August Musings

It’s been a hot, dry summer for the bees, but that hasn’t stopped them from making a good crop of honey.  Normally, first year packages spend their time building comb and enough honey to get them through the winter and a honey harvest is not in the cards.  But mine got a head start this year since they each had some pre-built comb, so they could spend less effort on building comb and more on making honey (a win-win in my eyes).

More Honey

Since all but one of my hives has excess honey, I did some more harvesting – this time from BnB3, Sarah’s hive and the Left Hand Lang.  I took one bar from BnB3 because it was held together with hair clips after it broke off early on.  I replaced it with an empty comb I had laying around and hope they can fill it with honey before the winter.

Comb from BnB3 held together with hair clips

Comb from BnB3 held together with hair clips

Sarah’s hive had lots of cross comb that I wanted to clean up.  She isn’t as keen on harvesting honey as I am and wanted to leave it for the bees. But I convinced her that they had an excess, so we took out the 3 bars that were cross combed and an extra bar for some comb honey.  They still had plenty left and room to expand.

Nicely capped honey - Sarah's hive

Nicely capped honey – Sarah’s hive

Sarah tried her hand at inspecting the combs this time.

Looking for the queen

Sarah looking for the queen

The Left Hand Lang is pretty full and they had built out one of the foundationless frames with just honey, so I decided I’d harvest that frame.  The place where I have the hive was having a new driveway poured and one of the workers came by as I was closing up.  He said where he was from in Mexico, the bees had open combs in the trees and that he was always getting stung.  I let him dip his finger into a tear in the comb I harvested for a sweet reward – no stings here!

Foundationless frame ready for harvest

Foundationless frame ready for harvest

Inspections

Fall is just around the corner, so I started doing my final full inspections of the hives to make sure they are all ready for the coming winter.  I peeked in BnB2 and found they had already made some new comb on my wobbly wedge bar.  So, I guess Julie was right – it wasn’t as bad as I made it out to be.  BnB1 has lots of honey and the queen seems to laying well, so I shouldn’t have to go in again.

New comb on the wedge bar - maybe it's not so bad

New comb on the wedge bar – maybe it’s not so bad

We had a cool day earlier this week, so I took the opportunity to do a full inspection of BnB1.   I started off in my long sleeved shirt and veil, but they were pretty agitated and kept trying to get in my veil.  After a glancing sting to the neck, I decided to put on my bee jacket for more protection.  That wasn’t enough of a deterrent – one of them stung me on the back through the suit!  I think they were pissy because the last time, I stole some of their honey.  As I was going through the hive, I looked down on the front of my jacket and saw some bees clustered there.  Then I saw that one of them was the queen!  Yikes!  I tried to brush her back into the hive, but she landed on the top bars and my attempts to herd her into the hole weren’t going well.  She was headed for the edge and onto the ground when I finally was able to get her into the hive.  But for a few moments there, I was freaking out!  She’s been laying well as there was lots of capped and uncapped brood.   So, I think this hive is all set for Fall.

The only hive that isn’t doing well is Laura’s hive that was the swarm I caught in May.  The last time I looked in, I saw some mites at the back of the hive and was thinking I’d have to do something like cage the queen for brood break.  But, the bees were smarter than me and apparently, they were already raising a new queen.  When I looked in this time, there was no brood, no queen, but some opened queen cells and supercedure cells.

Opened queen cells in Laura's hive

Opened queen cells in Laura’s hive

But there was no sign of a virgin queen.  I was hoping she was out for a mating flight, but I checked again 8 days later and there was still no sign of a queen, eggs or larva.  There were still a lot of bees in the hive though so I thought buying a mated queen was the way to go.  But none of my local suppliers have queens and I’m going out of town and it’s too late to get one shipped, so I think I’m going to have to combine this hive with one of my others.  I’m reluctant since this hive had mites but I have to do something with them this weekend.

I still need to do a full inspection of Duncan’s hive.  The bees were just too agitated to do it when we harvested the honey.  Maybe I can get that done this weekend, but if not, it’ll have to wait until I get back.

Transitions

My youngest son leaves for his first year of college next week.  He, his brother and I hiked a 14er last weekend to celebrate this passage.  It was quite emotional for me on two fronts – I just beat cancer and now my boy is heading off.  He’s ready and I think I’m ready (Diana, maybe not). Just like the bees, we’ve given him a place to call home and tended him with loving care.  All we can do now sit back and let nature take it’s course.

My boys and me on top of Mt. Sherman - 14,036'

My boys and me on top of Mt. Sherman – 14,036′

 

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4 Responses to August Musings

  1. Paula says:

    Your last paragraph was so beautiful. And touching. My youngest is going off to college next year too, so I know the ambivalent feelings. Good luck to your entire family in the coming year.

    • Don says:

      Best of luck to you and your family, too, Paula. I’ve been trying to think about how it was when we left high school oh those many years ago. One thing kids have going for them today is that they are much more connected electronically with their friends so I think that helps ease the transition. We had pay phones. 😉

  2. Julie says:

    Lucky catch seeing that queen on your jacket. Whoa! And those wedged bars look even better with comb and bees on them! Nice job!

    It must be bittersweet seeing your kids go off to school. I’m sure you’ll miss them, but it must be nice knowing that you did such a great job with your boys. Good luck to your guys this fall!

    • Don says:

      There were a lot of swear words coming out of my mouth when I saw that queen! The funny thing is that she looked smaller than usual, so I checked for signs she was a new queen, but I think I was just looking the wrong focus on my bifocals. No queen cells and there was lots of great brood.

      Thanks for the well wishes!

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