A bit of gloom

A wet Saturday afternoon. The first fire of the season in the woodstove. The perfect time to reflect on the past season and think about things that can still be done for the bees this season.

I spent some time in my Russian yard at Beech Hill Farm yesterday. With the exception of one hive populations were very low – though I didn’t see an obvious disease signs. Queens were still present, some brood, and it was a healthy pearly white in appearance. No signs of Deformed Wing Virus or other nasties. As these bees are of Russian lineage and I have no intention of treating them for mites, I did not do any mite sampling.

The colonies are light on stores too. I combined a few colonies and dispersed 8 gallons of 2:1 sugar syrup in 1 gallon paint cans. The cans were inverted on the top bars of the colonies being fed. Nail holes are punched in the lid for the bees to feed from. I used all the syrup I had with me and need to go back with more. All my cans are in use so I’ll have to wait for some to be emptied. I should have some by the end of next week and be ready for another visit to the yard.

I wish I had paid more timely attention to this yard. The bees are located on a farm and there were plenty of nectar sources. No surplus honey was removed from this yard.

Several years ago the state Apiarist visited this yard and detected virus (Sac brood) and Nosema issues. In aspiring to have this be a treatment free yard I have to understand that sometimes the bees are not going to survive what ails them. I still can want them to thrive and produce a nice (surplus) crop of honey next summer – but first I need to get the bees through next winter and spring.

The yard will get wrapped towards the end of October. Until then I’ll keep giving them feed and weigh each hive to determine how much feed they need. I hope to come out of the coming winter with five strong colonies

No one remotely promised that going treatment free would be free of pain. The Russian bees are supposed to be able to co-exist to a certain extent with the Varroa Mite but that doesn’t mean they shrug off other maladies too.

So on this first day where it really feels like fall, this yard has me feeling blue.