Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Late Summer Flow

The Knotweed flow has started and I did manage to find a few bushes here and there around the area.  Not enough to create any kind of flow, but something to keep the girls busy.  Fortunately there are a lot of late summer flowers blooming in gardens around the neighborhood.  There are also some bushes and exotic trees blooming and the herbs are just wrapping up.  For the most part there hasn't been much of a surplus in the city this year.  However beekeepers outside the cities have reported that this it has been a great year.  It seems that this year the rain lasted too long at the lower altitudes during the bloom here and broke just in time for the major blooms at higher elevations away from the ocean.

Nectar from Knotweed.

It seems like just yesterday I was waiting for summer to get going and now it's September.  Daylight hours are slowly slipping away and it's getting dark before 8:30PM, but at least the weather is still 70-ish and mostly sunny.  When looking at the bees I'm thinking about if they are ready for spring, and not so much what they are going to do next or worrying about them swarming (although you can always get a crazy hive set on killing themselves with a late season swarm).  Right now I'm feeling pretty good about most of the hives.  I'm concerned about the old Engineer hive with the iffy new queen and I'm concerned about the Geek hive and the varroa issue hurting their winter preparations.  I'm also watching the yellow jackets closely as there are a lot of them around looking for any weakness they can take advantage of in a hive.

The girls are all over the Cornflowers.

Nectar from Gladioli.

Pollen form Burdock.

Nectar from the Mimosa tree.  Too bad there aren't a few more of these around.

I've been a little behind on posting so there are several hive checks below.  I've also done some harvesting the last couple weeks I'll write up in my next post.

Hive Checks (8/19/2012)
Engineer Queens Nuc
The hive is looking to be in good shape for winter.  Will build them up with syrup for the rest of the season.

Engineer Hive
No sign of a queen.  Not sure what happened to her, but she is gone.  They did make at least one queen cell on the donated frame.  Will see how the new queen attempt does.  If she fails I will merge one of the strong nucs or the original queen back into the hive.  Harvested two frames of capped honey.

Northgate Swarm
The last bar in the nuc is now drawn out.  I didn't inspect beyond that because I have no room left to slide combs back and would have to take a frame out of the hive.  With the yellow jackets and dearth I didn't want to do that and start a robbing situation.

Powder sugared again (this was week 4).  I believe I'm seeing improvement.  In retrospect I think I should have pulled the queen as soon as I saw an issue.  Next year I'm going to pull the queens from my best hives during the flow to maximize production and give them a brood break.

Nuc 2
Building up nicely.  Both of the empty frames I gave them last week are full of brood now.  Found a queen cup with royal jelly in it.  I suspect the frames helped, but they my have the swarm impulse going.

Nuc 3
They are getting syrup and are close to where I want them for winter.

I'll try to inspect later.  Too much yellow jacket activity in the area after going through the other hives.  I did check that back frames and they don't seem to be bringing in anything new right now.

Hive Checks (8/20/2012)
For a blond queen she sure is laying a lot of darker girls.  The hive is small, but looking to be in good shape for the winter.  Added syrup to help boost their stores and maybe get them to draw out a few more combs before winter.

The queen with her attendants.

Full hive of bees.  Saw the queen and lots of healthy larvae and eggs on the way.  Plenty of honey, and they are still drying the frames.  There are a couple ugly cross combs in the back I'll enjoy smashing up to harvest.

Hive Checks (8/28/2012)
Queen Castle 1
Slot 3 - Slowly building up and everything is looking good.

Full inspection.  Found a good amount of dried honey and several frames of brood.

Engineer Hive
The new queen has emerged and she's a slightly smaller version of the Icon queen.  Several nurse bees have emerged as well from the donated comb.  I'm not sure if she has mated yet.  She's not very big for a queen and appears to be be feeding herself.  My gut says she will be gone or not laying when I check again, but I'll cross my figure and hope anyway.  The Icon queen is not very "fat" either but longer so there is some hope that smaller is simply her genetics.  If she doesn't work out I'm moving the Northgate swarm into this hive as they could use the extra room.  Also noticed that these girls have mostly sealed their entrance holes with propolis.

Notice her small size next to the worker.  

They sealed down their entrances with propolis.

Nuc 3 and Engineer Queens Nuc
Feeding, but no check.

Nuc 2
Building up nicely and the swarm signs are gone now.  These girls are stubborn comb builders but otherwise everything looks good.

Northgate swarm
The Nuc is packed full of bees and brood and they need a full hive soon.  The girls are runny, but otherwise were not as aggressive as they have been in the past.  Also the laying pattern is very much improved.  Perhaps they did manage to re-queen themselves.

Next week I'll post pictures of the harvest.

- Jeff

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