Monday, September 16, 2013

Bee prepared

Time for a little bee update, it's been a while! I had peeked a week ago and sadly found my honey supers completely devoid of honey. There was a small patch of capped honey before we left for our great trip, so I was hoping for at least a little jar full, but alas, no such sweet luck. It seems that in July, there isn't much nectar flow here in MA, but in August, the Goldenrod is supposed to give the bees a bit of a boost.
Mixing bee food
A more thorough inspection of the hives revealed very little in terms of honey and nectar stores, so I installed two hive top feeders that will provide the bees with easy access to a thick sugar syrup laced with essential oils to boost their health and prevent mold. The smell of the mix, called 'HoneyBee Healthy', will forever elicit my first bee memories! The day I hived my bees came back to me immediately when I opened the bottle. What a ride it's been!
See the queen cell with the round hole in it?
In anticipation of treating the hives against the dreaded varroa mite I closed the screen bottoms with thin sheets of plywood. Digging through the deep brood boxes, I found queen cells in each hive, with the inhabitant already eclosed (but recently so), but I also found eggs in each hive as well. Because I was already taking a while disassembling all the layers of boxes, I didn't go frame by frame, and didn't locate the queens. I sure hope they're not trying to supersede again (!?!?!?!) because there won't be many drones flying at this time of the year to mate with them! So I'll keep my fingers crossed and continue observing what is going on until it gets too cold to open the hives. 
As I'm learning more about fall management, the scariest part is that after a certain time, it's really not a good plan to open the hives lest the bees will die of exposure. For a type A control freak like me, that's nearly unbearable. I'll have to do my best now, and then trust (Trust!!) that things are going the way they're supposed to, until spring. I have a little while to feed them, though, before winter comes in earnest.
Brood, nectar and pollen. I'd like to see more honey!
A whole frame of completely empty new honeycomb. I sure hope they'll fill that asap!
While I was checking on brood, I pulled a frame to show the 3yo assistant and but what do I see? A waggle dance! My first time seeing this miraculous marvel of bee communication live. The bee dances with a waggling butt, indicating an angle in which to fly, and a duration of flight. Then she walks a half circle back to her starting point and begins again. Once I saw it, there was no mistaking it, I so wished I had video capability right there. Speaking of which, I can't wait to show the movie 'More than Honey' at my local library this week. Spreading the bee bug! If you have a chance, this movie is insanely beautiful, scary, and captivating. Watch it!

In other animal-related news, I have called the goat guy with a heavy heart and told him we're not ready for another new addition to our backyard this year. Trying my hardest to be an adult, with patience and logical thinking and all that, I figure learning about the bees and building our new garden was enough for 2013 (and ongoing!) projects. But I really hope to revisit 'project goat' next year! 

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