It has been a few weeks since the time was taken to give a thorough looking at the three beehives. Everything was looking good at my last visit.
The two primary hives were full of bees. The brood pattern looked good and it seemed that the hives were doing great. There was a small concern about swarming as it was still early in the summer and the hives appeared to be running out of room. Because of this a honey super with a queen excluder was placed on top. Knowing the nectar flow was slowing if not done, it was more just to reassure the bees that they didn't need to find a new home and that they would continue to receive additional space as needed. After inspecting the hives at Possum's garden, the same preventive measures were taken.
Last weekend after a quick trip to the Dairy Queen down the way with the Middle Son and Youngest Son, we drove past the hives. We stopped at the two main hives because they were bearding again. A sign of strong hives and hot, humid weather.
Saturday morning time was finally available to give them a good once over. Upon opening the first hive and removing the honey super, which the bees hadn't touched, other than to hang around on, the mass of bees was incredible. The hive was definitely strong.
However, appearances can be deceiving. After actually pulling frames out and checking, there wasn't as much honey in the upper hive body as there had been the last time I checked. There was only capped honey in the upper corners of the frames. These bees were using up their resources and food reserves during the dry time. They will definitely need feeding this fall to make sure they have enough to get them through the winter.
The next hive had more bees and they were in much better shape. They had full frames full of capped honey. I was able to look through both hive bodies before they started getting agitated. Apparently they do that this time of year. There isn't as much pollen and nectar to be gathered so more of the bees hang around the hive and they think you are taking their goods, so they get a bit upset. Understandable.
The hive at Possum's garden was between the other two hives as far as honey reserves and pollen. These bees have always been a bit more aggressive than the other two hives, and Saturday morning they didn't disappoint! After a quick look, I closed it up and left them alone.
The bees are going to need some TLC this fall to help their chances of making it through the winter. The going average in Virginia is about 30% losses over the winter, whether from starvation, pests, insecticides or a number of other things. I am starting to wonder if beekeeping is for me. Being an engineer by education, and liking everything to work according to a schedule and be logical, this may not be the hobby for me. My bees apparently didn't get the message. They do what they want and not according to any book. They keep me wondering what will happen next. They are frustrating and fascinating at the same time. Although I think I will keep them around for a while, at least until we get a taste of their sweet rewards!