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October and November 2018 honey bee thoughts.
So the summer heat kept on going for two weeks in Oct. which had the bees out foraging but there was not very much for them to bring home. My girls ate up much of their stored honey. Therefore, I am feeding a lot of heavy syrup to all five hives that are still alive. Happily, sugar is only 33 cents per pound and honey still sells for nine or ten dollars per pound!
Small hive beetles had a very low population in my back yard this year. However, one managed to sneak onto the frame of bees that Carolyn and I took to First Landing State Park for 'Fall Fest' on October 20. This was the sixth year we were invited to do an educational honey bee presentation for them. This single sneaky small hive beetle was chased all over the observation hive by the bees. Naturally, the kids saw the chase and wanted to know what what was going on with a black bug in the hive. The 'Fall Fest' is a family friendly affair so there were plenty of children to see the beetle chase which gave us an opportunity to talk with the parents about bees.
A VBBV member called about needing a mated queen and Steve Jones said he did not have any more. So that fact along with the cooler weather and the end of golden rod season are good indicators that mr frosty will soon be here. By the way, there is a type of golden rod about 10 feet tall over at AREC and a large bed of asters which the 7 hives of bees on campus are using as a food source.
Here are two commercial beekeepers who put out lots of videos on "how to work with bees" which I enjoy watching. One guy calls himself the Don the Fat Beeman and the other one says he is Joe May the Skinny beeman. When you see them you will smile. Their most recent videos have many personalized short cuts and up-to-date information that you can trust and use.
The weather forecast is for continued high heat. Usually, we get a cool front during September, which is the tipping point for fall weather to move in.
While the heat is still on, if you have not done so, please read my August suggestions for varroa treatment. There is still time to significantly reduce varroa populations, which allows more winter bees to develop their fat storage. September and October are key months for winter bees to form. If you have small hive beetle problems, keep fighting to keep them under control. See a suppliers catalog for various ways to trap them.
I attended three days of EAS along with over 700 other beekeepers. Yes! The conference was a big deal in the beekeeping world! I sat in many lectures given by folks from faraway places. One talk by a Vermont commercial beekeeper suggested the importance of checking honey storage on your hives right now. He has to feed and leave about 95 pounds of food on because of the long winters. He harvests about 100 pounds of honey per hive and tries to keep 1,000 hives going.
Without ample food, our bees will sharply reduce raising brood which will reduce winter bee production. When I checked my hives, one had about 45 pounds of honey, one had about 5 pounds (Not a typo they were near starvation!) and the others had about 25 pounds. Sugar is about thirty three cents per pound and except for the heavy hive, my bees are now taking down a gallon of syrup per hive per day. I will check again on 9/2/18. The foragers are flying but, apparently, there is very little nectar available near my backyard.
While at EAS I talked with our local state bee inspector who said he will come and check out hives with unusual problems. So there is always optimism for our bees to survive.
What is hot in August besides the temperature?
All the honey in your hives is nice and hot which makes for easy flowing as you harvest it. You may need some room for the fall flow so empty enough frames for the bees to refill. If you have not harvested this year, you could do your full harvest this month. If you don't have any honey in the hive, you need to start feeding now to build up to over 30 pounds of capped food. Use 1 to 1 now and switch to 2 to 1 starting September first.
It is still really hot but August is the first month that winter bees will start to emerge. About 10% or so of the late August hatch will be winter bees. The rest will be produced during September, October, and November. They don't all suddenly emerge ... it is a process. The process is damaged by varroa mites and other stress within the hive.
If you want your hives to survive the cold winter, healthy winter bees are essential! Therefore, you must do a varroa assessment NOW. Use a sticky board or a powder or alcohol roll to check the mite load. Then get hold of a nice new vaporizer from VBBC and do three weekly treatments to knock the count down. If you need help with the process, several of the club members have treated with Oxalic acid vapor and can guide you. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Of course, there are many internet videos showing how to get a reasonable varroa estimation count and how to use a vaporizer or other treatment methods. So Google several videos so as to compare them and make sure you get reasonably good information. This is the time of year when vorroa populations can really hit high levels.
Go for good bee health,