Kelley has taken off all the honey and has started to feed with top feeders. She will continue as long as the bees take the sugar syrup and will resume in the spring until the first honeyflow. She is a small commercial beekeeper with 50 hives and the honey is an important source of income for her. She is also a very successful organic gardener and shitake mushroom producer.
Al has also taken off all the honey. He is also a small commercial producer, but has only about 20 hives. After he takes the honey, he adds a shallow super with 10 frames of drawn comb. He feeds sugar syrup until the bees have completely filled the frames with the syrup. He won't feed again until spring unless necessary.
Tom is a 3rd year beekeeper with 8 hives. All of his hives are 8-frame medium boxes. He will leave 1 honey-filled box, and in addition to the honey stores in the brood box, feels this should be the proper amount for the bees to successfully overwinter. Approximately 60 pounds of honey.
This weekend I did my final work in the hives to prepare for winter. Each hive now has 1 shallow super filled with honey. Any drawn comb or partially capped honey will be safely stored. I got my first look at wax moth damage last week and I don't want to risk that. It was not pretty. When I lift my hives, they are heavy and I, too feel they have adequate honey for the winter.
I also did sticky board mite counts last week. The results were encouraging. Ora had very few mites. I had to look hard to find any. This was a nuc hive I started in the spring and I didn't really expect to find much there. Walter is my second year hive and had considerably more mites, but not enough to be alarming. It's close to impossible to get a good count because of all the other junk that falls out of a hive. It didn't really matter in either hive how many mites I saw, they both got the powdered sugar shake.
In talking to Kelley last week about the mite count she passed along some information that made my think about mite counts in a new light. Although I saw more mites in Walter, she said that might not be a bad thing. It's very possible that those bees are just more hygienic, cleaning more, thus ridding themselves of more mites. That would be a very good trait to have in a hive. I'll continue to compare the hives in the spring. I'm also going to use 1 frame of drone comb in each hive in the spring.
Goldenrod is blooming everywhere. Lots of bees, bumble and honey, and butterflies.
Wild, blue asters blooming in the park and all along the roads. My backyard is full of asters and bees.
As I was working in the hives on Sunday morning, my husband came up and remarked that I had observation hives - I work, he observes. Ha ha. He doesn't love the bees and garden like I do, but he does all the heavy work for me. He's also gotten quite good at constructing hive boxes, stands, etc. Will save us lot of money if and when I add more bees. He took this very unflattering picture of me, but that's how I work in the hives. Hat and veil, long sleeve white shirt, most of the time shorts, but this cool morning, baggy sweatpants. I forgot to put on my gloves and ended up with a sting on the hand. Mostly just aggravating because it cost a bee her life. In the right of the picture is the screen mesh frame I placed over the bees when I shook the sugar in. I got this idea from a fellow blogger, Steven, and it worked great! Kept the bees from flying out in my face. They don't much care for the sugar bath.
I didn't disturb the brood box on either hive. It's very late in the season. The drones have been gone for several weeks now and I didn't want to risk injury to my queens. There would be zero chance of the bees raising a successful new queen now since there would be no drones to mate with. Both hives are still humming with activity. It's the contented hum of successful bees. As fall turns to winter, the weather will occasionally warm to mid-50's and I'll take quick peeps under the inner cover to check honey stores. On cold, cold winter days, a thump to the side of the box will hopefully bring the reassuring buzzz from the inside that all is well.