Bee Update

I haven’t posted much on the bees this summer, but I’m glad to report that all is well.
I started the spring with one very strong hive.  This was one of the original hives I started with three years ago.  I decided in early spring to split the hive which means I took several frames of bees, some brood (bee babies at various ages), pollen, and honey and placed them in a separate hive body.  The bees then made their own queen and, presto, I had another hive.
Since the original hive was so large, I decided to do another split following the same technique.  I moved this hive to my dads garden where they continue to enjoy their new surroundings.
Then the swarm calls started coming in

and before I knew it, I had 8 hives.
Later in the summer, a friend asked if I would be interested in buying her dad’s three hives and equipment and, since I’m a bee junkie, I said yes.  The clincher, though, was this…
a 12 frame ELECTRIC honey extractor.  No more cranking!! happy dance happy dance
So, on a hot Saturday night in July, we took our sixteen-foot trailer and made the hour drive for a very unique date night.
Moving bees on date night
Most people go to the movies on date night
I sold one of the hives and put one hive at my dads and the other at my house.
Now I have more hives than I know what to do with.
The honey harvest was good, though, and we harvested over 200 pounds  We had white clover blooming for a long period of time and the honey was very sweet. The honey we pulled off later was quite a bit darker with a stronger flavor.
Spring harvest on the left, late summer harvest on the right
My granddaughter has been talking about helping me, so we got her a bee suit
but when she heard and saw how many bees were in the hive, she decided to stand by the fence.  We will try again later if she wants.  I will say that she is the cutest, toothless, beekeeper I’ve ever seen.
Now that fall is here, preparations are happening to make sure the hive is ready for winter.
First and foremost, I need to make sure they have enough to eat.  Believe it or not, bees do not work tirelessly just so I can take their honey.  In the winter, the bees cluster together to keep warm and eat on the honey they worked so hard to make.  For a strong colony, they will need about 60 pounds of honey stored in the hive.  That’s one deep hive body with ten frames full on honey on both sides.
This is one side of one frame almost full of capped honey.  Each frame weighs approx. 5-6 pounds when full of honey.
When I harvest honey, I am always mindful of how much I pull off and I never take it all.  It could be the difference of living and dying for the bees.
Next, I keep an eye out for pests.  Bees have to worry about bugs, too.  Varroa mites and small hive beetles can weaken a hive quickly.  All summer I have been monitoring and fighting small hive beetles.  I have been using unscented Swiffer pads to catch them as opposed to using a chemical treatment.  The bees will roughen up the pad and then chase beetles to the pad where they get stuck.
It’s been working pretty good and I try to change out the pad every couple of weeks.
I’ve also been using disposable beetle traps.
Small hive beetle trap
Hive beetle trap
These traps are filled with oil or diatomaceous earth and placed in between frames.  The bees chase them to the traps where they fall in and die. Recently, I’ve been studying how to use essential oils to combat both varroa mites and beetles so I will let you know how that is going soon.
Next, I change the entrance reducer to the small opening.
In the summer, the large opening allows a large number of bees to move in and out, and provides air and ventilation throughout the hive.  In the winter, the smaller opening helps keep the bees warm.  This time of year, the boys (drones) are kicked out of the hive.  The queen also slows down on laying eggs so there is not much traffic going through the hive.
Soon, the bees will be tucked in for winter and I will have time to clean and organize my little section of the barn.  In the meantime, it looks like Peaches has taken over my watch.
I am linking this blog post to Our Simple Homestead blog hop.