On August 26th the weather was wonderful! It had been a month since I had checked on the bees. I was lucky enough to spend a large chunk of that time visiting my husband’s family in Norway. The weather there was cooler than home and there was quite a bit of rain. It was good to get back to the sunshine and warmth of summer.
The summer at home has been nice, but we haven’t had a lot of hot days and the humidity has been lower than in the past. In my garden I noticed the affects of the changes in weather. The heat loving plants that I sometimes grow, were not doing well this year. They just didn’t get the heat that they need. I am wondering how these changes are affecting all of the plants that the bees depend on.
The humidity has also been much lower than in the past, which leads to it being drier out. We had a very wet spring, but now there is not enough moisture. This may lead to a nectar dearth and make the fall harder on the bees. The last time I checked in on the bees, they had almost no nectar or honey stores. Old Frog Pond Farm is not lacking in forage, but if the nectar is hard to come by then that creates challenges.
During this visit, I started at the Willow Hive. When I opened the hive, I found mouse droppings on top of the bars. Yuck! I cleaned off the bars with some of the brush around the hive. I need to fill all of the open space with bars to try to deter the mice. They had five bars with brood at all stages, but very little else. They also don’t seem to be building any new comb, the amount has not changed in a month now.
The things that I did find several of in the hive was small hive beetles! I took out the empty comb that a few of them were on and I squashed them. I also found some larvae in the hive and I got rid of them too. Looking at the bottom of the hive, I saw that there were some larvae between the screen and the bottom board. I used the hive tool and squished them.
Then I was off to the Orchard Hive. The last visit with them was very pleasant and they looked good. They had lots of brood and some honey stores built up. They were not at all pleasant this time! Several bees lost their lives trying to sting me through my gloves! It was just too much, so I closed up the hive and decided that I would return another day to check in on them.
On August 30th I went back to look in on both hives. Again, I started at the Willow Hive. This time I did not open the hive and look in on the colony. I only opened the bottom board up to clean all of the small hive beetle larvae off. It looked like I had taken care of most of them the last time I was out. It was easy to remove the board and scrape it off. When I put it back on I left it open a bit for ventilation. Everything else looked good with this colony and there is no need for me to bother them again so soon.
Then I needed to try with the Orchard Hive again and I needed to inspect them. When I opened the hive they seemed a lot less grumpy, but still a bit uneasy about having me there. They were not trying to sting my gloves this time, but there was a bit of buzzing in my face. This colony also seems to have stopped building comb at this point, so I removed two bars that were empty.
The colony was still large, there were eighteen bars with brood on them. It looked like there was only one bar with eggs on it, but that may not be the case. The eggs can be difficult to see. There were three bars with larvae on them and the rest were capped brood. Even though the colony is still quite large, I closed off the second opening that the bees had. I prefer that at this point in the year they only have one opening to protect.
This time there was more pollen, nectar, and honey in the hive. Even with some stores built up, there is not near enough for them to make it through the winter. I have seen this same thing for the last two years. The hive doesn’t have much at the end of August, but my mid September they have plenty. I will come back in a couple of weeks to see how things are going.
I have been doing visual mite checks through the season and I have not seen many. There was only one mite that I saw on a worker bee today. Of course, there is a large number of bees away foraging while I inspect the hive. This may mean that there are a lot more mites than I know about. At this time the bees look really good and they seem to be doing what they need to be doing.
The drone population has started to dwindle. While I was inspecting the hive, there were some workers that were evicting drones right in front of me. I was happy to see that since their food stores are low. The other thing that I saw was there were bees in the area outside of the divider board and it looked like they were collecting some of the propolis that was there. It could be that it is getting harder to get it from the trees at this time, so they could be repurposing what is there.