It seems that our family can't remember what our house looks like on the weekends as we have been on the road the last several weekends, this weekend included. We headed up to Baltimore and the National Aquarium. A friend of ours is a diver for the Henrico Fire Department, and he had the opportunity to go diving in the tanks at the aquarium with the fish, so we went along to watch. But before we headed out on Saturday, the bees got a visit from me to see how things were going.
The bees haven't seen me since before the hurricane. It is starting to get cooler during the nights and the bees needed to be checked to make sure they are storing up enough honey and pollen to get them through the winter months.
There was some concern about hive #2 of my original hives. The last inspection showed that there was honey on a few of the outer frames on the top hive body only in the upper corners of the frames. Definitely not enough for the winter. Figured that the bees would need some additional feeding this fall, I made up three containers of 2:1 sugar syrup with a little Honey-B-Healthy added in, one for each hive.
Inspecting original hive #1, I was pleasantly surprised how many bees were in the hive and how much honey was in the hive. The top hive body outer frames were loaded with honey on both sides. The really surprising thing was that they even had finally drawn out the 1 and 10 frame on the top hive body. They had left the foundation without any comb at the last inspection. Now they had drawn it out and filled it partially with honey. The bottom hive body showed plenty of brood, both capped and uncapped along with quite a bit of pollen. The queen wasn't seen, but evidence was there. This hive has always been my strongest, and the confidence level is high that this hive will winter well. The honey super on this hive was still untouched, but was left on to make sure the bees knew they didn't need to look elsewhere for space.
Inspecting original hive #2 was no surprise. The little honey that was there on the previous inspection had dwindled down to only a few frames in the upper corners in the upper hive body. Very little honey anywhere, and not a lot of pollen either. There was a wasp that was right on top of me and the frames as I was doing the inspection on this hive. It kept flying around my face and then going after the honey on the frames sitting outside the hive. You can see it in the bottom right corner of the picture below.
After the inspection was almost complete, the wasp sat down on one of the support boards that extends from under my hives. A quick slap of the hive tool and the wasp was permanently dispatched. One other thing that I noticed was that there were some larvae that looked larger than would normally be uncapped laying on the bottom of the cells. You can see them in the picture below.
There were still some drones in the hive, and some of the cells around these looked like drone cells. Would the worker bees not cap larvae that were going to be drones this late in the summer? If anyone knows what this situation is, and if I need to worry, please let me know.There were probably less than a dozen of these total in the hive.
This hive needed to be fed so it could start building up its winter stores of honey. I added a hive top feeder and filled it up with syrup. The honey super that was on the hive was left on since there were still a lot of bees in the hive, and I am hoping that they will fill up the drawn comb in the deep hive bodies, and not start to draw comb in the honey super first. After doing that, second thoughts crept in and I may try to remove the honey super to force the bees to fill the deep hive bodies. The brood pattern in this hive was also smaller and more patchy than original hive #1. It probably could use a pollen patty to give it a boost. Tomorrow after work I may try to get to the hive and remove the honey super and add in half a pollen patty. After putting everything at the original hives back together, it was time to head over to the Possum hive.
The last inspection at the Possum hive showed that there was an average amount of honey, but not enough to keep it through the winter. This has been a very busy hive since then. The top hive body was full of honey and some pollen. There was a little brood in the lower portion of the center frames. The bottom hive body was amazing. There was lots of pollen and other than the outside two frames on either side, it was solid brood. And not just patchy, but solid. This queen has the best laying pattern of all three of my hives. At this point, I didn't add a feeder as it seems to be on the right track to preparing for winter.
A close eye will be kept on original hive #2 to see how fast it takes in the syrup. The hive top feeder was also turned around since that hive is on a steeper slope, and this will keep the syrup usable towards the front where the access is to the hive top feeder. This isn't standard, but we will see how it works out. The other hives may need feeding next month, depending on how things progress, but they are looking good now.
I also got my first bee sting, on the middle of my left forearm. I felt a little prick on my arm, looked down and didn't see anything, so kept on inspecting. A little bit later I felt it again. I looked closer and there was the stinger. No bee, just the stinger. I'm not sure what happened or why it felt it needed to sting me, but it did. It wasn't so bad. Nothing like a wasp or hornet sting. Hopefully though, these will be few and far between.