Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Deep down in Katrian's Drone Den
It is a busy week for me. With almost 15 gallons of honey to harvest I have to rearrange my canning schedule. The last two week of August, when I usually start my canning routine will be completely consumed with the honey harvest. So in addition to trying to get down to check on the bees I am in full gear with the caner and over my head in tomatoes. But I love it. There isn't much work to do in the bee yard per say but we do need to inventory the hives so we can plan for overwintering.
I've heard rumblings of a goldenrod nectar flow. Can I just say if indeed there is any goldenrod nectar coming in I am glad we pulled our frames early. Goldenrod honey sticks like wet sweat socks. As far as I am concerned the bees can keep that nectar for themselves. Driving down, I did notice the the yellow bloom along the ditches but I also noticed plows out mowing the ditches depriving the bees of any last minute sources of nectar from the goldenrod. I know, the ditches are an eye sore, people are allergic . . . but seriously people the bees need the pollen and the nectar even if it is stinky! My hives don't smell and my bees are angry as all get out so I don't think they are bringing in any goldenrod at all.
Paula is out of town this week so our back-up beekeeper Colleen came along. Colleen is a good worker and fearless. August can be a hard month to inspect the bees. When the nectar flow stops and beekeepers are taking honey the bees go into a guarding mode. They are very aggressive and difficult to deal with. Since we have pulled as much honey as we are going to take the inspections now are to determine what honey stores are in each hive and where we need to move honey to for wintering.
On this particular visit I wanted to go deep into Katrina's Drone Den and see what kind of stores she has and try and spot her queen. The bees were very agitated and annoyed with our snooping and somewhat combative against our helmets and veils. I get a little uneasy when they are like this, recalling the 15 stings I got last August. I don't need another National Geographic Photo op!
We made our way all the way to the bottom brood box. Three queen cells, lots of brood, no queen sighting and maybe two frames of honey. I was looking for a marked queen which was probably narrow minded, maybe this was the hive that swarmed back in June and re-queened herself. I went ahead and removed the queen cells and a tuns of really crazy comb and brood formations off the frames. I will admit, I was a little careless. The hive appears to be queen right, has plenty of room and obviously not enough honey for winter. I am not sure what the queen cups are all about and I hope we are not headed for a late summer swarm. Regardless we will have to raid either Crazy Comb or The Turquoise Bee and move some frames of honey over if we want to over winter these girls. I guess we were a little greedy in our harvesting.
Next week we will do the same in Colleen's Royal Ruckus, go deep and assess her honey stores. We saw her queen last week so it will really just be a matter of determining how much honey she has and needs.
After that I'd like to think about combining Mr. Abbott with one of the two hives we are going to overwinter. She just isn't mounting any sort of population and without any honey her bees starve to death over the winter. Might as well strengthen another hive rather than loose the bees. It would me sacrificing a queen however and god knows I hate that!
The hard work will be getting to the bottom of Crazy Comb and the Turquoise Bee at just the right time to take honey from them for the other hives without creating a situation for robbing. We will have to think that one through.