Hello Fellow Beekeepers,
As you know we are not having any monthly meetings until further notice. This is making things quite difficult for our beekeeping club but hopefully everyone is continuing on with their season.
I wanted to send out an email this month and recap some issues that Paul and I have faced with our adjoining apiaries.
Treatment for mites :
You should have been treating for mites and this should be coming to an end in my opinion. The capped brood present at this time in the hive will be winter bees that will make it to the spring – most of the bees that are in the hive now will probably die out over the winter. Treatment needs to be performed so that the mite load can be low enough so the hive can withstand any viral infections. Paul and I decided to treat this year with Formic Pro which is a natural treatment of formic acid and does not leave any chemical residue. Eddie and Sherman treated earlier with HopGuard which is also a natural treatment of Hops but then treated this fall with Apiguard.
Any hives that are not “heavy” probably would benefit from liquid sugar treatment of a 1:1 mixture of sugar and water. I think that you should be lifting the back of your hives at this time and see how heavy they are. If you have trouble lifting them then they are heavy enough, if they are really light then they need to be inspected for a viable queen and fed with sugar syrup 1:1. It would be nice to have about 50-70 pounds of feed in a 10 frame deep to get through the winter, you may need more if you are using double deeps.
Fall Flow :
We seem to be having quite a nice fall nectar flow this year with Golden Rod (the Kentucky State flower) and aster. Paul and I planted two crops of Buckwheat this year and then let it reseed itself after the bloom matured. We were very impressed with the nectar flow from the Buckwheat plant and the bees REALLY harvested the nectar on the Buckwheat from 8 – 11:30 in the morning. But by 1 pm you would not see any further bees on the Buckwheat flower since the nectar flow is highest in the morning – very interesting. Buckwheat is very easy to plant, very resilient, and quick to grow – it flowers within a month of planting so plan accordingly. We started our planting around July 1 and separated plantings by 2 weeks so that we could have prolonged bloom and nectar flow for our apiaries.
Brood pattern :
Eddie, Sherman, Paul, and I have all noticed an abundance of capped brood in our hives this year and we really have some very strong hives. All this capped brood is going to be the winter bees that will make it through to the spring. As all of this capped brood hatches out the bees will backfill these cells with nectar for the winter, I want to see this fall flow continue so that the bees can back fill these cells nicely. Over the next week or two you will also see the queen slow down with regard to her laying of eggs since the hive will not need as many bees as we go into the winter.
Number of hives :As I have become more experienced with beekeeping (by listening to our veteran beekeepers over the past 7 years) I am not so worried about how many hives I have in the fall to go through the winter as I am concerned about how many STRONG hives I have. I don’t need 30 moderate to weak hives going through the winter! I would rather combine weak hives with strong ones now so that I have 15 STRONG hives in the fall and then if I want more hives in the spring I can split them or OTS them etc. Strong hives with a good laying queen with a nice brood pattern with many bees and heavy with honey will not need nearly as much attention this winter and will come out in the spring ready to explode.
Hopefully you have harvested your honey and your supers should have dry drawn out comb and ready for storage if you have not stored them already. I store my dry comb in black plastic contractor bags with two handfulls of cedar shavings and a tablespoon of paramoth (notice I did not say mothballs – this contains a different chemical that is actually toxic to the bees). I then tape it shut and store it on pallets in my basement. You can also store supers in a freezer or even nonworking freezer so that the wax moths cannot get to them. The supers should be dry so as to not get mildew.
I made up many nucs in early July from OTS of hives after removing supers and boy have they come in handy. I had about 10 queen right nucs and we have used those to requeen queenless hives or hives that we thought had a poorly functioning queen and we killed her. Paul and I would do this by the newspaper method in order to introduce the new bees to the native hive. Usually we would just put the double stacked nuc in a 10 frame and put it on top of the queenless hive after placing a single sheet of newspaper down. I am going to try to take through the winter several triple stacked deep nucs and see how they are in the spring. I would encourage every beekeeper to keep several queen right nucs in your apiary throughout the season for just these times of needing to requeen a hive.
Winter chores :
Start to think now about what it is that you want to do in the spring and if you need to make up more hive bodies you can do this in the fall and winter and have them painted and ready for the spring. I have been painting supers so that they are ready to go for next year’s nectar flow – when I take them out of the plastic bag in the spring they can be aired out and ready to place right on top of the hive.
I hope that everyone is doing well and keeping themselves safe in this strange time with COVID 19. I would ask for your permission to interject that please remember that our country and democracy was founded in order to have a place where every individual had rights and could exercise them accordingly. I think everyone should make sure to vote in November for the candidate of YOUR choice. We should be able to have different opinions and ideas and still remain friends no matter the outcome of the election this November.
I will talk with you soon via email,
Kent J Kessler