I haven’t updated in a month or so, but have continued to inspect and monitor the progress of the bees in the backyard. In fact, it’s the most therapeutic and relaxing part of my day or week; going out and tending to the bees. Which mostly involves just lifting the cover and seeing if they are feeding on sugar syrup.
During the first 2 weeks of October, we had a lot of rain that kept the bees cooped up for long periods of time. During that time, the nuc hive ate the one full frame of honey they had, This was due in large part to the population explosion that was going on within that hive. The queen laid her eggs in time for the fall flow, but the weather didn’t cooperate very well. However, once the weather cleared, she and the workers went at it in a big way. They have been bringing in both nectar and pollen while continuing to expend their numbers. It finally got to the point where I decided they were outgrowing the nuc. They had drawn out and filled all of the frames, completely covering them with several frames of capped brood. So I moved them into a full-sized hive with the lower box being full-size and the upper box being the medium size frames. Right now the configuration looks like this.
I’m still feeding but will pull that off and insert frames and centering the filled out ones in the topo box once it looks like the weather is getting ready to turn colder. We had a snap get down in the high 30’s a couple of weeks ago, but otherwise it has been mild.
My other hive, the “main” hive isn’t looking as robust as the one above. The queen is still laying a few egs, but she has backed way off. They are feeding and storing honey. In fact they have about 15 frames of honey spread across a medium and a shallow boxe from which they will be able to feed.
In the above picture, we’re looking down into the brood box, which is a medium. Beside that is another medium box that is mostly honey and then the third box is a shallow super that is mostly honey with a few combs still needing to be drawn out.
But there just aren’t as many bees here, and there are most hive beetles and more mites. I’ve seen a fair number of bees with deformed wings which is a tell-tale sign of a mite infection gone too far. But rather than treating (it’s getting too late in the year anyway) I’m going to let them go and see what they can do. I did pit a couple of dry swiffer pads to see if I could trap some of the beetles and I’ll continue feeding until the cold really hits.
The thought occurred to me that I could combine these two hives but I’m reluctant to give up either of these queens as they both have done so well. I might still let the new hive have one of the honey boxes at some point, just to give them a better chance especially since it looks like the main hive is dwindling in numbers.
Starting the second hive in July was a gamble, but it turns out to have been a fairly good one so far. I inadvertently broke up the life cycle of the Varroa mites in that hive as they had a few weeks where there was hardly any brood at all since the new queen was hatching and getting mated during a time when the mites were ramping up in the other hive. with this latest population explosion, the new queen was able to get ahead of them in a big way and now she’s starting to back off and the workers are able to fill the empty cells with honey and pollen.
I also did something on my main hive that might have hurt them, which was I removed the deep brood box, with the idea of being able to go to all medium frames at some point in the future. They had it fairly well-stocked with pollen but there was hardly any brood in there at all. I took those frames that were drawn out and put them in the freezer for a few days, and then they went into the new hive when I expanded them to a full box.
I also have some candy frames that I made with a water-sugar paste that I can install to help feed them when needed. One of them is a deep frame and the other two are mediums. This is mostly for the newer colony since they have the least in terms of honey storage and the most in terms of bee population.
So now it’s just a matter of keeping my fingers crossed that I can get both of these hives through the winter. Fortunately we still have a few more working days for the bees to get ready.