Fall Bees

I went in to check out my bees yesterday. I wanted to see how they where doing for honey stores. Saddly they really don’t have a whole lot stored and I was forced to decide on feeding them. I really would prefer not to feed them, and I would never take all their honey and leave them with only sugar water. However, given the choice of feed or let them starve this winter I choose feed. I gave them a pint mason jar of feed since the quart jar did not fit and they drank most of it by nightfall. For feeding I punch holes in the mason jar lid and set it upside-down on scraps of wood at the back of the hive. Next time they’re getting two jars.

I also saw my queen for the first time ever. I didn’t have my camera, but Jake got two very blurry cell phone pics to commemorate the event. She was missing the blue dot on the back of her head, so I’m not sure if she is the same queen I put in or not. I wonder if its possible that the bees already had made their own queen who did away with the queen I gave them. Either way, there is a queen and that makes me happy.

The bees have decided that the birdbath is a good place to get drinks. (In fairness there is no real way to tell if these are my bees or bees from somewhere else. They did fly back in the direction of my hive)

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Bees are making progress

The lazy bees have finally decided to make a full comb of honey. Now if we can get to repeat that act a few more times they might make it though the winter.

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The hive is boiling over with bees, and there is a ton of purple loostrife and golden rod for them to chow down on. They should be buckling down and getting to work.

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Purple Loostrife actually makes green nectar. I had hoped to see some when I peeked in on Saturday, but it was all golden colored. (I am well aware of how evil purple loostrife is; I don’t feel the need to discuss it here)

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It looks like black pollen packed in the bottom. I’ve read that tulips have very dark pollen, but its rather late in the year for that. I also read that the bees will sometimes pack back coal dust, but where would they find coal around here?

I only looked at the last few bars to see the new comb was being build straight.

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They’re still building away. This is the first comb I’ve seen them drawing out in more then one place at once. The otherones have always grown from one central point.

North East Treatment Free

The conference was Thursday evening though Sunday night. I have absorbed more information in the past few days then I have in a very long time. I have to admit that a lot of it was over my head, but I filed away as much as I possibly could. Mike Palmer and Kirk Webster both talked and demonstrated making up nucs for over wintering. I think I am going to try and make some Top Bar nucs next year (if I my hive(s) are strong enough to doso. It fit really well with Corwin Bell’s ideas of bee guardian’s and localizing your bees.

Mike Palmer

I’ve heard a few people talking about the problem with northerners ordering southern bees. They just aren’t well adapted for our winters. However, southern packages are available early in the year and kind of the only option for a lot of people. If we all made up a few nucs and over wintered them you will have bees available to help with winter losses, or to give/trade/sell to your neighbors who need bees in the spring. Now, if you are working together and trying to get a line of bees that are adapted for your region. Mike Palmer also said that his overwintered nucs build up really well in the spring and have been yielding good honey crops. Now if that doesn’t convince you, think about how much money you could save by not having to buy packages or nucs to build up your numbers or replace winter losses.

Kirk Webster

They built 4 frame nucs in one hive body with a special feeder to divide them. They put one frame of uncapped honey against the feeder, a frame of brood next to that, then a partially filled frame of brood, then a mostly empty frame of drawn comb. The idea is that the bees will eat the honey then fill that with brood. They will fill and cap the outer frames. The nucs seem to form one cluster in the center against the feeder as if they are sharing their warmth. That’s the basic idea; hopefully videos from the conference will be posted so you can hear it straight from the horse’s mouth.

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If you are going to be introducing queens, it was suggested that you remove any queen cells on the frames. Otherwise make sure they have the materials to make their own queen.