It’s that time, time to reduce the size of the beehive stacks in preparation for winter, and steal their honey.
I hate it.
I don’t like taking their honey, and I don’t like the degree of disruption it causes, nor the death. In the process of taking the hives all apart, robber bees come from the other hives and there are disputes and battles to the death. Bees are very good at killing each other and the bee bodies pile up. I don’t know how to mitigate this yet.
It has to be done, though. The hives need to be in a compact space packed with full frames of honey for the winter. It’s not heat efficient to be in a silo.
Pansy:Late afternoon, not finished sorting frames, and a bridge for the bees to get back to their door.They aren’t interested in going home though, they are in a frenzy of emergency cleanup operation, trying to save the honey that is suddenly outside their house. It’s mayhem.
After taking the frames I’m keeping and sweeping them free of bees (time consuming, multi-stage process), they had three partials to clean up and move the honey back inside. They will probably be at that most of today.
Pansy has the most vitality of the hives. Despite swarming twice (and I lost one), she has been reproducing like crazy and building fast. Marigold and Sunflower, this year’s swarm/split hives, all done. They adjusted well, minimal death. Marigold is maybe a little frustrated, bearding on the front like they don’t have enough space (they do), and they aren’t letting go of that completely empty frame yet, even at night.
Three down, one to go:I saved the doozy for last.
Today I get into the skyscraper. This is Violet, my oldest hive, who has never swarmed (I split her to Sunflower this year). Pansy is swarmy, Violet refuses, no matter how big she gets. She’s also a bit crankier than the other three hives, less patience. I expect she’ll winter in three supers, but I guess I’ll find out today.
The weather is perfect this week, warm enough at night for bees caught outside on salvage missions to survive. The long term forecast says this is my last chance. Now the bees will be contracting, working closer to home on final stockpiling, and producing their last brood for their winter population. I hope there’s a warm spell in October too, but you never know anymore.