For several weeks I have been placing bottles of mixed sugar syrup outside my side door. Up until today these bottles have not attrached the attention of raccoons, hornets or bees. Today the bees found this source of "nectar". Before placing the jugs outside I rinse them with water to ensure they are not sticky. These jugs are more than 1/4 mile from my hives.
Wednesday, September 18, 2019
Monday, September 16, 2019
The monthly ECWBA club meeting will be held this Saturday, September 21st at the Caestecker Public Library in Green Lake. 9:30AM is the scheduled start time. However, you can arrive early and join others in exchanging ideas.
Its now mid-September. It’s easy to see the days are getting shorter and nights are cooling down. The amount of forage, both nectar and pollen, is rapidly declining. The bees will soon be living on their stored honey. The hive has also greatly cut back on brood rearing.
In the last week of August, I removed most of the honey from my hives. I did leave a few supers in place if they had full, but uncapped, cells in the hopes the bees will complete their work and dry and cap the honey cells. These remaining honey supers will be removed the 3rd week of September.
During the first week of September a number of local beekeepers banded together for an extraction party. In total we extracted honey to fill 34 5 gallon buckets. We compared notes and a number of us reported that this year was our best ever as far as the honey harvest, while several others said it was their worst. Go figure. We are all located within 5 miles of each other. Also, a few reported that many packages did not build properly and store a surplus. Overwintered hives had a definite advantage.
This past week I did my second fall mite treatment. The first, using formic acid pads, was done in late July. This past week I did a one-time oxalic acid vapor treatment. The oxalic acid treatment will be repeated in mid-October and early November. By early October I am hoping even the Italian queens will have stopped brood rearing. Thus making the final oxalic acid vapor treatment 100% effective and putting the hives in excellent shape for surviving winter.
As part of my goal to be a sustainable beekeeper (ie not having to buy package bees every spring) I made up a large number of 5 over 5 double winter nucs. Last year I had excellent (greater than 90%) survival of winter nucs. If the same occurs this winter I will have strong spring nucs to replace any hive losses. In late August and September, I have been feeding these winter nucs in order that the upper box will have at least 25 pounds of honey/sugar syrup. NOTE: I will be writing another article about winter nucs later this winter.
My observation from this past summer was that hives, begun with winter nucs, outperformed both overwintered hives and new packages. There could be several reasons for this outcome. During the late winter population build-up, the winter nucs have less cold air volume which could help with brood rearing. The winter nucs all had young queens, while the overwintered hive queens were in their 2nd or 3rd winter. The vigor of a 1st year queen cannot be ignored. Finally, the hives started with winter nucs seemed to not swarm while many overwintered hives swarmed. Hives that swarmed usually had 0 or 1 super of honey. Overwintered hives yielded 2 to 3 supers of honey. Hives started from winter nucs yielded 2 to 4 supers. This last observation may be a fluke. I will continue to track the performance of winter nucs hives in the future.
My queen rearing and mating efforts ended in late August. I am in the process of combining the mating nucs with other hives or winter nucs.
Several non-performing (ie no honey for the summer) hives had their queens replaced.
What’s ahead for the remainder of September and October?
-If not done already I will be downsizing the entrance reducer to the 4 inch opening.
-Next week I will be removing the remaining honey supers.
-Next I will evaluate each hive. Does it need feeding? Is it queenright? Hives with little honey stores will be fed. Hives not queen right will be combined with other stronger hives.
-The wax and propolis buildup on queen excluders will be removed prior to storage. Do NOT leave a queen excluder in the hive. It may trap the queen below the excluder when the cluster has moved above it.
-Any unused equipment will be inspected, repaired and painted prior to storage so that it will be ready for use next spring.
-Mouse guards and hive wrap will not be installed until early November.
Sunday, August 25, 2019
August is winding down. If you haven’t completed your mite treatments, you are putting your hives in danger for fall or winter failure. Git er done! This can’t be stressed enough!
I completed my mite treatments with formic acid pads the last week of July. However, I will be following up with oxalic acid vapor treatments in mid-September, mid-October and early November. Overkill? Maybe, but this process netted me 88% survival last winter.
