Monday, August 26, 2013

Starting Fall Management

I spent time this last week or so in my apiaries removing supers.  Yes, there is some more honey out there (I am guessing at possibly as much as 45 kgs (100 lbs), but the main reason for running around the hives is to start my Fall Management. I managed to remove all but a couple of supers from all the hives and they are generally now down to just two deeps.  The hives where I left supers on had some brood in them and I want to have this emerge before I take these off too.

So why remove the supers with honey and why not leave this on for the bees in the winter?  Two reasons. The first is that a super of partially full honey is a lot of empty space for the bees to keep clear of beetles and other possible infestations. And secondly, in the depths of a cold winter the honey will be harder for the bees to get to. The super is not in my view the best location in the hive for honey to be kept in over winter.

So I have taken the honey off and I plan to extract it this coming week.

So what else does Fall Management mean?  To me it is the the start of the effort to winterize the hives.  I have done mite counts on the hives already and I have treated some hives and not treated others.  I tested a couple of weeks ago and this last week saw me do a second round of tests/counts to see how effective the first was.  It looks like the MAQS worked well this year, but the jury (my jury at least) is still out on caging the queen. this has the potential to be a good system but unfortunately for me it was pretty inconclusive as she escaped! So here is a summary of where I am:

MOBOT Hives and Diane's Hive:  After the initial treatment, mite counts were low and so I think the treatment was successful.  I have not yet been into the hive to look through the brood, but I plan to do that later this week.  I hope there will be some good brood and that these mature hives will get through the winter.  If the queens are OK think I will re-queen them in the spring after once more testing and treating for mites.

Backyard Hives: Mite counts remain high so I plan to use MAQS but only after the weather cools off a little.  This week (the last in August) is proving to be quite hot with temperatures forecast to be in the low to mid 30s Celsius (well into the 90s F).  Which I think is too hot to treat.  Last year I am convinced the high temperatures effected and possibly killed off the queens.  As with the MOBOT hives I hope to re-queen these in the spring, possibly after some further mite treatment in or around March.

Ladue Hives:  These continue to be strong.  I looked in the hives over the weekend and there is a lot of good brood pattern in all the nests.  I anticipate these hives to be quite productive next year. The mature hive (the one that came through last winter) has a high(ish) mite count and I think I will treat here, once it cools down.  Again I will check on mite counts in early spring and I hope (if needed) I will knock the mites back using MAQS or drone comb.

One final thing.  Tonight I collect 10 gallons of High Fructose Corn Syrup the club obtained from a food company.  I intend to use this as winter feed, if this is needed.  The late summer weather has been good and I hope this means there has been a decent nectar flow on.  I know some honey has come in and many of my hives have deeps with nectar and honey where last year they had none.  So I'll leave the hives to do their thing for a couple more weeks at least.  By mid September I think I will know if I need to feed any hives. The weather by then should still be mild enough for the bees to take this syrup.

It's been a busy couple of weeks and will remain so for at least another month!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Missouri State Fair.

Just arrived home after an enjoyable day at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia.  My honey was placed 3rd in the candied honey class!  I'm very happy about that!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Queen Uncaged!

At last I got into the Carniolan hive to uncage the queen. This hive is just so sticky with propolis. It was a real struggle to open it up!  When I did and when I got down to the cage I found she had broken out!

I've no idea how long she had been uncaged for (its been 10 days since she was caged) but there was little sign of any new eggs having been laid, which I suppose is good.  Anyway I was beginning to think she had disappeared altogether, and then I spotted her; she seems fine.

I'll do a second mite count in the next couple of weeks or so to see what effect caging her has had!

Summer Camp!

I just spent a very enjoyable morning with three classes of children at the local Presbyterian Church in Kirkwood.  

I was asked back in April if I'd like to give some talks on bees in the summer And II always find it hard to resist droning on about my bees!

It wasn't looking good for my observation hive this morning though; overcast and threatening rain - even thunder - and the first hive I tried were really unimpressed with my efforts to open them up. So I beat a hasty retreat and waited an hour; luckily the second hive was nice and cooperative!

Anyway, thanks to all at the church for letting me give my talks. I hope everyone enjoyed the honey!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Last MAQS removed

I removed the MAQS from the hive in Diane's yard today. I was prepared for some aggressive behavior but the girls were nice and calm. Just goes to show you never can predict how they will behave. 

I'm finally due to uncage the queen from my last hive under 'treatment' on Wednesday. I'll then wait a couple of weeks before checking mite counts again. That gives me plenty of time to check brood patterns and stores in the hives. 

This July and August is so far very different to last year; msinly because the bees are still bringing stuff in. Last year at this time there was a complete dearth of forage. That said, most hive bodies are not exactly what I would describe as "bursting with honey" but the supers are still pretty full which is a much better position than they were in last year!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Chalk and Cheese!

Well I'm convinced the aggression is linked to MAQS. I went back to the hives today to put on a super. The bees were calm and not at all aggressive. This despite the fact It was humid, overcast and rain is forecast for the afternoon. Ok so I smoked the hive but that was only light and I was in the hive straight away.

So beware bees with MAQS!  Mind you, I suppose if you lived in an acid environment for a week you'd be pretty pissed off! 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

And it's supposed to be for their own good!

I went to the gardens at lunchtime to remove the MAQS. The treatment has been in a week now and the weather has been great for it.

When I got to the gardens I realized I'd forgotten matches so I couldn't light my smoker. But I figured that I'd only be in the hives very briefly so it wouldn't rally matter. How wrong I was!  As soon as I opened up the hives the bees came for me! Lots of them! Both hives acted the same way. And it was warm and sunny too! So what's the reason?

Was the MAQS was making them angry?
Was the lack of smoke a problem? Would this calmed them?
Perhaps they smelt the banana I ate in the office just before I left and this made them aggressive?

Whatever it was they were unpleasant and I rushed away with a few stings! I'll leave them a week before going back and checking on the queens.

Ungrateful girls! The treatment is supposed to be for their own good! I'll be better prepared got the last hive that has MAQS in it.