Once again, it was time to check on the bees. Dave has been feeding them sugar water for a few weeks, since the floral life has dwindled away. Between the two hives they were fed about 37 pounds of sugar over four weeks.
We looked at Hive A first and it seems to be doing well – there were frames of eggs and larvae:
This is the hive that we introduced the new queen to earlier in the summer and she seems to be doing well, though the population is still relatively small. While they have been producing honey, there does not seem to be enough in the hive to get them through the winter.
When learning more about bees Dave learned of the Varroa mite, which can devastate a hive. The mites feed on the blood of the honey bee, by making cuts that may later become infected. Dave created a system of checking to see if the hives had mites and did discover a few. After researching several treatment methods he decided to go with the Miteaway Quick Strips.
Working with beekeepers all over the world this new strip formulation of formic acid not only kills adult Varroa mites but also kills 95% of the varroa under the cappings. Treatment consists of simply laying the strips across the frames for only 7 days with the daytime temparatures of 50-92 degrees F. Can be applied during honey flow and leaves no residue. Leave it on the hive for the bees to dispose of or the strips can be removed and composed.
Hive B was busy, busy, busy. It is filled with bees:
As Dave lifted each frame from the box you could hear an increasing in the buzzing and the sound of bees being rubbed off the frames on either side as one frame was lifted out. Despite this large number of bees Dave has concerns over not seeing any eggs of larvae in this hive. My feeling with the large number of bees, the large honey production that has occurred, and not a lot of drones being visible means the hive is still healthy. Is it possible the queen has stopped laying eggs because cooler temperatures have arrived?
I did a little research of my own and think this article states it best. In a nutshell a queen may stop laying altogether if there is no natural pollen or nectar coming into the hive. And sometimes she stops laying in October or November when the temperatures fall below 59 degrees.
There is plenty of honey being produced. . .wishing we could extract some, but know the bees will need it to survive the winter. Maybe next year!
Another interesting event we witnessed as we inspected the hive was a fanning behavior. I took a picture of the fanning going on (should have taken a video), but it’s a little difficult to see, so I circled a couple of the bees whose wings you could really notice as they did their work:
Bees fan for a couple of reasons: to create ventilation inside a busy hive or to evaporate water from nectar until it contains less than 18% water and can be safely stored forever as honey. Because the weather has cooled down, my guess is that the bees were fanning to evaporate water.
As I was searching around for more bee information I came across this great site that has a chart identifying all the different roles the working girls have. I found it interesting so share it with you here. Scroll down the page to the heading “A Hard Worker”.
I also came across another site that has some amazing photographs of bees – up close and personal. Check it out!
So, now the dilemma is trying to figure out the best thing to do to help the bees survive the long winter. Dave is suggesting combining the two hives to give them all a better chance of survival. One option to help the smaller hive with less honey stores is to feed them fondant throughout the winter, but then every time you open up the hive to add more fondant you are putting them at risk.
If we get another warm spell this month we plan to check Hive B once again. . .
I’ll keep you posted!