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My zucchinis are gone. Froze.
Ditto tomatoes. Harvested some green.
Managed to cover the pole green beans - just got frost bitten but survived.
And now we will have weeks of warm weather yet, just for shame.
At least I expect to harvest more green beans. Still a good crop in progress.
Good thing I have plenty of cool weather veg still going - kale, chard, beets, green onions.
 

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Discussion Starter #162
I am always a bit sad when the summer crops are done. We are eating a watermelon a day (small ones, but still) but as soon as the melons in the garage are done, that's it. Got lots of good seeds for next spring planting...

I have been posting like this, with dates, to help my poor memory.
 

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Discussion Starter #163
Weather report says temps down to 25F and snow coming up later this week. Time to harvest what may be the last tomatoes, and get some insulation on top the hives.

I searched the garden today and found two more watermelons hiding in the weeds at the edge! Happy me.
 

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..... get some insulation on top the hives......
I, in fact, took insulation off everywhere.
A layer of burlap is all they get until later in the season.
 

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Discussion Starter #165
I, in fact, took insulation off everywhere.
A layer of burlap is all they get until later in the season.
Interesting to see what happens. I suspect if they have plenty of food, the insulation is unnecessary. My hives are all pretty light though.
 

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Interesting to see what happens. I suspect if they have plenty of food, the insulation is unnecessary. My hives are all pretty light though.
Not about food, AR.
This is about setting up the cluster strategically before the winter - in the bottom; and keeping it there as long as possible.

September/October - I plugged all entrances but the very bottoms - this is to pull the nests down.
This is how my hives will stay until significant snow hits (then will open some top hole for emergency ventilation/exit).
20201007_144632.jpg

Now as it is getting cool and cold, I want the bees stay low.
Insulating on the top will pull the bees up - they are no fools and shift to the warmest parts as soon as the cold hits.
Entering the winter at the very top is sub-optimal as they never go down again.
 

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This is about setting up the cluster strategically before the winter - in the bottom; and keeping it there as long as possible.

...

Insulating on the top will pull the bees up - they are no fools and shift to the warmest parts as soon as the cold hits.
Entering the winter at the very top is sub-optimal as they never go down again.
GregV:

Good feedback- while I don't know too much, my experience to-date suggests you are on to something here.

How's everything looking for you going into colder weather?
 

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Discussion Starter #168
Not about food, AR.
This is about setting up the cluster strategically before the winter - in the bottom; and keeping it there as long as possible.

Now as it is getting cool and cold, I want the bees stay low.
Insulating on the top will pull the bees up - they are no fools and shift to the warmest parts as soon as the cold hits.
Entering the winter at the very top is sub-optimal as they never go down again.
Yes, makes sense if the hive has stores. Mine are light enough that I will start feeding on top very soon.
 

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Got it.
No stores - no matter.
You want them high.
 

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GregV:

Good feedback- while I don't know too much, my experience to-date suggests you are on to something here.

How's everything looking for you going into colder weather?
Will report soon on the latest.
 

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Discussion Starter #171
Fun with yellow jackets!
Bad this year, seriously weakening several of my hives, even with entrances pinched back to narrow slits.

We have been eating a lot of watermelon recently, and the rinds go into the garden. Turns out yellow jackets LOVE watermelon rind. For several days I have been checking the garden garbage pile every few hours and stomping on clusters of yellow jackets. Probably got a hundred by now. I got a board and have been crushing the singletons with it. It's a mesmerizing activity, hard to stop once you start, and so satisfying.

Oddly, they don't go in the trap I made, with watermelon inside. Maybe got two total.
 

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Discussion Starter #172
Learn something new every year. This year it was how useless it is to try to fix a laying worker colony. I think back to the frames of brood wasted and the queen cells placed. They did finally accept a queen, just in time to get swarmed by yellow jackets. I eventually combined the last remnants with a stronger colony.

Also, how bad yellow jackets can be. In the past have never had these kinds of problems. Of my 6 back yard colonies, 4 are currently under assault and appear weak. I have closely watched the process and noted a few things.

