September 12, 2020
Yesterday afternoon I received a call back from Manolo, from the Miellerie. I cannot get over how patient and friendly they are there. « We love bees, love talking about bees, so never hesitate to call or drop by with your questions! ». And I had lots !
Mostly, I was wondering about having the queen excluder on and the honey medium on top.
First, because the end frames of the brood box were not completely full. Also, because the honey frames were not filling in. It'S early september, still warm, but for how long ? Will they have time to fill all those frames ??
Quick answer : No way. Not in our climate.
Here is what my quick chat with Manolo came down to :
Feeding 2:1 syrup will trigger the bees to slow brood rearing and the queen will lower her laying, whereas 1:1 syrup imitates nectar flow, which gets everyone on producing bee mode. They should start storing the syrup, ventilate to reduce the excess mosture content, add whatever saliva chemicals they do, then cap it for winter honey stores.
He reassured me that I made a good decision by adding the honey supers to give them room. But they won’t have time to do much, so it’s better to remove the frames. Having mostly empty boxes on top is wasting time, bee efforts and heat.
They will start reducing their numbers soon, by about a third, so not so much room with be needed. REducing 60,000 bees by a third is not many bees...
The inner feeder is taking up precious space. I can’t leave it in for the winter, because it will only become a big block of ice, chilling and killing the bees. Might even crack with temperature fluctuations.
The 2:1 syrup storage will take up the empty space that might be left in brood frames for the winter. Manolo said that if 4 to 5 frames are full of brood and pollen, and other frames are full of honey, they’ll be fine.
I should never have the varroa treatment inside during honey flow. Not good for humans, nor for bees. So that means no treatment in the full swing of spring.
Festooning is a good sign!! Means bees are helping eachother escalate the frames, instead of having to crawl on the outside walls, or on top of their sisters. "Scuze me, move aside, make some room, scuze me!..."
Fill the feeder and check it in 48 hours. If most of the syrup is gone, they are storing and feeding well for the colder days ahead...
Whew. I feel better now.
Saturday was a beautiful sunny day for shopping for beekeeping supplies. The girl was alone so I had her all to myself and she was able to answer my questions about feeding for the fall and wintering. I checked out a beekeeper suit, bee escapes (more about that when I harvest noney).
I stained the outside of the feeder when we got home, cleaned the honey frames and the queen excluder of the propolis and the little comb that was on it. Propolis is extremely sticky, and gets worse with hot water, as I soon discovered... soap has zero effect on it. Better to let it harden, then scrape it off.
Richard made me an entrance reducer from a scrap piece of wood he had. Read on the subject to be sure we had the right size. Most have another slot on the top, but I can’t figure out what it’s for...
Anyway, he made it so the height is ¾ inch by 3 inches wide, instead of the 4.5 inches. That will help keep heat in a bit more, help the guard bees in fighting off any wasps that could try to get into the hive, any butterflies, mice or lord knows what else. I read that mice can do a lot of damage, making a little nest and feed off the honey. Bees are likely to sting it to death eventually, then mummify it with propolis. I hope I never find a mouse in there.
An unpleasant visitor