Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Late Summer Blooms

Here in the Northwest it's that time of year when the summer sun has pretty much dried everything up and there aren't many flowers blooming unless you are at a higher mountain elevation.  Besides Asters and fall blooming Heathers this is an opportunity for some exotics to really take the spotlight.  Knotweed is the most abundant exotic bloomer this time of year, but there are some other great plants that are getting the girls attention that I'll be writing about later this month. 

Heptacodium miconioides is a tough one to find, and is a beautiful small tree of delicate white flowers with a light citrus scent that will be in full bloom until October. 

Future bee vacation spot in the Cascade Mountains?

I also heard at the local club meeting to try grease patties to help with varroa "because it makes the bee's slick".  I know how they work for Tracheal mites, but have never heard this before and checked online and found some research by WVU that seemed to confirm that this does work under some conditions (low brood and strong hives).  I added them to a few hives and if nothing else it's a little bit of sugar to keep them busy.

Yellow jackets have also been lurking around all the hives looking for anything to munch on or a weak hive to attack.  I stumbled across one of the local nests in the front yard while cleaning up a flower bed and got a couple stings before I knew they were there.  Not being a fan of them at that location or wanting to risk letting them take out one of the weak queen castles 15 feet away I removed them with a bucket of soapy water poured into the ground nest.  Soapy water is effective without adding the toxic pesticides to the environment that are bad for pretty much everything (be sure to pick a biodegradable soap if you opt for a home solution).

Geranium blooms.

Black Eyed Susan's still going strong.

Asters are loaded with blooms and bees.

Speckled Toad Lilies are blooming.

On the sad note the Librarian hive has lost their queen.  By the signs of the emergency queen cells everywhere I would guess she slowed down egg laying about 15 days ago and then died suddenly and they made their best attempts to build emergency queen cells with what was left, which there weren't many.  I found 6 frames with emergency cells, but two frames with uncapped cells that didn't look very promising.  I pulled two frames and put them into the queen castle to improve my odds of getting a mated queen.  

Looking back in my notes it was almost a year ago to the day that I looked into this hive to discover the same type of issue except in that case it was caused by their relativity large brood nest getting split into two parts by a honey wall in the middle.  At the time the bees on one side of the wall made emergency cells everywhere while the girls on the other side were just going along fine.  I pulled the queen last year (Geek queen) and put her in a nuc and let them raise the Librarian queen.  So I'll keep my fingers crossed that this hive can pull off another late season queen. 

Hive checks (9/2/2012)

Queen Castle 1
Slot 3
Brooding up and added some feed to empty comb.

Added grease patty.

Engineers Queen Nuc
Added more syrup & a grease patty.

Nuc 3
Added more syrup.

Added grease patty.

Added grease patty.  Found 6 frames with emergency queen cells.. some capped and some almost capped. No sign of queen.  Feels a little like deja-vu in this hive.

Hive checks (9/5/2012)

Nuc 2
The hive seems to be stabilized at it's current size and they have brought in a frame of dark honey.  

Pulled 4 frames to make up two queen castle slots to increase my odds of getting a queen out of their latest adventure.

Hive checks (9/9/2012)

Queen Castle 2
Slot 1
Saw the newly emerged queen when I was adding syrup.

Newly emerged queen.

Slot 3
Looks to have been a bad queen cell.  Combined with Slot 1.

Engineers Hive
Saw the queen and she's a little bigger now and looking more the part.  Will continue to keep my fingers crossed she mated well and starts laying soon.

Icon daughter queen in old Engineer hive looking a little better than last week.

Nuc 3
Added more syrup.

Engineer Nuc
They have slowed down their syrup intake.  

Back to the bees.

- Jeff


  1. Enjoyed the accounting of where your season is at. Great shots--

    1. Thank you! Sometimes it can be a challenge to capture a good shot of them before they dart off to another flower.