My friend Tom keeps reminding me of the last time I updated the blog - it was September 6. So it's been a little over a month.
I had a chance to do a couple of inspections the last couple of weeks. On Saturday 9/25 I checked out the hives in my backyard. It was nice to spend some time arm deep in bees - it had been too long, and it really felt good to get back in (strange as that may sound). I'm going to have to come up with a better way of documenting what I see in the hives, as I can't remember hive to hive what needs to happen, and just taking pictures sometimes doesn't do it. But I did take lots of pictures for this post!
This was the hive I did not put sugar syrup on. I wanted to see if the hive would collect any honey, as they had a start last month. Well this time I found something very interesting.
The hive had filled the top super with nectar, but hardly any of it was capped, as you can see in this picture (look at the shiny syrup in the open cells):
To further add to my confusion,I found a lot of uncapped nectar in the next super down (the medium, which was being used for brood).
Now, the optimist in me says, "yea!" the bees are doing what they are supposed to do. But then I remembered that early in the month I put sugar syrup feed on the other two hives, and it is possible that the bees from the pink hive went to the other hive and stole some sugar. But I really haven't seen any evidence of robbing - no nervous bees, no bees crawling in the access hole, etc. Adding to this thought is the fact that up until now, this hive hasn't put away much nectar, and now a bounty? Suspicious.
I'm going to let them continue to work on the super, since they are soooooo close to capping it off. We've had a bunch of rain in the past week, so it could be they haven't done much. I'll check this weekend.
I also saw the queen in the pink hive - it's been a while. Look along the bottom wooden part of the frame:
And here's a good shot of some brood in the hive. Nice pattern:
And a good number of bees on top of the bars of the lower box:
And more good patterns in the bottom box:
You can tell I like taking pictures of the bees! This hive is the one I have the most hope for coming through the winter.
The bees in the brown hive are doing a great job putting away the sugar syrup I have been feeding them:
You can see a good crown of capped "honey" with the nectar in the middle (with pollen) still to be capped. Good brood pattern in this hive as well:
The Green Hive also is putting away syrup for the winter. You can see the food along the edge of this frame, with brood in the center:
And I saw the queen in this hive too - I haven't seen her since I did the combine to create this hive:
Last Saturday I also got a chance to go out to the Sutton hives. It has been even longer since I visited these hives - clear back on 8/13.
Sutton Hive #2
This was the hive started this year from a Nuc. I had a difficult time prying up the top inner cover - the bees had attached it with a lot of propolis, and connected it with a stiff wax (which I think was mixed with a lot of propolis, as it was very stiff). In this next picture, look along the top and bottom edges at all the propolis, and you can see the wax on the top bars:
They had also added a lot of propolis along the side of the frames under the frame rest, so I did a lot of scraping (almost chipping) to get the frames out. I accidentally broke one the of the frames trying to lift it out. It was full of honey, so I just put it back, after marking it with a paint pen so the spring I can swap it out.
Here is what I found in the hive, a large frame of capped honey:
But I am not fooled in this instance - I know this is probably sugar syrup mixed with honey, since early in the summer I fed this hive a lot of sugar. They put it away nicely. Generally I don't like messing with the "honey" in the brood boxes since you can't be sure that it is honey (especially if you feed).
I did a frame-by-frame inspection of this hive, and saw lots of good brood:
I didn't see the queen, but saw lots of young larvae so I know she is there.
There was a medium super of undrawn foundation on the hive, which I took off, since the bees had done absolutely nothing with it.
I put a bucket of feed on this hive; it looks good for the winter.
Sutton Hive #1
When I stole the honey from this hive, there were some frames which hadn't been capped which I left on the hive. I also put on some empty frames to see what they would do. All told, there was one medium super (with undrawn frames), and two shallow supers (with drawn frames). I checked, and here is what I found:
Since I was going to start the winter feeding, I pulled off all of the frames. There were about 8 total frames with something in them; every side had capped honey except for two sides (which contained uncapped honey). I will extract all of the capped honey, and leave the unfinished honey in the frame, so when I set them out for the bees to clean, they will reclaim the nectar.
Here's a nice shot of the Sutton hives, looking good for the winter: