Experience is a brutal teacher. But you learn, my God, do you learn.

-C.S. Lewis

Stream In January

Stream In January

Sunday, October 25, 2009

October Bees

On Friday, we had torrential rain and very high wind, but by Saturday morning the bad weather had blown itself out and by midday I was able to open the hives and do some fall maintenance work. I use a grease patty in the fall and winter as a soft treament for tracheal mites. I'll quote Ross Conrad - "Because of A. woodi's microscopic size, the oils from a grease patty, when lightly covering the bodies of the bees, inhibit the movement of the mite from bee to bee, which out of necessity must occur outside of the honey bee's breathing tube. As a result, the grease patties work to help prevent the spread of mites from infected bees and limit the damage they may cause within the colony." The recipe is simply 2 parts Crisco to 1 part sugar. I also mix in some essential oil and shape into patties. These freeze well. I had some honey that I squirted on top to make it more attractive to the bees.
I also reverse the inner cover for the fall and winter. Flat side is now facing up. This creates an airspace above the bars in the small super. Last winter I didn't use any insulation on or in the hive and although we had a very cold winter, I saw no problem with bees dying from cold. Walter was a very small colony going into winter last year, but the bees obviously did a good job maintaining a warm hive. It turned into a large, productive hive this summer.
What Walter did last winter was build propolis and looks like this year is not going to be any different. This is what they've done in the past couple of weeks to the opening in the inner cover and also on the top bars of the super. Propolis has great therapeutic value for a hive, but I don't want the opening to be completely covered because of ventilation issues. However, having said that, I still think the bees know what's best and maybe I should leave well enough alone. The photo above is from Ora and there is no sign of propolis there.

I had some powdered sugar in my bee bag and since I had the hives open, I took the opportunity to give Walter another good treatment. This is the hive that showed the most mites earlier. They don't like it! Walter is, by far, the harder of the 2 hives to work and I suspect it is because I robbed the honey from that hive. There is sugar on the front of the hive and because I didn't want to have a problem with robbing yellowjackets, I....

....added the entrance reducer. Not being used to it, they really didn't care for that little addition at all! It took all afternoon for the bees to settle down. I used an entrance reducer for a short period of time last winter when the temperatures were the coldest. We had about a week of 0 degree temps in the mornings.

Both hives looked good with a healthy amount of bees. Ora is quite heavy with honey stores but I'm a bit concerned about Walter. Lot of the honey in that hive has been used probably because it is my second year hive and much bigger. I'll keep very close watch on this one and already feel I may have to feed. I have a couple of frames of dark, capped honey that I can add and see how far that will go.


Barbara's Spot on the Blog said...

Your hives sound like they are thriving. Have you found the sugar shake is sufficient to deal with the mites? Pesky critters aren't they?

Lynn said...

Hi Barbara. Good to hear from you. I'm committed to organic beekeeping and gardening and so far the sugar shake has been sufficient. That's the only treatment my hives have received and although I do have mites in both, the levels are tolerable and the hives are thriving. I'm convinced that the bees have to live with some mites to develop a resistance. I also know I might go out tomorrow and both colonies could be gone but that's a chance I'm willing to take.

Glad to see your hives settled in the new location. I think it's going to be a great place for you. Hope they do well over the winter. I know we both have a long, cold one to look forward to.

Paul said...

Stay warm up there this winter

Barbara's Spot on the Blog said...

Lynn, good for you for choosing organic. You're very brave.

PhilipH said...

I second Paul's comment and wish you and your ladies a good and well deserved rest.

Keep warm together and they'll have a nice spring to look forward to.

Anonymous said...

Hola, Lynn! Hope all is well up them-thar-hills! Things look great in the hive and I like the grease patty idea. You and I think along the same lines of organic beekeeping and I want to keep at natural. I think I'm going into my hive this weekend to see whats happening since we're finally out of this monsoon season that the Tarheel state has been in.