I had hernia surgery on Monday, so while I have some time recuperating (and I’m not high on Vitamin V(icodin)), I thought I would write up a summary of the status of my hives. BnB1 succumbed to mites a few weeks ago which leaves me with three hives – BnB2, Hello Kitty and Sarah’s hive.
For a colony that I thought wouldn’t make it through the winter, this one has been rocking all year. She’s produced 2 1/2 gallons of honey, several frames for the Hello Kitty split and extra honey stores. The hive has been crammed with bees all year, the queen has been very productive and there have been very few mites on my few checks. I occasionally see some little beetles in there, but I’m not sure if they are small hive beetles or just some local bugs. In any case, there is no infestation of those or wax moths, but it’s something to keep an eye on. On Sunday, Duncan and I took a couple more combs of honey for the Hello Kitty hive and while we were in there, we found the queen who looked just fine. BnB2 has about 18 bars fully drawn out and a couple of small combs with some nectar. I put in a follower board to block off the back part of the hive for winter. I also put the entrance reducer on after BnB1 died to reduce the chances of robbing. It’s at the maximum width (4″) now and I’ll flip it over to just the small entrance when the weather turns cold and the bee numbers drop off for winter.
If BnB2 makes it through the winter, I’ll want to make a split in the spring to repopulate BnB1 and propogate this queen’s genetics!
Hello Kitty got a late start with some combs from BnB2 and a new queen. They missed the early summer honey flow, but still managed to build up quite a few bees later in the summer. Since the bees didn’t get to foraging until later, I’ve been supplementing this hive with honey and pollen from BnB2. This is quite messy since the shapes of the hives are different so I have to cut the honey comb from BnB2 to fit in Hello Kitty. I think it now has enough stores for the winter and there are still a couple of combs that were full of nectar which they can still turn to honey. We rearranged some of the combs (per the Les Crowder/Heather Farrell book instructions) and moved the follower board towards the front. We’ll do one more check just to put a cork in the follower board when the weather cools down some more.
Sarah’s bees have also been doing really well this year and have built out about 18 combs. Since this is the first year for the hive, we decided to leave them all the honey and stores they have for the winter. On Sunday, we did our last inspection of the year. There are plenty of bees and the queen is winding down on laying, getting ready for winter. We closed off one of the 3 entrance holes and will close off another once it gets colder. Since the hive is in a pretty exposed area, Sarah is putting some hay bales around the back side for wind protection. We’ll also need to stake the hive to the ground and bungy the lid on. The strong (70+ mph) chinook winds we get here in the winter can easily tip over a hive.
All three hives seem to be doing well and I have high hopes for them going into the winter. Only time will tell whether they’ll make it or not!