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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Second season winding down

    Today was a nice enough day that I took the opportunity to open three of my five nucs to do some minor season end things. I had noticed through the observation window that the pollen patty in one was starting to mold so I planned to take that out and also do a bar shift in two of the nucs so that at the end of the season the cluster in both will take advantage of each other's warmth.

    A few weeks ago I did a mite check using the detergent wash method on all of my nucs. The results were mixed (2 bad, 2 good, 1 borderline) but now I know what they are and will see how they all do. When I did the check I was able to find only two of the queens so my fingers were crossed that I didn't get them in the tests. I counted each bee so hoped I would have noticed the queen if I got one but still have been a bit nervous about it. This in mind, on my nuc that tested borderline but has my best dispositioned bees I went through the hive and looked for her highness. I went through and saw only a handfull of emerging brood and no larvae or eggs and didn't see the queen. Uh Oh! My heart sank. Did I kill her? The cells in the brood nest were shiny like they had prepared them for eggs so I carefully went back through all the bars and on the second to last in the brood nest...YAY!! There she was, plump and fit. Hurrah! I gave them back their pollen patty (because they didn't seem to want to give it up and they didn't have very much pollen stored), shifted the bars so that the empty was at the entrance and the last full comb at the solid follower, then closed up. This hive body has three nucs in it, filling up almost every bar in the hive. The one I was just inspecting is the one in the center, the one to the right of it has the entrance situated so that when I shift the one empty bar to the entrance end of the hive the honey combs are adjacent to the solid follower that divides the nucs.

    The nuc on the right of that hive body is the one that had some white mold growing on the pollen patty. I went in to take it out but the bees were busy on the part of it that didn't have mold so in the end I removed the moldy parts, reopened another entrance hole to give them better ventilation, and let them have it. I moved it to the front of the hive near the entrance holes (where they keep most of their bee bread and where it should get better air circulation) and shifted the bars toward the back of the hive like I intended.

    The other nuc that I looked into was the one that had the best mite count. I hadn't found the queen in it when I did the mite count either but since those bees were a little more defensive and I wasn't using my smoker I didn't disturb the hive other than to check their pollen patty. They had eaten about half and were on it so I left it and closed back up. In this nuc I was a bit more conservative taking my bee sample so I am hopeful the queen is in there and fine.

    All the nucs are dramatically different from last year's. Last year I battled newbie mistakes and ignorance, a drought, heatwave, poorly laying queen, wax worms, SHB and ended the year with weak hives that didn't make it to spring. I started over with a package at the beginning of April and while I did lose a swarm from it I was able to build it into 5 nucs. I do have one that is weaker than the others (it and the nuc in my original hive have high mite loads so probably won't make it through) but I have three that look really good. The one in the original hive has the highest mite count but they also have the most honey, the others have a bar per each bar in the brood nest plus a good band on each brood bar. I still debate making candy bars for them just in case but for now I am going to see how they do. I will keep an eye on the pollen patties to make sure SHB don't get in them and they don't get moldy. The cold weather that is coming this week should knock back the SHB threat so hopefully they will be fine. Unless I need to take them out or feed them today was my last day in the nucs for the year. I will probably put some insulation over the observation windows and over the top bars but that should be it for winter prep.

    To a good winter and bees that make it through and make some surplus honey next year!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Josephine County,Oregon,USA
    Posts
    141

    Default Re: Second season winding down

    Hi Colleen
    Thank you for sharing your experiences and comparing your first and second year saying how you did things differently. For my first year I've made wrong choices (for the nature of my Carniolans) in key time periods,had crowding,drought,heatwave followed by a fairly early freeze and warm days after, and a queen(and maybe her daughter too) TOO productive for the size of my hive--with me having no nucs ready the first time and no warning or sighting if they did indeed swarm again.I don't think my bees will make it this winter, although they have lots of stores. I believe now(not at first)a very Very late doomed swarm left in October. It looked SO perfect in the hive (for them to naturally reduce) just before that I'd finally stopped worrying:HA! At first I thought they had clustered for the early cold nights and mornings we had, but now it looks like they are dwindling to nothing.I just haven't wanted to get in there because If there IS brood I know I'd chill them in no time...sigh. Now I'm watching on sunny days the few fliers left and thinking I'm ready for giving up and saving all that comb and honey in there OR lifting a near-front bar to SEE-no matter what. I'm just not sure if they Are in there and just Away from the window.....got a bad feeling though. Like you were I'm not crushed,I'm eager to start over and do better! A lot of nucs IS a great "insurance policy" isn't it. Thanks again for your sharing. HB

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: Second season winding down

    Hi HappyBeeing! That is too bad about your hive. I hope they surprise you and make it! I was going to ask you some questions about it but remembered you are on the overwintering challenge spreadsheet so I checked that and it answered a bit. Looks like you treated for mites so they didn't leave due to that. Do you plan on building another hive or a nuc this winter?

    Do you have a solid follower for your hive? When I needed to make an emergency split I used mine to section the hive. I do have two nucs but one was already in use and the other was out at a friends house (was trying to catch a swarm). The nuc with 8 bars is just too small anyway. This winter I hope to build a new hive that has a built-in nuc on the end plus another regular nuc.

    I decided to go with the nucs this year for several reasons, most have to do with the treatment free path I am on. I wanted to get some Buckfast queens and with the shipping and importation fees I wanted to get five. When I look at the average losses for treatment free plus factoring in that I might lose one from installation I hoped to end up with two in the spring. I did lose one due to a push-in cage failure during installation so for now I have four. The other nuc has the queen from that emergency split I mentioned. I'm REALLY glad I did that because that queen runs the nuc with the lowest mite count. She is the only one I kept from the package daughter queens. Even before the mite testing I noticed some beneficial traits in her nuc bees.

    When my two hives (nuc size really) died out this past spring I left the comb in them. It was okay while it was cold but when it warmed up the local bees were having a feeding frenzy in the one that dwindled (still had a tiny bit of honey left in it). I took that honeycomb out and froze it until I got my package a month later. You may want to keep that in mind if yours doesn't make it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Josephine County,Oregon,USA
    Posts
    141

    Default Re: Second season winding down

    Hi Again
    Yes I'll have an empty new (longer) top bar And an empty nuc for next Spring. Either way (if these make it or not) I'm getting a new package for the new hive and intend on splitting that back to my first hive if they build up and if it's empty. Ha. So many "ifs"! Carniolans go gangbusters here (at least in This years conditions) so I'll be all ready to split too! IF I still think I can't keep them going next year-or lose a queen- I'll switch straight to a guy that raises "survivors" 100 miles from here. I may switch out my new queen after a couple of months to one of those Anyway because I'd like to be treatment free too.His bees have a great reputation. I'd like to try to catch a local swarm sometime as well, but heck,"local" could just be escapees from someone's package so the "survivor" queen idea comes first! Yes,I'll keep an intense Watch on those combs I have now!!! All the best to you! HB

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: Second season winding down

    We had a warm (around 58F) sunny day today and the bees were flying. It was nice to see them out and about. They were bringing their dead out but there weren't so many as to make me alarmed. I peeked through the window and saw the one nuc working on eating their bee fudge. It looked like it had a little moisture on the surface and they had their tongues out sucking it right up.

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