We’ve been experiencing a dry, warm Autumn in Colorado. Although we had our first hard freeze the other day, temperatures have been in the mid 80’s the past couple of days. The bees are still out collecting pollen from the few remaining cosmos and asters, but their foraging resources are rapidly diminishing. The boys (drones) have all been kicked out of the hive and the population of girls (workers) is dwindling as the queen slows her laying. They may have to start dipping into their honey stores more than normally for this time of year if they keep flying in the warm weather.
I’m not complaining about the weather. I’ve got arugula and spinach coming up in the garden and we’ve been treated to many bluebird days. There have been dustings of snow on the mountains which add to the beauty of these days.
Out of my 7 hives, 5 of them seem to be doing well at last check, despite signs of mites in some of them. I’m experimenting to see which ones can deal with the mite loads – if any. If I can get at least a couple through the winter, then I’ll split and requeen the survivors in the spring. So far, watching the hive entrances, these 5 seem to be doing well. I reduced the entrances down to keep robbers at bay.
A couple of weeks ago, I checked on Sarah’s hive which had been a real producer of honey and bees this summer. The last time I checked, 3 weeks before that, all seemed good. When I walked up to the hive, I noticed that there were very few bees at the entrance – not a good sign. And, opening it up, I found that they had been devastated by mites. There was very little brood and there was lots of uncapped, old larvae – classic signs of PMS (that’s parasitic mite syndrome in beekeeping lingo).
I found the queen and she was laying new eggs, but I didn’t think they have a chance. I reduced the hive down to just a few frames in hopes they could rebound, but I wasn’t hopeful.
This weekend, I checked on the hive again. There were no bees guarding the entrance and when I looked through the window I only saw a couple of bees and a yellowjacket. This hive was toast. I’ll detail this in another post.
I also checked in on the Left Hand Hive this weekend. Last time I checked, it was brimming with bees. I even did a mite roll and there were very few mites so I was optimistic that this hive would survive. Here’s what it looked like then.
However, yesterday, there were very few bees flying in and out which was not a good sign. I opened up the top cover and there were a few bees, but not as many as a few weeks ago. I’m debating whether I should go through the hive and perhaps condense it down to one deep, or just let it bee. They had the top cover glued to the inner cover and at this time of year, I’m reluctant to break all the propolis seals that they made. But, we’re still having endless summer weather so perhaps they can still get things sealed back up. And winter will be here before we know it.