Isn't this just HOW BEEKEEPING GOES? the strong hive doesn't make it - the weak hives does....
The MOTHER HIVE - which i'm SO HAPPY i took splits from early this year....is "dead". I put the clearing boards into the hives this weekend and did a little inspection (the clearing boards are the "bee mazes" that clear the supers of bees - readying them for harvest)
When I lifted the 3 supers off the mother hive (yes - they were at one time strong enough to make honey!)....I knew there was a problem...because I could SEE DOWN to the bottom board - through both the deeps.....very few bees.
So I immediately went to the HEART of the hive - the frames that SHOULD have brood activity on them....in both deeps - nothing but STORAGE ON ALL FRAMES - no brood anywhere. This hive has been queenless for SOME TIME.
I took the two deeps - full of FOOD...and a handful of bees....and SPLIT THEM between two other hives. In other words - I COMBINED using the newpaper method. These two other hives were splits from this hive earlier in the year...and they'll now overwinter as 3 DEEPS. Since the deeps from mother hive were full of honey/pollen....they'll have a head start on extra stored food for winter.
I really like overwintering as 3 deeps....it makes for an "easier split" come early spring....you'll have all kinds of extra drawn frames and food to FRANKEN SPLIT them :) By franken split - I'm referring to making splits or 10 frame "nucs" by grabbing frames/eggs from THIS hive and THAT hive to force them to make new queens....
I've also gone to 9 FRAMES in all my boxes.....I REALLY like that too! It makes inspection SO MUCH EASIER. There's WAY LESS BEE CRUSHING.
I'm harvesting next weekend. REALLY early for me! why? with how EARLY the season came - I'm afraid it might end early as well. The swallows have been packing up for 3 weeks now, geese are on the move...it's EARLY. With the draught - I want to get the honey off....WHILE THEY HAVE SOME RESOURCES LEFT.
There are other "wives tale" signs out there that we're in for a "BAD" winter....(by bad - does that mean snow or cold?)....the ASH TREES ARE LOADED with berries...and the bees have REALLY STUCK THE HIVES TOGETHER WITH PROPOLIS...is it a sign?