Fall Bee Check

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:

Eggs and Larvae

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.

from http://www.brushymountainbeefarm.com/MiteAway-Quick-Strip/productinfo/194/

Removing the miteaway strips

Removing the miteaway strips

Hive B was busy, busy, busy. It is filled with bees:

Bees, bees, bees

Bees, bees, 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.

Plenty of sweet gooeyness

Plenty of sweet gooeyness

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:

Cooling Things Down

Cooling Things Down

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!

Dave - busy as a bee

Dave – busy as a bee

The Cat Lady

I went a little crazy taking pictures of the cats this week.

This led my husband to query, “You’re not going to turn into one of those weird old cat ladies, are you?”

Maybe, I thought.

But then, no. I went in search of an appropriate image for what I suspected he was thinking of. This one works:

weird catperson

I have to say, when I search images of weird cat ladies, there were some very disturbing pictures that came up, including one of a woman nursing what appeared to be a full size cat. Oooo, it made me shudder.

Anyway, the point of this post is simply to share the photos I took this week of mostly the kitten, Midge, but also the senior cat, Willow.

Midge (short for Midget), is finally growing a bit and while the two cats are not exactly getting along famously, they are learning to live with one another in disharmony.

Midge loving the out-of-doors

Midge loving the out-of-doors

Curiosity killed the what???

Curiosity killed the what???

Yeah, I like it inside too.

Yeah, I like it inside too.

If I can't see her she doesn't exist.

If I can’t see her she doesn’t exist.

Okay I see her. She does exist.

Okay I see her. She does exist.

And she swings.

And she swings.

And hides under stuff. . .

And hides under stuff. . .

Just to annoy me!

Just to annoy me!

Do not look at me!

Do not look at me!

And DO NOT take my picture!

And DO NOT take my picture!

Havin' some fun!

Havin’ some fun!

And some more fun. . .

And some more fun. . .

. . .and. . .done!

. . .and. . .done!

No. I’m not going to be one of those weird old cat ladies!

The Playhouse

A little remembrance of a favorite place from my childhood.

Hopping up the half circle steps of brick, I stop and lean over to smell the delicate purple and yellow pansies growing in the newly painted flower boxes. I smile at their little faces watching me. The playhouse door slams behind me and I imagine this is my very own home; I am in charge of everything here. I pull the little metal chair over to the phone attached to the dark wooden box hanging on the wall. Climbing onto the cool faded red of the seat, I lift the ear piece and lean on tiptoes toward the mouthpiece, turning the crank. I hear the far off ring of the other phone in the garage of Gramma and Grampa’s house. I know no one is outside to answer, so I announce to no one in particular that I have arrived home and will have supper ready when they get here. Replacing the ear piece on the cradle I jump down and haul the chair along the floor, back to the table. Donning an imaginary apron, I begin my daily chores by straightening the faded patchwork quilt thrown over the bottom bunk. This is no easy task since I have to maneuver around the heavy wooden ladder nailed to the side of the solid frame. Dropping to hands and knees I peek under the bunk and drag out the dented, wobbly pots and wooden spoons stored there, hearing them clank and rattle as they scrape across the floor. I notice some leaves have settled in the dark there, so I set the pots down and take the little broom from the corner and stretch it as far as I can under the bunk beds. As I slide it back out, dust and a few dried leaves come with it. Scooping this up I carry it outside and behind the playhouse to an imaginary garbage dump where years of leaves lie in decay along the fence. I return for the pot, bounce down the steps to the garden; little more than bushes and weeds growing alongside the little white building. Carefully searching through the new greenery for tiny pods and the greenest leaves to put into my pot, I work methodically, squatting to search underneath the bushes as I’ve watched Gram and Gramp do when picking peas or beans. I don’t want to miss any since I need to fill my pot for the large crowd I imagine will be joining me for supper. I stop from time to time to stir the contents with a wooden spoon, or pretend to bring a leaf to my mouth, testing for ripeness. When my pot is nearly full I march to the outdoor stone fireplace, where I will cook a delicious stew for my family.

Gram and Gramps - with the playhouse in the background

Gram and Gramps – with the playhouse in the background