Saturday (2 days ago) I performed the pre-winter maintenance on the hives in my backyard. Since I took today as a vacation day, I decided to do the same for the hives in Sutton. I hadn't been out there since (gasp!) the first week of August! It seems the frequency of my visits is about 2 months. But the bees don't seem to mind (almost as if they know what they need to do without my intervention, right Tom?).
I got there around 4:30PM, a little later than I would have liked, but still plenty of light. I pried up the top inner cover on the right hive, and this is what I saw:
You can see all that goopy stringy brown stuff - propolis. It's a type of "bee glue" they use for many things, but especially for filling in places that are narrow. These bees are italians from Georgia, and they (the italians) are known for how much they propolize everything.
When I lifted up the honey super to set it aside, I got a nice surprise - it was actually heavy. What's this? Maybe some honey? I was excited to look. But first I inspected the top brood chamber.
You can see by this picture that there were a good number of bees hanging out. This hive was doing well. They must like the location.
I pulled out a couple of frames from the brood chamber, and this is what I saw:
This is a frame *full* of honey. That's what I like to see! About half of the frames looked like this. These bees are well on their way to preparing for winter - filling the upper chamber with food. I won't have to feed this hive much.
I didn't go into the lower chamber - just took a peek by tilting up the upper brood chamber. Guess what? More bees :-)
Here's what things looked like when I finished my inspection. Messing around with a hive always brings up more bees:
Now I started looking at the honey super. This is what I saw!
Yay! Honey! I used my bee brush and started brushing off the bees (which for some reason they objected to) as I moved the frames to another super (covered with a towel to try to keep out the bees). Maybe one day I will purchase a fume board, but with the few number of hives I have (and the little amount of honey they produce) using a bee brush isn't bad. I wasn't expecting to have to deal with bees in the super, so it took me longer there (and was more work) than I was thinking.
Then I went to inspect the left hive. Again, a heavy honey super, and a good amount of bees on the top of the frames:
Like the other hive, this one put up a bunch of honey in the upper brood chamber. I didn't take a picture of it, but it was a little less than the other hive, but well on the way for winter. Again, for this hive I will not have to feed much.
This hive has a peculiar habit of building brace comb between the upper and lower brood chamber, in all different directions. I used to scrape it off, but they just put it back so I leave it alone now.
Before, there were drone brood in the brace comb. But now they filled it with honey. Here's what the top of the lower brood chamber looks like - the clumps of bees are along the brace comb, and you can see how it zig-zags around.
Again the bees surprised me and put up a bunch of honey in the honey super:
On both hives I put a 2" shim, then an empty medium super (to cover the syrup jars). I didn't have enough of the deep bodies, so I had to make do with these two parts (the medium super is not quite tall enough to cover these jars, so I needed the extra shim).
So the Sutton hives are also ready for winter.
I ended up with 18 frames (two 9-frame honey supers), and I'd estimate there were about 12 frames of capped honey ready for extraction (the other frames are either empty, or had mostly uncapped nectar). Wouldn't you know it? I just did a major cleaning and put-away of my extractor, thinking I wouldn't have to use it any more this season! My youngest son is excited about the prospect of doing more extraction - I'll probably do it this weekend.