July 2016 Bee Check

A quick update on our bees, as we checked them earlier this week.

Hive No. 3 is looking good. They filled up their first mid sized super so we added another mid size box just above it, and put a queen excluder in between. We don’t usually use queen excluders but this we are trying them out. The excluder keeps the queen out so that the bees can only put honey in the top box. The bottom three boxes can have eggs and or honey. Overall this is a strong looking hive, free of mites.

Hive No. 1 is not looking good at all. We saw mites the last time we checked, then ordered some “Hops Guard” to treat them with. That product was on back order so we had to wait a few weeks, then I noticed I actually had some in my studio…so we could have treated them.

Well anyway, we treated them this week but it looks like the mites took a toll on our super strong aggressive hive. Our smoker isn’t really working right anymore so I was apprehensive to check Hive No. 1 but as it turned out, about it’s population was knocked about in half, and they weren’t much in the mood for fighting.

We think we saw eggs, and there is some brood. After treatment that should get rid of the mites and hopefully the hive will rally for late summer.

Regardless, after these two hives die out, we’re going to take a year or two off from beekeeping. We’ve got a lot going on, and other things we need and want to focus on. Beekeeping is an incredible hobby and we’ll pick it up again after a short break. I’m not getting rid of any of our equipment. It’s just something for when we have more time and less stress.

For Fourth of July I’m looking forward to finally getting a day off after working for a few weeks straight. I’m going to work in the yard from dawn to dusk hopefully and whip it all back into shape – spread a few bags of mulch beneath the fruit trees, weed whack the nature trails, clean out the front bed…also going to look at cleaning out the roof washers for the rain water collection system, and possibly even stain the sand box finally after two years.

The cicadas are about done in northeast Ohio. Most of the trees are now sporting dead tips on their branches where the cicadas laid eggs. Many of our smaller trees that we bought and planted over the last four years got hammered. It’s hard to imagine our remaining two black gum trees surviving, but only time will tell. Same for our poor allegheny serviceberries. The apples and even the peach trees weren’t spared either.

If I thought it wouldn’t upset the kids so much I think I’d be ready to move. It was a fun experiment that I probably wasn’t cut out for lol.

Here are this week’s photos:

Early Fall Bee Check

Days are getting shorter, and cooler as autumn creeps into Northeast Ohio. We checked the bees for the first time since there was a swarm a week or two ago. Methodically we examined all three hives, top to bottom. I don’t know if we found anything surprising, other than we can’t tell which hive swarmed, or if the swarm was even ours. All three hives seemed relatively healthy and strong. Though the next four weeks will be telling, as late fall and eventually winter approaches.

Hive No. 3: we saw eggs, though no queen. Their honey production is lacking as their medium super is empty. Like all three hives, the bottom deep box is fairly empty as well, devoid of much honey or brood I believe.

Hive No. 2: we saw no queen, and not necessarily any eggs either. Though towards the end of summer egg production goes down in preparation for winter. The hive was strong and well populated. It’s hard to believe that this would have been the hive that swarmed. Honey in hive No. 2 is in good supply and no apparent pests.

Hive No. 1: the largest hive has larvae and a queen. And likely close to 50K+ bees in it. We thought this would have been the swarm hive but there is a queen so it is not. This hive is beleaguered by pests though, including yellow jackets, hive beetles and mites. We treated the hive for mites and beetles, and squished as many yellow jackets as we could. The hive has at least 30 lbs. of honey in the lower medium super. We’ll have to see if we can harvest any or if we’ll just leave it for the bees for winter.

My suspicion is that we won’t harvest anything from hive No. 1 this fall. Hives No. 2 & No. 3 are off-limits ’til spring.

Elsewhere a deer decided to rut on one of the few trees I didn’t wrap, so of course I had to go out and wrap the trunk of a blaze red tupelo tree in the front yard.

Here are today’s photos: