Summer is slowly winding down, and the bees have been making the most of the fine weather. They’ve been in a foraging frenzy, perhaps sensing the forthcoming temperature changes.
It cooled down over the weekend, with rain on and off all day today. Each time the showers stop, the foraging begins again.
And yet, when we checked the hives a week or so ago, Buzzers’ Roost had no honey, and FreeBees had very little. Instead, we saw loads of pollen, lots of nectar, and a surprising amount of capped brood.
Still, with all that nectar, there’s bound to be some honey soon.
Check out the graphs below. Notice any trends?
The first two graphs show the weight of the hive over the last month — finally trending upward. The next two show a week each, and you’ll notice daily ups and downs, probably from when the foragers are out.
So, we’re not too worried about honey levels, at least not yet.
Below is a picture of a frame containing both nectar and pollen. We also found several that were filled solely with nectar or solely with pollen. Theoretically, we should be able to identify the source of the pollen by its color, but unfortunately, I’ve not found an accurate chart online. Here are links to two if you’d like to try: Sheffield Beekeepers’ Association and Metrobeekeepers.net. My guess is mostly goldenrod because the fields are full of it.
While we had the hives open, we did alcohol rolls on both. This is supposed to be a more accurate way to count Varroa.
Our count was a big fat zero on both hives.
Yeah, we must have done it wrong.
Either that or the hive beetles are eating them. Don’t even ask how many of those we found. It was too many to count.
The weird thing is, the bees mostly ignore the beetles. Once in a while, they’ll herd a particularly brazen one into a corner, but then the bees go back to whatever they were doing, and the beetle scuttles away. (Unless we get it first!)
There was propolis everywhere, especially around the beetle traps, which makes me wonder if this is the bees’ response to the pests. There were a few beetle corpses in some of the propolis, so who knows?
Unfortunately, our girls don’t seem to grasp that the traps are there to help them and had propolized the openings where the beetles are meant to enter. At least one trap had every opening completely blocked.
But let’s get back back to the subject of the main hive pest — the dreaded Varroa. For two years, we’ve used drone foundation as part of Varroa control, with very little success.
Last year, the hive used the drone foundation mostly for honey.
This year, both hives have ignored them.
This year, a few short weeks — okay, a few short months — before the workers start kicking out drones (to lower the number of mouths they have to feed in the winter), FreeBees has decided to make drone cells. Half the foundation was full of capped drone brood, and there were more cells on the top of some of the other frames.
Weird. Also unusual in placement. Drone cells are usually at the bottom of hive frames.
Whatever. It’s their hive. They can do what they want.
As we’d been instructed, we removed the drone foundation and opened the cells to check for Varroa, but found none there either.
I can’t believe there are no mites at all, but am willing, even eager, to believe the treatments have been working, and the threshold is safely low.
Just to be sure, we will treat both hives with Oxalic Acid before winter after we take off the supers.
I’m still holding out hope that we might be able to pull at least one frame of honey for ourselves.