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Discussion Starter #181
Bees were out flying today and surprised to see no yellow jackets. From external activity it appears 3 hives are doing Okay.

Spent the afternoon outdoors in the nice weather. Mowed up leaves and buried them in the garden. Dig a trench 2-3 feet deep, dump in leaves until full, then cap with an inch or two of dirt. Repeat. By spring the mounds will have pretty much sunk back to ground level. A 3' layer of leaves ends up a 1" layer of leaves by next fall. Been doing this for nearly a decade and the soil is finally starting to look like topsoil. The builder strip-mined the topsoil so it is nothing but hard clay on my lawn.

Found a spoon. It must have got dumped out with the kitchen garbage sometime in the last few years. I felt like Schliemann digging up Troy.
 

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Found a spoon. It must have got dumped out with the kitchen garbage sometime in the last few years.
Had the same thing happen to me.
 

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Discussion Starter #183
Opened up another presumed dead hive. Yep. A few lethargic bees left. Lots of dead yellow jackets on the floor. Also some small hive beetles and mites. Not as many mites on the floor as I had expected. There is some capped brood left, so I will open those up and see how badly infected the final generation was. This hive had oxalic acid towels on, so mites may not have been a major part of their doom, but the brood will tell more. Surprised to see some capped honey and lots of nectar-filled comb.

The bees at the farm appeared active today, lots of activity at the entrances. As soon as I get some sugar cakes hardened I will add insulated tops and set them up for winter. Temps were up to 70 today! Harvested lettuce and greens today.
 

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Bees were out flying today and surprised to see no yellow jackets. From external activity it appears 3 hives are doing Okay.

Spent the afternoon outdoors in the nice weather. Mowed up leaves and buried them in the garden. Dig a trench 2-3 feet deep, dump in leaves until full, then cap with an inch or two of dirt. Repeat. By spring the mounds will have pretty much sunk back to ground level. A 3' layer of leaves ends up a 1" layer of leaves by next fall. Been doing this for nearly a decade and the soil is finally starting to look like topsoil. The builder strip-mined the topsoil so it is nothing but hard clay on my lawn.

Found a spoon. It must have got dumped out with the kitchen garbage sometime in the last few years. I felt like Schliemann digging up Troy.
Just a suggestion; I also have a garden that was mostly clay with poor topsoil....when I moved in a long time ago. I had a compost pile going adding maple leaves in the fall, and kept putting that in the garden. The big change in soil happened when I tilled in a fair amount of sand. The sand helped disperse the clay. I now have 12-16 inches of good topsoil. At least I can't till deep enough to see clay anymore. I also tilled in a fair amount of charcoal from burning wood, and ash from the same. The charcoal boosts microbe populations.
 

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Discussion Starter #185
Just a suggestion; I also have a garden that was mostly clay with poor topsoil....when I moved in a long time ago. I had a compost pile going adding maple leaves in the fall, and kept putting that in the garden. The big change in soil happened when I tilled in a fair amount of sand. The sand helped disperse the clay. I now have 12-16 inches of good topsoil. At least I can't till deep enough to see clay anymore. I also tilled in a fair amount of charcoal from burning wood, and ash from the same. The charcoal boosts microbe populations.
I also use a lot of charcoal/ash from the fireplace. We burn most nights from Nov-March. Also I recycle all the kitchen waste and a lot of our paper waste. It all adds up. I should get a load of sand, but have not gotten around to it. Been thinking about that for a few years.

It has been very warm this last week. This morning I even used the air conditioning in the car while driving home from work! In November! Some years it is feet deep in snow at this time. The bees seem happy, still gathering pollen from somewhere. Yellow Jackets still around but in smaller numbers. They seem dopy now and I easily smashed several with my finger this morning. Harvested a small amount of honey from a dead hive.
 

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Discussion Starter #186
Down to 4 hives alive. Opened up one that had been badly harassed by yellow jackets to find it lifeless. In a very similar pattern to the other dead one, there were only a tiny number of dead bees in the hive, a few dozen, and no queen to be found. However, there was, in both hives, a patch of dead brood centered in the frame where the dead bees were.

What I suspect happened is that the yellow jackets killed and carried off many of the young bees, until eventually there were not enough left keep the hive going. There was a small amount of honey left in both hives, and signs that the YJs were gnawing at it. Several dead YJs in both hives. Ultimately unsuccessful but happy to see they put up a fight.

Both hives had shop towel oxalic acid, and I found few mites on the floors. The bees appeared healthy with no wrinkled wings. Mites may have been what weakened the hives enough to leave them vulnerable to YJs, but don't appear to be what killed them.

Popped the tops on two living hives, just to verify they are alive, did not dig in deeply to see how well-populated they are. At this point it doesn't matter. They will live or not and not much will make a difference. Both have some sugar cake and will get more later. Both have insulation on top. I got a covid vaccination from one hive, so that's good. ;-). Found a very large living yellow jacket under the insulation on one hive. A queen, hibernating for the winter? She chose badly!
 

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AR1:

I am sincerely sorry to hear about your bee woes. While I see yellowjackets around hives around here, it sounds like you are dealing with a full-on assault. Based on your trapping and entrance-modification efforts this year, do you feel like you have a good control strategy for next year?
 
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