Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Bee Year Wrap Up

This was my last marked queen in September.  Where she went? Who knows?  Last I looked there was an unmarked queen.  I was marking them pink this year.  
It has been a challenging bee year.   Last year, my first year as a beekeeper, I would describe the bees as "Gypsy Bees."  They wanted to travel and swarm.  And so they did, thus weakening the hive and not making it through last winter.
This year I would call my bees "Queen Killers."   Unhappy royal subjects who would do away with a queen without blinking any of their eyes.  Since August's last post they did away with more queens.  As late as September, I was finding that my marked queen was missing, and in her place a new, unmarked queen.  I had a marked queen when I treated for mites in September.  The hive looked strong, with lots of bees and brood--but very light on honey. I do not believe there was a late swarm.  I harvested nothing, removing the empty super.  10 days later, I checked the Mite Away application.   The weather had been the perfect temps for the treatment to be effective.  Mites dead in the tray.  But not too many.  Perfect. Pat myself on the back. Pat. Pat. Mites have been kept in check by the constant disruption in brood producing by the queen-killers.  But now, there was no n
ew eggs, larvae, or brood cells anywhere.   Tons of bees had hatched, but they had nothing to do--two stings for me, angry little bored bees.  And there she was, an unmarked queen, not yet laying.  In September.
Close up the boxes and let them sort this out. I give up.
But I can't just give up.  So I am prepping them for winter survival as best I can.  I am still feeding sugar syrup with HoneyBHealthy.   I have treated for Nosema.  I am planning a move for the hive to a much more protected location next week.  I may need to take off the upper hive body and leave them with just one to keep warm.   When I move them I will need to decide.  I need to see where they have all their honey and pollen. I will prepare some fondant to feed when it becomes too cold for them to take the syrup.  That will be soon.
My goal this summer was to divide and start keeping two hives.  I had to join the old hive back into my divide in about July because they were queenless and had no eggs to make a new queen.  So I have just the one hive.   Next year:  two hives-or three, and harvest some honey.
I am looking forward to the Massbee.org state meeting this month.  And I would like to get all the Northfield beekeepers together to see how their year has gone.  Things to do . . . .
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