Yesterday, I zipped up my bee suit over my work suit which I wore over a pair of leggings and a fleece and covered with a down coat. I looked like a marshmallow. But the bees didn't seem to care. Most of them were a little sleepy from the cold.
I had to psych myself up for the activity -- 37 degrees and 13 hives behind two electric fences. I gathered up my tools and trudged out to the bee field in my Gator (handy little device that it is) to inspect the hives, to retrieve the supers and to begin the hives' preparation for winter. Here is what I found.
First the bad news: Two hives were infested with moths and moth larvae. Gross. All or pretty much all of the white, segmented worms were dead (thank goodness) and the hives were completely demolished. To be honest, it made me want to wretch. And when I showed my neighbor (who comes around to visit, especially when it looks like I might get into trouble -- read: entertainment value) he agreed. I removed the infested hives, washed and salvaged what I could and then deep sixed the rest. Buh-bye.
Since I found the two dead hives first, I started to worry, but the 11 other hives were fine. Some were stronger than others, yes, but all of them have bees and plenty of honey for the winter.
Now is the time that the bees, with the supers removed, can work to fill up every little hole in their hive with wax and honey. Since there's no nectar in the fields, I gave them a very high sugar, low water syrup that will enable them to make honey faster without having to waste energy flapping their wings too much. Did you know that bees flutter their wings to evaporate the water in the nectar to make it into sticky sweet honey? They do. It's pretty cool.
So, the good news, you ask? Five bursting with honey supers! Beautiful golden honey! This is 50 frames -- give or take -- 20 frames more than we harvested last year!
Finally, I added a little reducer bar to the front door of each hive to help protect against cold and weather and predators (like icky moths) getting in. Next up, hive covers, adding some solid winter food and spacers and then crossing my fingers. You should too.
XOXO Farm Girl
PS Beezin' is actually a thing. You might not want to know this, but some people like to put Burt's Bees peppermint lip balm on their eyelids which they claim gives them a drunk-like high. There are YouTube tutorials. I don't recommend it, but if you do it, let me know.