Fall Report

I’ve been so busy lately that my free time and the weather never seem to cooperate. The hive on the left has been noticeably less and less active as the days go by though, and today I finally got a chance to check on them. They had glued down everything with bur comb, so getting the lid off took some work, but once I opened it up there were almost no bees inside. I pulled out 5 frames in all, and everyone of them was half filled with capped larvae, though all of it was dead. What wasn’t occupied by capped larvae was either eggs or pollen. I got to the frame that had the most bees on it and there were a few dozen eggs, and even some developing larvae. I didn’t see the queen, even though there were only a few hundred bees in the entire hive, but the eggs were all uniform and at the bottom of the cells. I don’t understand why the colony failed so suddenly. There is plenty of food (I’m amazed at how much pollen there is) and the eggs seem viable. I did see many of the workers had varroa mites on them though, which was frustrating. I missed the window for a winter treatment so there’s not really much I can do. The hive weighed a little over 60lbs and had more than enough pollen to make it through the winter. If they didn’t have varroa mites I would probably just combine them with the swarm hive.

The captured swarm is doing phenomenal. The bees had not only glued down the inner roof but the telescoping cover as well. Everything is sealed with propolis and wax. After I got the lid off I was amazed to see every frame covered in bees. The hive weighs close to 90lbs and there were no signs of trouble. I’m very hopeful that they make it through the winter, and I’m going to be monitoring them closely. I plan on treating for varroa in the late winter/early spring. I haven’t extracted any of the honey I removed from the hive yet, and I’m thinking I may just add it back into the hive as they need it.


6 responses to “Fall Report”

  1. Emily Scott says :

    If doing an oxalic acid trickle is an option you could do that in late December – usually around the time of the winter solstice is when the queen is least likely to be laying. That’s 22nd Dec this year.

    • willowbatel says :

      Thanks for the advice! My bees didn’t make it through November unfortunately. Both hives were so big this year I’m really disappointed they failed. I think I need a break from it next year. Beyond not treating the hives I’m unsure of what I’m doing wrong.

      • Emily Scott says :

        Oh no 😦 Sorry to hear that. We love our bees so much and it’s so sad when they don’t make it. Sometimes the biggest hives are the ones most affected by varroa, because more brood = more space for the mites to reproduce. It’s cruel.

        • willowbatel says :

          In the 6+ years I’ve been doing this I’ve only had bees make it through the winter once, and they didn’t make it through spring. I really should go take some classes I think, but the closest Beekeepers Association is an hour away, and they meet right in the middle of rush hour. I’m not sure what to do!

          • Emily Scott says :

            That’s a shame. Maybe find some online/distance learning classes? For example the British Beekeepers Association runs a correspondence course for its module exams, this costs £55 per course. The examiner sends you questions to work on and then gives you feedback on your answers by email. (You couldn’t sit the exam itself though as that is done at various centres in the UK.)

            Maybe there’s something like this in the US or Canada? I find following blogs like Rusty at Honey Bee Suite’s (http://www.honeybeesuite.com) very useful too.

            • willowbatel says :

              Yeah, classes would really help. It’s always the winter that gets me. And my colonies are always strong going into them, so I’m just missing some key piece of information or skipping some step somewhere that’s messing things up. This year I’m going to take a break and see if that doesn’t clear out whatever bad habit is causing me to kill these bees year after year.

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