In preparation for applying the Mite Away strips, we did a complete hive check on Friday.
We needed to find out how the brood was placed to assess where best to place the strips for treatment. Also, we wanted to get a reading on how prepared the girls are for winter.
The good news is we have a lot of bees, all squirreling away nectar/honey/pollen for the winter (a bit of a mixed metaphor, I know). We saw capped brood and larvae so our queen is still laying, albeit at a slower rate. The brood and larvae were all in the second brood box, but there were bees working in the bottom one.
There were no more capped drone cells on the drone frames. Instead, they were filling it with nectar. Hey, whatever works for them, right?
I tried to write down what was on each frame. It’s difficult to effectively transcribe and quantify, so my notes look something like “Frame 4: 1/2 1/4 honey, 2/3 nectar, some pollen; 1/2 2/3 nectar/honey.” And so on. (I actually made those amounts up — my real notes were even more confusing.)
According to my admittedly shaky calculations, the girls are coming up short on their winter supplies, and we’ll probably have to start feeding them again soon. For now they continue to feast on goldenrod, and, to a lesser extent, the asters that have begun blooming.
We inserted fresh beetle traps, but ended up also re-inserting the previously baited ones in the lower honey super because we killed two beetles there. We also sprinkled the fullest brood chamber with powdered sugar again, figuring it can’t hurt and may help until it cools down enough to use the Quick Strips.
Afterwards, we sat and watched the bees work. (We do this at least once a day.) There are always a few who have worked themselves to death (the plight of the worker bee) and just can’t fly any more. Sometimes just die on the front porch or ground around the hive. And sometimes the other bees come along and remove them, which is always interesting to watch.
If they’re still alive, The Engineer sometimes tries to help them back into the hive, but that’s just putting off the inevitable.This one is missing a leg.
Honey bees truly live to support their hive. My wish is that we’ve been able to fumble our way through supporting them well enough so they make it through the winter.
I fear the odds are against us.