Yellow jackets can fly in much colder, windier weather than honey bees. 40 degrees is fine weather for them. They start flying early on cold mornings and invade the hives when the guard bees are slow and stupid.

Yellow jackets start by killing off the guard bees. Once those are destroyed, they have free access to the hive regardless of how many bees are in the hive. It's a very quick trip downhill for a hive after the guards are dead.

Once the guards are gone, it doesn't matter how small/narrow the entrances are. The yellow jackets will penetrate the hive through a one-bee-sized entrance. Reducing the entrance to a tiny crack is something you do before the yellow jackets get bad.
 

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Also, how bad yellow jackets can be.
While I've not dealt with this, it sure does sound like a difficult problem. Hopefully this year is an anomaly and not a regular occurrence for you.

Best of luck to you in getting your colonies set-up for Winter.

Russ
 

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Discussion Starter #174
While I've not dealt with this, it sure does sound like a difficult problem. Hopefully this year is an anomaly and not a regular occurrence for you.

Best of luck to you in getting your colonies set-up for Winter.

Russ
A month ago I wasn't worried about winter. I had 8 reasonably healthy colonies and figured with some sugar blocks even the ones light on honey would be Okay, like last year. Now I have at best 4 decently strong colonies. We will see...
 

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I used the recipe Randy Oliver posted:
For 10 towels 120 grams oxalic crystals, 100 ml water, 130 ml glycerine.
The water needs to be quite warm in order to dissolve the oxalix. Once dissolved, add warm glycerine. After the towels cool they are distictly moist and only a small amount of the oxalic recrystalizes.

Few of my hives have more than a little honey. No harvest this fall. Time to buy more sugar.
Here is a guy who experimented with a similar method (OA + glycerine), except he just used paper board cut to strips (instead of the towels).
And the treatment results.
It works.
 

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Discussion Starter #176
Looked into my hives today, handed out some sugar cakes.

One dead, three very weak, lots of dead yellow jackets inside the hives. They fought hard but the YJs were just too much for them. The dead one was my original queen that came in a swarm last year, so at least 2 years old and probably 3. The dead one and the 3 weak ones were all strong a few months ago, and very active until a few weeks ago when the YJs got too busy. Doubtless mites also played a significant role, but these hives had gotten oxalic acid towels. No signs of wing virus in any of these hives all year.

All but one have insulated boxes on top. That last one will get a box in a few days when I get time. Weather into the 20s at night the next few days. Will think about and probably combine the weak hives into one.

Can't blame weather this year, it has been just about perfect all year. Next year, assuming any survivors, I will work on spring elimination of YJ queens, and try earlier mite suppression with oxalic acid. Was late with it this year.

Need to check my 2 hives at the farm. They don't get looked into very often, other than to crack the top and peek in. They also need insulated boxed on top, and maybe sugar.

Very disappointing fall, as I now expect several of these very weak hives to fail.
 

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.................
Very disappointing fall, as I now expect several of these very weak hives to fail.
Why not dump the projected failures together?

Pretty soon I need to do a round and see where mine are standing (been a while).
I think I will experiment with dumping together some of my projected low value dead-outs.
What is there to loose?
They normally die of the above average attrition and then freeze to death - I figure if I dump together 3 or 4 zombie hives, they might actually make it? (queens are of low value anyway).
 

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Discussion Starter #178
Yes, that is my thought. Combine all the weak ones together. Or, two weak ones added to one stronger one.
 

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Or, two weak ones added to one stronger one.
Here is where good to know the mite counts.
I would not combine high-mite failures to a strong low-mite unit.

If I don't know the counts, I would not risk a strong unit.
But even then, who is to tell IF that strong unit will still be strong the next 1-2 months.
I have a very strong unit (as of 2-3 weeks ago!) - an actual mite dump.
Will not be surprised if I find them "absconded" on my next check.
 

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Discussion Starter #180
40 degrees, wasps flying. Honey bees out in a protected, sunny location, other hives no activity.
 
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