Checking Honey Stores

This week I continue to check how the bees are doing in prep for winter.  I also wanted to get a good feel for how the fall nectar flow, which largely consists of goldenrod, was doing.  Every hive seems to be doing very well and it looks like I will get to do one more small extraction of fall honey and it currently looks like I will not need to feed the bees in prep for winter.  It is amazing how different the bees' behavior is when there is a nectar flow on.  Everyone was much more docile and I probably could have gone in gloveless like I prefer.  I guess idle hands of bees mean they like to sting.  Things can still change as we get into fall, however, especially if there are pests or parasites that stress out the bees and make them sick and as the fall flow winds down.  I will have to still keep a close eye on all of the hives to make sure they make a good entry into winter this year no matter how strong or mild of a winter it is.

The first hive I inspected was Leaf Litter. This hive has had the weakest performance this year but it has still done well.  I don't think I will be getting any honey out of the hive this year, but the bees have done a good job of building themselves up and so far they are making good headway in the the cooler months on the east coast.  For each hive I checked the frames in the honey supers installed on them, checked the top of the two brood box deeps to see what the bees were doing with them, and I also lifted the back of each hive with only the brood next boxes on to get a feel for how heavy it was.  Checking the hive weight like this can be a quick way to see how much honey the bees have left, but you need to do it regularly so you can familiarize yourself with what light or heavy hive really feels like.  Here is what one of Leaf Litter's brood frames looks like:

Frame from Leaf Litter's brood next in late August

Things are looking really good in leaf litter.  In the bottom left you can see uncapped brood, and all of those capped cells are also brood.  It is difficult to see in the small version of this image (click for bigger) but you can see that as bees are hatching out their cells are being filled with nectar to become honey that will feed them for the winter. This is great, and they just need to bring in more food. 

The next hive I checked out was Boatmurdered, which is doing exceptionally well with its new queen:

Frame from Boatmurdered's top brood box in late august

Boatmurdered has stored up a lot of honey, enough that they are filling in their open gaps in the brood box with it and enough to nearly fill a surplus honey super.  You can see that they also have some drone brood being reared in the bottom left corner of the above frame.  You do see some swarms in September occasionally due to the rise in bee population as they go into winter, but this does seem a bit late in the year for new drones.  Regardless, this hive is doing great prep for winter.  They also are bringing in a surplus of nectar and filling the honey supers with it.  I was excited to see new wax production at this time of the year.  Something you usually do not see in the fall.  I could tell they were making new wax because of how white it was, which you can see on the top of these frames that the bees started to use to build ladders up to the box above it:

New white wax on the top of frames on boatmurdered

The last hive to inspect in the community garden was Cheese Palace.  The bees were a little more ornery this week than last, but I was happy to see that they have been recovering well from their treatment for mites.  I even saw Queen Bee Mary T the First when inspecting this week, still weaking most of the yellow dot that was placed on her thorax to signify she was a queen raised in 2012.

Frame from Cheesepalace inspection in late August

This frame does appear quite different from the other hives, but it still is showing good signs.  All of those white cells in the center of the frame are larva growing until they are old enough to be capped.  There are some eggs and younger larva around them, but the majority of cells that appear wet are filled with nectar.  Other frames in Cheese Palace looked more like the other hives, but these bees have to make up some lost time from their MAQS treatment and get more bees going to lead them through the winter.

Once I finished up at the community garden I headed over to the Rhinelanders hive to take a look.  These bees have also been doing very well, and I don't see any problems with them going into the winter at this point.

Late August frame from Rhinelanders hive

Lots of nectar in that frame, blocking out the queen from laying more eggs in this frame. The only brood left are in those few capped cells on the left side and scattered around the rest.

All in all things look very promising this fall!  I need to keep an eye on hive beetles, which so far have not been terrible but I am expecting them to ramp up later in the fall like they did last year.  I also need to check for mites again in a few weeks, though at this point in the year I am not certain their is much I can do to help out the bees if it turns out one of the hives has had a mite population explosion.

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