THE BEEYARD REPORT
The old homestead looks a lot different. The remains of the barn have been buried. There is a lot of open space behind the house. The buildings across the road have been buried also. There is a clear view between the neighbors and us. We can spy on each other. The croquet course has suffered from all the equipment that has been rumbling around my yard. It will be even more challenging than before. We are taking bids for a 40’ addition to our honey house. I still need to figure out some kind of shelter for the horses. It’s going to be something simple. They will probably stand outside and look at it most of the time.
Going into winter, our bees look better than they have in years. As we went through one of the yards, Adam’s comment was, ”It looks like July.” Even the two yards that had mega mites look good. Still, I know many of those bees have invisible damage and are candidates to die in March. Some yards were really light but the temps have been on our side for the most part. The bees are taking syrup well. We have around 525 for winter. About 50 of these are singles. We’ve never had good luck keeping singles alive, but I like the way these look. It remains to be seen if this will translate into wintering success. At the national meeting last year I was talking to a guy from Allen Dick’s neighborhood in Alberta. His name escapes me but he had converted his whole operation to single story colonies. He said he was giving each colony 50# to 60# of syrup. It seems to me that wouldn’t leave much space for the bees to cluster but the point is that they have to have enough feed and it has to be in the correct location in the hive, ie, on top of the bees.
It always surprises me how many colonies get lighter after I had marked them as having made weight. That’s the tricky part of feeding..The colonies still making bees go through a lot of food. We have wound up with more Italian queens in our system than I wanted. We have a couple of yards where every colony has taken five or six gallons of syrup. With the arrival of TM resistant foulbrood I want to incorporate some hygienic bees into our system. That’s going to take us even further toward an Italian line. We are going to buy 100 hygienic queens in the spring. If they are any good, we will select the best ones and use them for breeders. We’ll probably try some Carniolan crosses but we have to get some hygienic drones into our mating pool.
We have always had a few division board feeders. In the fall, it always seemed like a lot of bees drowned in the feeders, even if they had a float. We hardly ever see this in the spring. This fall we have seen almost no bees drowning in the feeders. The message I get from this is that the bees are pretty vigorous.
I’ve stated a couple of times in this column that bees won’t take syrup out of buckets when Miteaway pads are on the colonies. This is wrong. It repels them for a while but they will take it if it’s warm enough. Alex put a few buckets on colonies with pads this fall and the bees took the syrup. It takes them about three weeks to get two gallons down and they don’t touch it the first week. Last year was our first experience with Miteaway. October was pretty cold. This year it was much warmer and the bees took the syrup. Apiguard will repel bees from the syrup buckets, also.
Since our bees look so good, I thought this was the result of my skillful management. Then I went to the annual meeting. Everybody I talked to had good bees. Something was right with mother nature. That put me back on the same old track. Was it because of what I did or in spite of it?
Sometimes the indicators that you are on the edge of Varroa trouble are rather subtle. It may be something as minor as a few larva starting to unwind within the cells. Other times you will see a few hanging out of the cells when the nurse bees quit feeding them. If your brood has the pseudo foulbrood look and/or mites are visible on the bees, it’s too probably too late unless it’s very early in the fall.
.My business plan has always been, ”Do it with junk”. We may have to modify this a little. Things are starting to fall apart. We always have a “junk” pile but this year the junk pile is bigger than the good pile. I gave myself an early Christmas present and bought some new hive bodies. I’m sure we will have to make a lot of adjustments as we move toward the new season.
Happy Holidays to all!!!!
Submitted by Phil Ebert