Monday, September 5, 2016

Last Inspection Until Fall Flow is Over (Maybe)

Apologies for the lack of bee photos. Ever since my kids discovered Pokemon Go, I never seem to have a charged battery.

During my last few checks, I've been skipping a few hives each time. So yesterday, I actually checked them all to make sure they were configured for fall. Although, I've been in the process of reconfiguration ever since late-July/early August, there were still a few hives that needed empty bars/partial combs moved to the back. I have enough comb that nobody needs to waste resources drawing some. Instead, I want all their resources going toward honey production.

Want to plant more garlic chives next year. They bloom in the fall & bees love them.
Autumn job starting to bloom

About 10 days ago, I spotted what I thought were a few capped supersedure cells in Elsa. What I discovered yesterday was 1) a big fat queen 2) the queen cells were still in the hive and capped. Sometimes, I find that bees make queens, but then they never emerge for some reason and they dry up in their cells. I don't know why, but if someone has the answer, I'd love to hear it.

Otherwise, the goldenrod and Japanese knotweed are in full bloom. Starting to see asters, too. While none of the hives has enough honey yet to weather our winter (excepting Elsa maybe who was left well provisioned before her sisters swarmed), the bees are beginning to store nectar and backfill.
Japanese knotweed

I don't know what kind of goldenrod this is, but it's on its way out.

Happily, this goldenrod is in full bloom.

By the way, that's the thing that stinks about beekeeping -- you sort of have to be a fortune teller. It's not really enough to look at how the bees are doing today; you have to predict what things will look like in a month, 2 months, 3 months down the road. In spring, you're planning for fall & winter. In winter, you're planning for spring. If I could have one superpower, I'd pick the ability to travel through space and time -- or mind control because that's pretty flipping fantastic too.

Rose of Sharon still blooming

Buddleia is another great plant to fill the July-August gap

I've been debating whether to feed or not. On the one hand, I don't have enough honey to feed, and I hate feeding syrup -- it's messy, it attracts robbers & pests, and it shortens the bees' lifespans, which is exactly what I don't want going into winter. On the other hand, it's been a poor year overall, and I worry they won't collect enough nectar to make it through winter. After a night of tossing and turning, I've settled on a course of reckless optimism and will wait to see how things shake out. The bees are storing nectar now, so maybe they'll surprise me. However, if they're still light at the end of our fall flow, October & November should still be warm enough to top them up or give them some sugar.
A pretty garden passed during this morning's walk

As a side note, I found 3 small hive beetles in Peach. They were all the way at the back of the hive in some dank old comb that the bees weren't patrolling. Fortunately, I did not see any SHB larvae. Since the comb was mostly empty anyway, it got yanked to eliminate their hiding place. In a week or so, I'll need to remember to donate some comb from another hive. I didn't do it yesterday because I was still considering supplementing with syrup and wanted the space for feeders.

Random bunny in my yard, but it's so gosh darn cute!
While fall honey does not appear to be part of my future, at least the bees look like they're starting to provision themselves for winter. I'm going to stop pestering them for the next month (except for moving some comb) so they can get to work. Carry on, ladies. Carry on.


  1. I think you're making the right choice to see how things shake out instead of feeding. You still have enough time left before winter to feed if you must, but it looks like you have lots of good sources for fall nectar. I hope the make up for their lack of stores now!

    1. Agree with Don. Wait and see. There is always a warm day in the middle of winter to pop in feed. BTW I love your flowers. I have many of the same! Autumn Joy for me, though, is Autumn Sorrow. It means winter is drawing near… and I think this one's gonna be a doozy.

    2. Thanks, Don and HB. Having two experienced beeks who know what they're doing chime in helps set my mind more at ease.

      I agree with you HB about the fall flowers being a bittersweet sight. Fingers crossed that your winter is a pleasant surprise. Although Don could probably make a more accurate prediction.

    3. I know what I'm doing just as much as the bees who make queen cells in late August. ;-)


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