I was planning to do a hive inspection yesterday but it started raining just as I got everything together and then the one brief window of sun…was overtaken by rain and it kept raining! Because we need more rain. Right.
Today was shaping up to be a nice sunny day as is tomorrow but it was kind of light today at work so I left early to take care of the hives before I found myself with a late swarm.
I did this completely alone so there are no pictures until the very end. It took me an hour and a half! It was unreal and I didn’t even get to look in the bottom deeps. It really helps to have a second pair of hands.
I added more frames to the give the bees more space to expand, once they start to feel crowded, they will consider leaving via a swarm. You do not want a late season swarm. You just don’t, there won’t be enough time for them to build up for the winter.
This hive is crawling with bees, oh my. I couldn’t see all the brood frames but brood started the 3rd frame in and if that was the case on both ends, that means there are 6 frames of brood. Don’t hold me to that, but it’s an estimate. I have a feeling adding that super of honey made them feel like they could really start raising brood, in addition to having enough bees to actually do the care-taking of the eggs/larvae.
Hive beetles and the traps. I saw no beetles walking around. Seriously…NONE. As for the traps: there were 2 or 3 Beetle Blasters and one Beetle Jail. There were no beetles in the Jail but several in the blasters. I took one blaster out, added my CD case trap to the honey super to get any stragglers. Hive beetles fly in from very far away and can apparently smell pollen in concentrations of 2 parts per million from 4 miles away. So even though I didn’t SEE any SHB, they will find my hives. The SHB I had were from Peter’s hive but you can bet that if there’s a beekeeper near you, you will have these pests. SHB management is not about eradication…it’s just not possible. It’s absolutely about managing the numbers and keeping them down to prevent damage to the hive.
I added another deep with wax foundation frames to Melissa. It looked like they were working all of the frames in the bottom deep and since I had added a super full of honey, they really had nowhere to expand. By adding another deep, I give them more places for brood and more space to store honey and pollen. In our area, they recommend wintering on 2 deeps. If they draw all this foundation out (fingers crossed) and fill it, they will be in good shape for the winter.
I moved a frame of brood and one of honey from the bottom deep to the top to encourage them to move up. It worked for Demeter, hopefully it will work for them.
I also added a half pollen patty, the one from the last inspection was gone. Hungry girls.
They were getting a bit testy with me, lots of head-butting. From what I hear bees get a little irritable as the colder weather comes in. Hopefully it’s not the genetics of the bees. I’ve noticed that the smoke seems to make them more annoyed. They’re okay with a few puffs at the screened bottom board and the front, but if you smoke them when they’re open, they take to the air. I’ve started using pillowcases as covers to help them stay calm and to keep other bees/insects from getting interested in the honey. If you leave them open for a long time, especially in a dearth, you can start some serious robbing.
Well, these girls are amazing. I didn’t want to irritate them too much so I didn’t start messing around in the brood chambers (the 2 deeps). Also doing all this alone was very hard and stressful, so I minimized my intrusion. It looked like all the frames in the top deep were being worked. I added 10 frames of foundationless medium frames to give them more room for storage. To get them to draw straight comb, you are supposed to intersperse the foundationless frames among already drawn comb. Fortunately, I had such a thing.
So the honey super I had was from Peter and very well propolized. When we picked this up from the parent hive, I hadn’t touched the frames, just put them on Demeter. Today I had to separate the frames and put in the ones I made. The propolis was like taffy, it’s incredible. I checkerboarded the frames: one full honey frame, one foundationless frame, one honey frame, one foundationless, etc. So now there are 2 supers, each with 5 foundationless frames and 5 full honey frames.
By doing this, I give them space to store the Fall nectar flow. I just hope they’ll be able to draw the comb! I have no idea if this will work but have no other option.
I gave them the other half of the pollen patty, it’s in between the 2 honey supers.
I added a Beetle Blaster from Melissa to Demeter. I DID see SHB here and I noticed that they came out as I moved frames, I have a feeling the bees propolized them in their own traps and I let them loose. I’ll explain what I saw another time..it was during one of the hive inspections and I am convinced that breaking the propolis seal during inspections lets the beetles out.
I can’t wait to see if they start drawing their own comb, I hope there’s time! If it seems to go slowly, I’ll have to move the honey frames into one super again.