Tuesday, October 21, 2014

October Hive Inspection

As I mentioned in the September report, both of my colonies were full of bees, but zero honey.

The weather has been warm enough that the bees have had plenty of time to pack on some honey to fill their empty frames. In addition, I fed some 2:1 sugar water to help them out. 

Mouse Guards:
Last weekend, we put mouse guards on the entrances because our mice are sneaky and love the warmth and ready food available in winter hives.  The guards are just 1/2 inch hardware cloth, cut in a long strip, bent and stapled to the bottom board and box in a couple of places.   I've read that mice won't go in a hive with just the smallest entrance open like you see above, but I have personally seen mice in my hives with nothing but the small entrance, so I opted for extra guards this year.

The bees don't seem to mind, too much, but you can tell it gets in their way.   As soon as things get busy in the spring, I'll be popping them off.

The first thing I did in this inspection was to take off the feeders and extra empty shim boxes and then lift the hive [more of a tilt, actually] to see how heavy they were.   The goal is about 100 lbs in 2 boxes.  Since I only have one box per hive, I figured a good goal was 50 lbs.   The left hive was about that heavy but the right one was still very light.

Right Hive:
I opened this hive first.  As I suspected, there was almost zero honey, though I did see some nectar being worked over.   There were a few yellow jackets in there, which I killed.  I saw some dead bees on the bottom of the hive and a bunch on the ground in front of this hive.   I pulled the bottom board and saw that this hive had had some dysentery.  They had had dysentery earlier because one of their feeders of sugar water fermented.  As soon as I got them clean feed last time, the dysentery cleared right up. This time the dysentery wasn't as bad,  but I think it's enough to weaken the hive.  The colony numbers were down - there was just over half a deep box full of bees. I am concerned that this hive won't make it through the winter.  

I put a 4 lb bag of sugar on top of the frames, Mountain Camp style, put a 3 inch shim over that and battened down the hatches.  

Left Hive:
This hive had a few frames of honey and the box was full of bees.  It seems healthy.   It's got a shy queen - I looked over every frame but didn't see her.  They're still pulling in and storing a lot of pollen.   I really hope this hive makes it through the winter, because my feeling is that this queen is a keeper.   If they boom next year, I'd like to make a split.   These genetics seem good.

I put a 4 lb bag of sugar on these guys, too and sealed them up.

There were a lot of yellow jackets around the area and a few in each hive.  I'll put out more traps and see if I can't help get them under control.

I'll be scooting the hives together and putting insulation around them next month.   In addition, I'll be putting bales of straw on end around 3 sides as a wind break.   They're also on gravel which should hold some heat during our frequent warm spells.

Here's hoping they both make it through this winter.


  1. Crossing my fingers for you that both hives will be fine for the winter! Dang yellow-jackets and mice.

  2. Here's wishing you well in overwintering, and hives with exploding populations come springtime that are begging to make you surplus honey!

  3. Good luck to you Robin! Isn't winter a long time to sit and worry if your bees are alive or not? Sheesh!


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