As a fairly new beekeeper, it’s quite difficult to know that you’re doing things right for your bees. Stuart and I don’t have that experience yet to really know that things are OK. To add to this difficulty, there seems to be 101 ways to do anything connected with honey bees and most of them are ‘not wrong’!
I feel that most beekeepers will tell you that after learning the basics, you have to work out what’s best for your own bees on you piece of land!
Getting Bees Ready for Winter – Close Inspect of Hives
This week I have a really good look at my two hives – it will be winter before we know it and we need to know that our bees will have the food they need to survive until spring. We’ve had a little bit of rain here in S Texas and that means there will be a Fall Honey Flow. The bees can fill up their hives with honey to keep them going over winter.
In the Italian Hive I saw frames full of honey and several frames with new brood. Zoom in on the photo on the left above. This a a piece of freshly drawn out comb full of eggs and larvae. At the top you can see a number of eggs, looking like grains of rice. Going down you can see tiny C shaped larvae and then the big girls at the bottom that are ready to be capped over for pupation.
I didn’t see the Queen, but her evidence was there – new eggs and larvae prove that she’s been around very recently. The brood hatching now are the bees that will overwinter, clustered around the Queen to keep her safe and warm.
Texan Honeybees Update
If you remember, we’d transferred the Texan bees into their new hive a short while ago. For several days after there were a lot of bees hanging around the walls of their old hive which got me worried. The good news this week was that the old hive is empty now and we assume they did all follow their queen into the new hive. Of course, we really don’t know if they had absconded – just hope they’re safe.
The other great bit of news is they these bees are much calmer than they’d been recently. Some chatter through my local Bee Community seemed to indicate that other peoples hives had turned meaner because of the loooong hot summer. Perhaps the fact that it’s a little bit cooler now and that we have had a little rain has made all the difference.
I also spoke with another local beekeeper who said that a friend had re-queened several “mean” hives and it didn’t make any difference with their behavior. I’ve nixed plans to re-queen this hive. Doing OK.
Winter Plans for the Honeybees
We’re reasonably happy with the food supplies in our hives and hope they’ll do a good job of adding to their supplies with the Fall Honey Flow. Our Plans for the next month or two will be to:
- Monitor stored honey in each hive
- Continue to feed with sugar syrup in our central feeder – using 2:1 ratio of sugar:water unless we have significant rainfall
- Check for wax moth larvae and small hive beetles
Haven’t really talked about pests in the hive – wax moths and small hive beetles. There’s always going to be a few in the hive, but if a hive is healthy & thriving the bees will keep things under control. And that’s my goal, although it’s something you always need to keep an eye on!
Problem with Cutout Frames
When we transferred the bees last week, I had one big frame of honey comb from the Layens Hive that we had to cut out and put into two Langstroth Frames. This was my first time doing this and I didn’t do so well – my zig zags were too wide! The honey comb from both frames had collapsed!
What to do? The question was asked at last nights Bee Club meeting and the answer was to remove both frames and put them a little away from the hive & let the bees retrieve the honey. Thank you Julie. I accomplished this with much less mess than expected because the bees had already moved quite a lot of the honey out of the collapsed combs. It took less than 5 minutes to get those combs out of the hive.
No Mess, No Fuss, No Stings! Successful error correction! It’s a good day.
I’m finding out that with beekeeping, there’s dozen opinions for every question, decision or problem. And NONE of them are wrong!! As a novice I felt that we’d need to take the combs out and that was confirmed. Perhaps I’m starting to get a feel for my bees after 6 months of beekeeping. I hope so.