Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Goodbye Summer, Goodbye Nectar Flow, Hello Fall

This summer was a whirlwind of honeybee activity.  I started late spring with ten nucs.  Seven nucs were given to me by a generous beekeeper. Two others I worked for by assisting another beekeeper to make splits and one was the swarm I hived on that cold June morning.  How did it get to be almost the end of October?  Well since June,  I worked with and split the ten into thirty-three hives using the OTS queen rearing method by Mel Disselkoen.  I sold two,  and am forging into the fall with thirty-one hives.  I did not even take a lick of honey from the bees this year!  I focused mainly on making more bees.  Now the focus turns to keeping them alive for the winter.
Because of last winters losses and the probable varroa mite infestation, I did mite counts this summer.  If the mite count was high, above threshold, greater than two mites per 100 bees, I treated.  I used the oxalic dribble (medium strength) per guidelines on Scientific Beekeeping website. I did the dribble while there was no capped brood in the hive, that window where all the brood from the old queen  had emerged and the new queen had not started laying or was just beginning to lay.  Treating during this window of time means there are no mites hiding beneath the capping and all mites should be phoretic, hitchhiking on the bees in the hive.  So all the mites in the hive are exposed to the oxalic acid.
I didn't want to treat, but I do not wish to lose my bees again either.   The brood breaks are an excellent way to knock back varroa and keep there numbers to a manageable level, BUT even if your bees are "clean," drones carrying varroa mites from any hives in your surrounding areas can enter your hives uncontested and re-infest your hives.  Many beekeepers have done mite counts in July and August and find them to be below threshold and then suddenly in September their hives are inundated with mites.  Beekeepers call this a Varroa Bomb.  Getting nailed with drones infested by Varroa or your strong hive robs a neighboring weak hive that is full of Varroa and your bees unknowingly carry Varroa back to your "clean" hive.  It is a sad state of affairs and one must remain vigilant.
This summer was so busy with the bees, my son's graduation open house and a trip out west, I didn't get many "in the hive" pictures but I did manage to catch them foraging here and there.   Enjoy the images of summer 2016.
Honeybee on Anise Hyssop

Honeybees water color at hive entrance

Honeybee on Lemon Queen sunflower

Home Apiary with splits

Honeybee on Basswood bloom.  Right in my own back yard! The smell of this tree in bloom is intoxicating.  Love standing underneath it and listening to the happy hum of busy bees!

Honeybee alighting onto Basswood bloom.

Honeybee on Sunflower bloom

Honeybee on Buckwheat bloom

Honey bee gathering nectar from Buckwheat bloom

Buckwheat blooming in my backyard.

Honeybees on top of frame

Honeybee on Anemone bloom

Honeybee on Japanese Anemone bloom

Honeybee on Anise Hyssop bloom.  See the pollen she has started gathering in her "pollen basket" on her leg?

Honeybees on Japanese Anemone bloom

Honeybee on Zinnia bloom