After first thinking we might have a banner harvest, and then awhile back seeing fewer frames drawn out, we ended with a moderate harvest of about 4 gallons, or 48 pounds.  Now, starting from the one hive that survived the winter and making three splits, I didn't expect much from the starter hives.
However, it was hive #2, the strongest of the splits, that produced the most honey.  This is with a qualification--at one point, upon inspection I had looked all through hive #1 trying to see how the queen was doing.  I did not find her and found that the hive was pretty much honey bound.  They did produce a lot of honey, just not in the supers.  After putting in some fresh frames, the queen eventually began to lay again and all was well, but they had put so much energy into filling those frames we just didn't get honey from them like I would have liked.

So, next year, these are things I really need to keep in mind:  watch closely for bees filling all the frames in the brood box.  Get honey supers on plenty early.  And remove supers once full so the bees don't begin to consume them in late summer, when food becomes more scarce.

Kathy scraping off the cells.

Drawing off the honey after it has gone through two filters.
After honey extraction, our focus has been on winter prep.  Getting all 4 hives through the winter is our prime goal.  Hive #4 is certainly the weakest, but it has more bees than I want to combine with another hive.  My biggest concern with them has been winter stores, so I've been feeding them a lot and hope they will have enough.

Last winter, moisture in the hive was a considerable problem, and no doubt contributed to bee kill.  So, I've made a quilt box for each hive, filled with DRY wood shavings.  I put muslin on the bottom of the box, with one inch holes on all sides for ventilation.  These sit on top of the inner cover, which is on top of a spacer that gives room for the food patties.



We again used MAQS as our mite treatment.  I plan to wrap the hives with roofing felt this year instead of the foam insulation.  And, we'll keep our fingers crossed!