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!