Monday, September 22, 2014

Fall Hive Inspection

Here are the hives all happy in their new site.   The bees took the move in stride and are busy as ever.   We did a full fall inspection early in the month and discovered some interesting things.

The 24 hour mite board check turned up 3 mites from each hive.   Also, some dysentery in the Hello Sweetie hive [probably from some fermented sugar water.]  The mite load is small enough that I don't have to treat this year. 

Both hives had tons of brood - the bottom brood box was pretty much packed full of brood. 

But no honey. 

Both hives had just barely started building any comb in the top box.   Each one had only a partial frame and no honey in it. 

No. Honey.   In Sep-freaking-tember.

I've been feeding all summer, the way they tell you to the first year of a hive.   And this is the most brood I've ever had, so that's great - but no honey is not great.   What do they think they're going to eat all winter?? 

I got on the forum and one of the more experienced beeks took some time to answer my questions and make suggestions.   He noted that I may have a 'benign predator problem' with wasps and hornets and maybe some birds.   'Benign' as in not a bear or teenage boy knocking the hives over and destroying everything, but rather something stealthy making regular small raids and keeping the bees busy doing the wrong stuff.

Which would totally explain why I've never had much brood until this year.   This whole year I kept only one small entrance open at the landing board because late summer robbing is an obvious problem here.  I turned the top entrance up [the one you see opens into the top box which holds the feeder, which the bees use through a screen, so predators can get into the top box, but can't get into the brood boxes.]   I have screened bottom boards for summer ventilation.     The one small entrance is all they have.   Both hives are trying to enlarge it.  We'll put a hardware cloth mouse guard over it soon for the winter.

Since we have a lot of birds, too, I put up some poles with those heavy tinfoil disposable cupcake tins tied to them.  [See pic in previous post.]  They make some noise and the reflection is supposed to scare birds away.  They've helped in the garden, so I put two near the bees, just in case.

The goldenrod flow is still on and a good hive can draw a whole super in a week, so I'm letting them try and feeding them heavy syrup [Michael Bush's 5:3] in hopes that they'll get busy and store some.  It should be warm enough for the next couple of weeks.  If they don't, I'll pull the top box and put on mega candy boards for the winter and keep a close eye on them.   We'll push them together, insulate and wrap the sides up tight with black geo textile for the winter and wrap the bottoms [with slider boards in] to reduce draft.

I'm hoping that the new location will deter the predators and help get them through the winter.    If so, then maybe next year I'll have big hives and a decent honey harvest.  These queens are Indiana queens, so I'm hopeful.  It'll be my fourth year.   I'm ready for big honey.

If the hives don't make it this winter, I'm going to try one more time, with Russian bees that I can get from Kelley Bee Supply in Kentucky.   I hear they're good stock for surviving Indiana winters.   


  1. Good luck this winter Robin! One of my goals this year was to split one or more of my hives and add some new genetics. Sadly, that goal did not come to pass.

    I've been looking into Carniolians but I'm no expert. I have heard good things about the Russian winter survivability too.

  2. This has been a weird year for me as well. Typically we get a spring and fall harvest, but this year, my overwintered hives made NO spring honey, and my fall harvest was significantly smaller than normal.


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