Hive No. 1

With much apprehension I opened up hive No. 1 yesterday to see if there was anything left. Much to my surprise the bees were doing as well as could be expected. I saw a few hundred bees working diligently to repair the damage caused by the yellow jackets.

I saw hive No. 1’s queen as well.

There weren’t as many yellow jackets as there had been before, outside the hive. Inside the hive I didn’t see any. The entrance reducer, and closing up the other entrances, had allowed the remaining honey bee forces to shore up their defenses. With just one small opening they could then take the fight directly to the yellow jackets on, one at a time. I witnessed at least one or two being escorted from the entrance to meet their demise. I encouraged two honey bees to back off and personally killed one yellow jacket myself with a stick.

It felt good.

I moved all the honey I could find towards the center of the hive. The bees were busy relocating honey as well and repairing damaged comb, as best I could tell.

The wasp traps were doing their job finally. Each had yellow jackets inside. The traps, from Lowe’s, feature two chambers. The upper is filled with soda, the lower has some sort of scented pad. All the scented pad does is attract honey bees, so I have to help any trapped ones get out before they die.

The upper soda filled chamber is working well to kill flies and yellow jackets. Pepsi seems to work better than Sprite.

Hives No. 2 and No. 3 seem to be doing well, with little or no yellow jacket activity.

Hive No. 2 should be okay for the winter. As should No. 3, though it appears to be lagging the powerhouse that is No. 2.

Hive No. 1 could survive, but no way to know for sure.  The last couple days of warm weather have been a boon. And we’re feeding as much sugar-water as we can to the weakened hive. Eventually we will take the empty deep off the bottom to make the hive more compact, and reserve the pollen laden frames for spring. The bottom deep is empty so no need to keep it on stand over winter.

Wait and see. And hope for a warm winter.

Here are some pictures, including a glorious photo of hive No. 1 still alive, as well as the traps.

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Autumn Bee Check & Early Winter Hive Prep

We did a quick bee check of all three hives today. It was a fairly temperate day, and we just had our first frost, so all the signs point towards checking bees while we still can. Snow will be upon us soon enough. This is probably the last or second to last check of the bees until spring

Our goals for checking the bees in fall:

  1. Start moving honey frames towards the center – the bees will form a big warm ball of bees in the center of the hive, likely the middle or lower deep. They won’t go far to get honey, even if they are hungry. Also they likely will move up the hive, so it’s important that the middle deep is where most of the honey is at
  2. Check for mites – hives 1 and 3 both have mites, so we decided to treat all three hives with Hop Guard. Mites create bees with deformed wings, kill baby bees before they hatch and generally cause decline in bee populations. The cardboard strips of Hop Guard are placed over the deep frames, two to a hive box. They are not placed in the honey “supers” higher up in the hive.
  3. Treat for hive beetles – hive 1 has beetles so we decided to put beetle traps in all three hives. The trap is just a clear injection molded compartment that we fill with safflower oil. You can use canola oil, or other type of cooking oil that’s lying around. The beetles check in, but they don’t check out.

Later on this month we’ll install mouse guards to the entrances. These sheet metal shields are perforated to allow bees to come and go, but they won’t let rodents enter the main entrance of the hive. Up top we’ll place a queen excluder screen to keep the mice out of the top of the hive, as well.

Sometime in November I’ll fashion insulating shells, from 2″ rigid insulation. The insulating shells will protect the hives from what is supposed to be a very cold winter. This will be a pain to do every year. I’d like to invent a hive with rigid insulation built into the boxes. This would regulate temperatures year round just like an old hollow tree trunk would (that’s my theory at least).

The bees seem happy, as happy as bees can be. Hive No. 2 should be fine, as should hive No. 1. Hive No. 3 is lagging behind honey-wise and bee population-wise, so I’m uncertain. All three hives have eggs and / or a visible queen (we saw hive No. 1 queen today).

Here are today’s photos including a bee birthday.

Autumn Scenes & Honey Bottle Label

Autumn is in full swing.

Today we labeled our honey bottles. The labels look okay. There are some design changes I’ll make but those can wait until the next batch. We needed to get them labeled for tomorrow’s community yard sale.

Here are a few photos, including one of a frog that jumped out in front of the Rabbit the other day. It’s a northern green frog (Rana clamitans melanomawhich is can be found throughout Ohio. It’s fun discovering a “new to us” species on our land. Especially this large of an amphibian. One of these days I should do a book on all the animals we have on our land.

So many ideas, so little time.