It’s quite sad to be down to one beehive so early in the season this year. I started the season with some high hopes to split one of the colonies to put bees into the hive in The Maynard Honeybee Meadow, but now my plans have changed. The meadow will have to wait until next spring to get bees. I really don’t want to weaken my only colony at this point. Now the plan is to put my focus into the Orchard Hive colony.
There were ants in the window again, but I just left them alone this time. They should be finding a new place to live soon and I am sick of shooing them away. Upon opening the lid, I was happy to not find any more wasps! Maybe they are gone for the season. They had to build their nests elsewhere, somewhere where I am not knocking them down every two weeks!
This colony has twenty two bars and I added three more empty ones today. The two bars on the outer most edges of the hive are still empty. The new bars that I added I placed in closer to the brood nest. The brood pattern looks really good. This queen is very productive. The hive has mostly worker brood now, but there is still a little drone brood.
The bees have built six queen cups, but all of them are empty. They build them to have them just in case they need to replace the queen. My past colonies have always had several ready during the active season and then they take them down late in the fall. I do not ever cut the queen cups off or mess with them in any way. If the bees need to make a new queen, I don’t want to be the reason that they can’t.
There is very little capped honey at this point, but there is plenty of nectar. In the years before, the bees wouldn’t have much and then in August they would fill the hives with capped honey. Old Frog Pond Farm has forage for the bees all through the season, but they seem to create their winter stores in August and September. My first year beekeeping, I was really worried in July when I didn’t find much in the hives and then I was very relieved in August when the hives were almost full of honey.
Her majesty was easy to find today, but as always she was trying the best she could to hide from me. I enjoy watching the queens, but I try not to do so for too long. They don’t seem to like me gawking at them and I understand. The other thing that I saw walking around on the comb today was a varroa mite! I tried to kill it with the hive tool, but it was too fast for me. I decided to open up the bottom of the hive for ventilation and to hopefully let mites fall out of the hive. I need to put something on the board under the screened bottom so that I can do a mite count.
Today’s visit was a nice one. The bees were so calm and gentle with me. We also had great weather today which I am sure helped them to feel at ease with me opening their home up. These bees are so pleasant to visit each time. Visiting them has made me feel better about beekeeping this year. I started the year with a bit of a negative feeling due to loosing all of my colonies last season, but they have helped change that for me. I am sad that I lost the Willow colony, but for whatever reason they were just not meant to be. Now I can put my energy into the Orchard Hive and continue to learn more about keeping bees.