I just completed removal of the honey supers; well most of them. Because this August was wetter and cooler than normal, I am finding uncapped honey in the top super. These top supers I am leaving in place and will be doing a second round of honey super removal in the second half of September. Even though its late in August there seems to be a honey flow occurring; maybe a rarely occurring goldenrod flow. Hopefully by the end of September the honey will be capped. If not, I will use the honey for making mead before the honey begins uncontrolled fermenting and turns into honey vinegar.
With the honey supers removed you will need to assess each hive on its ability to make it through winter. First, verify the hive is queenright. If not, either requeen the hive or combine the hive with another weak hive. If it is queenright, is the population strong enough to make it through winter? To evaluate the hive partially lift, by tilting the upper brood chamber from the lower brood chamber. Look in the gap. The bees should be between the frame gaps of at least seven (7) of the ten (10) frames on both the lower and upper brood boxes. At this time, also evaluate the weight of the upper brood chamber. The upper brood chamber should weigh approximately 80 to 90 pounds and be almost entirely honey. If underweight now is the time to feed the hive 2 to 1 sugar syrup or as an alternate high fructose corn syrup. Feeding will initiate additional brood rearing and may increase the population to an acceptable level. Or if you have a strong hive you could steal a frame of capped brood and move it to the weak hive. See the Nature’s Nectar blog (naturesnectar.blogspot.com/) for more on feeding
A hint on evaluating the weight of the upper brood chambers. First pull the frames and verify they are honey packed; except for maybe the center 1 or 2 frames. Each filled frame weighs roughly 10 pounds. Replace the frames. Now lift the brood chamber. Remember the feeling of the full box. Lower the box back into place. Now as an alternate, just tilt the upper brood chamber. You only need to lift on the front or side of the box. You will be only lifting half of the box weight. Remember this feeling. From then on you can evaluate the boxes by this method. It’s a lot easier on your back!
Those of you utilizing 8 frame boxes or medium boxes will need to make your own guidelines. But you will still need roughly 80-90 pounds of honey for the hive to s.fely make it through a Wisconsin winter. Our ECWBA President targets for a full upper brood chamber and one full medium honey super.
If needed, feed your hives now while the weather is still warm. First, the bees will not drink cold syrup. Second, it takes time for the bees to evaporate the water out of the syrup and raise its sugar concentration to 80% as in honey. Third, with cooler weather the bees will go into cluster at night and will not be moving the syrup from the feeder to the comb thus greatly slowing the process. September is the time for feeding. October temperatures may be too low.
After the honey harvest I install an entrance reducer. If there are no yellow jacket hornets present, I utilize the four inch wide opening. If hornets are present, I use the one inch wide opening. We may still get hot days in September. You may need to increase the one inch opening to four inches in order to allow the bees to cool the hive.
Winter is still a long way off. DO NOT place hive wraps or BeeCozy’s on the hive yet.
Thursday, August 22, 2019
The honey harvesting season is drawing to a close. One of the associated tasks is to clean the beeswax and propolis off the queen excluders. The following method works with steel excluders. DO NOT TRY THIS WITH PLASTIC EXCLUDERS.
Beeswax melts at the relatively low temperature of 140F. By using a propane torch the beeswax rapidly melts without causing harm to the steel excluder. I was able to clean up 4 excluders in about 5 minutes.
Typical beeswax coated queen excluder.
Same excluder after cleaning.
Plastic excluders can be cleaned in the dead of winter. The beeswax gets brittle at cold temperature, but the plastic remains flexible. Simply set the excluders outdoors overnight. In the morning flex the excluder and the brittle wax should flake right off.
Wednesday, August 14, 2019
There will be a club meeting at the Rushford Meadery this Saturday, August 17th, at 9:30AM. There will be a short discussion period and then we will extract the frames of honey from the two club hives. If you want to extract your honey afterwards please contact Pam to get your needs on the schedule.
Thursday, August 8, 2019
With the season winding down it time to consider a little equipment maintenance. Here is a recommendation on how to clean goatskin gloves.