Thursday, March 3, 2016

Last Inspection before winter--October 2015

The hives are pictured above as they were before I started my final inspection of the year in mid-October.

The left hand hive is a split I made back in June.  It is not sitting up on a stump like the others so it looks a little short.  Before the snow flies, I will set it up higher.  The queen cells that I put in with nurse bees and brood, failed to hatch or just died, or who knows?  No queen present.  I drove to BetterBee and bought a nice northern raised queen.  She has had all summer to build her brood into a nice full hive.  The yellow super is full of late honey.  I did not remove it because I had treated for mites.  This will be their winter food.

The center colony is my colony that has wintered over the last two winters.  It was a fabulous production hive this summer.  I took off about 70 pounds of honey from this one.  And I should have taken more, but I stopped too early.  Note for next year:  Don't put in the mite strips until after the really great nectar flow.  As a result, I do not have any very dark red bamboo honey this year. The fall nectar run was the best ever.  But I had put in the mite strips making the honey unusable to all but the bees.  They became quite honey bound in early September.  I was forced to take out some of those full frames of late honey and store them.  I checker boarded some drawn and new frames in both boxes and gave them room to raise more brood.
The final inspection showed that the brood in the bottom box had all hatched and it was all but empty in spots, so I rearranged some and put some of the honey back in for the winter.
The queen in this hive went missing in August sometime.  I re-queened with a queen from Warm Colors Apiary.  This queen was raised here in the Pioneer Valley.

The right hand hive--the red boxes--is my spring package from Georgia.  They also thrived and did so well that I was able to harvest some honey from this hive also.

So all the queens are new this year.  They all have blue dots.  But each was raised in a different environment.; one from near the Canadian border, one quite local in western Massachusetts, and one from Georgia.  All of them have been quite easy to handle.  (Glad to be rid of last year's kind of testy group of bees, who were also the messiest builders of burr comb ever!)

This is a nice late frame of brood.  I like how much brood there is and the honey surrounding it.  I am not seeing a lot of stored pollen on the frames.   I will need to feed pollen patties in the spring for sure.  I saw open and capped brood in all three hives but never saw a queen.  I would say that is because of how crammed with bees they all are.

I am using a mix of Pierco frames which I paint with extra beeswax, and wooden frames with wax foundation.  There are also some new wooden frames with plastic foundation that I won at a raffle.
It doesn't seem to me like the bees care much.   I enjoyed harvesting the honey off the Piercos because they are so sturdy.
A big bear was around a bit in the spring, but seems to have moved on.  No trouble with him and the hives.  The electric fence is always on.   (Wish I could say the same for our ever increasing fox problems.)

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