My honeybees have been busy bees this autumn. They’re all over the fall blooming perennials like Goldeneye, Viguiera dentata,
...and Frostweed, Verbesina virginica.
And let’s not forget how much the honeybees (and everyone else, it seems) work the Blue Mistflower, Conoclinium coelestinum.
As well, honeybees adore the blooms of Coral Vine, Antigonon leptopus.
When I walk into the back garden, day or night, the fragrance of honey drifts from my hives. Mmmm. Breathe deep. That honey-strong fragrance indicates that there is a honey flow happening and it’s been going on for a while. Honey flow occurs when there are blooms galore and plenty of nectar to gather and honey is busily bee-ing made.
Mufasa has been the weaker of the two hives, but its two boxes were also full of comb and honey and ready for a third box. So we prepared another set of top bars for Mufasa’s third box. We melted down some frozen comb from the July honey extraction,
…to add to the bars. This little track of wax will help the girls start their comb-building.
Before adding the third box to Mufasa, we sneaked a peek to assure that all is well. The comb in Mufasa’s second box is heavy with honey and larvae.
…not neat, tidy and vertical comb aligned with the bars as it’s supposed to be.
This, dear readers, is an example of poor beekeeping management. In early September, while checking Mufasa, one of the combs broke off of the bar. Unfortunately with the Warre type hives that we built, this easily happens. I made the beekeeper’s executive decision to place the broken comb back into the box, as best I could, rather than removing the comb and the honey. If it was earlier in the growing season, I would have removed the comb and extracted honey and the bees would simply rebuild–after all, that’s what they do. But the latest broken comb incident occurred late in our growing season and I didn’t want to take honey from the bees. So, I dropped the comb in, knowing that they wouldn’t repair it as perfectly as it was originally built. Given that our beekeeping goals are not so much about the production of honey for us, but for the bees themselves, it’s a reasonable decision to make.
Assuming our hives survive winter, my best amateur guess is that there will be honey left over and we’ll extract it then, along with the wonky comb. With our Warre hives, when we take honey, we have to take comb too, as there is no straightforward way to extract the honey without crushing the comb. It’s simply how the design works. Next spring, the hive will have the whole growing season to rebuild and restock their honey stores.
We added the third floor to Mufasa a couple of weeks ago and when recently checked, the bees completed two bars with comb and honey. That’s fine and expected; they’ll build more comb over time.
I’ve continued observing a few Small Hive beetles in both hives, which you can read about here, but not many and not every time I check. When I opened Mufasa this past week, I saw and killed what looked like two Wax Moth larvae. Well, I knew they would invade eventually. I opened both hives and didn’t see any webbing that is indicative of a mass infestation of the Wax Comb moth. Whoop! But I am popping Mufasa’s top off most days to check–just in case. In one of the articles I read about the Wax Comb moth, the author suggested that if the beekeeper kills the moth larvae, then drops the dead larvae into the hive, it teaches the bees to kill the larvae as invaders. I have my doubts about that particular management practice, but that’s what I did–not because I’d read to do that, but because I was grossed out and offended to see the two larvae crawling along Mufasa’s hive.
Bee Mama is protective of her little bees.
We’ll thoroughly check both hives at least one more time before true winter sets in. Both hives have plenty of honey stores (fingers crossed) for the winter and we’ll see how they fare.
….and being bees.