Thursday, August 22, 2013
I REALLY TAKE A GOOD LOOK after harvest - "evaluating" hives for winter. Check mite loads! My mite loads all spring and summer were very "light" (I use the sticky board/screened bottom board) Though I don't actually take a COUNT - I look at the sticky boards comparatively. AFTER HARVEST...I checked my mite load.....HEAVY!!!!! did I say HEAVY!!!??? wow - I've not seen a load like this before in the hives. For the FIRST TIME EVER - I've applied API-GUARD (the thymol tray)
After they settle down from harvest - I need to get back in there and make sure each deep has a SHALLOW frame for the drone cut-out (which I also did this year) - but the hives weren't real consistent as to where and when I had a "short" in the box. I also need to LABEL THEM (mark them) I'm happy with the drone cutout method.
WHOOFDA...are there BEES!!! The populations of the hives are PHENOMENAL. I requeened 5 hives in July (bred and tested queens)...that probably helped. Even though the nights have been chilly at times...the hives are ready for another population boom (capped brood). Probably their last big batch before they start decreasing.
I'm going to be overwintering as 2 deeps and a super this year. I've overwintered them with 3 deeps in the past - but then in the spring - I end up with too many honey frames. I prefer giving them a little extra space after harvest to fill (the super)....it means less feeding for me come spring. I often found that come spring - in a two deep system - the bees were AT THE INNER cover when I took my first peeks. I bought a whole set of "separate" supers for this purpose - they'll be marked as HIVE SUPERS - they won't be used for harvest-able honey.
so - What have I heard out there? I've been hearing "LAZY CARNIES". More than a couple beekeepers got a package of Italians and a package of Carnies for comparison. The Italians are "going to town" - producing honey for first year hives....and the Carnies....lazy, going nowhere. ...we could all be deceived by the lazy carnies - they tend to overwinter as smaller populations - and require less resources over winter. This is "farming" - of course we'll cross our fingers, hoping all the hives make it through - but you might be surprised by the outcomes. (don't make any bets on bees!)
I've also heard it's "SWARM YEAR". I think we've had enough rain at the right time to keep nectar in the flowers and keep resources spread out. Divide and Go Forth - Resources are Abundant. (unfortunately - its the loss of NATURAL BEE HABITAT (old trees/holes) for the swarm to settle into....means their destination is a house, barn, GROCERY STORE.....mailbox....
I've also heard "POOR PACKAGE QUEENS". As probably everyone heard or experienced - packages were late again this year - and in short supply. Many complained that packages were "duds". A dud package = dud queen (perhaps a poorly bred queen). IT'S ALL ABOUT THE QUEEN. This is a frustrating topic for a first year beekeeper who just wants to get a hive started - and has NOTHING to compare to. ....we might have to look more into getting BRED and TESTED queens into our hives via requeening. (a tested queen - is one that is allowed by the producer to lay a pattern - if this queen doesn't fill a decent amount of cells....she's not sold.)
In closing - I don't know if anyone else sees it....but it seems like the year end flowers - are here...and it seems like it's crashing fast. It's drying up out there.