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.

3 thoughts on “A bit of gloom

  1. Hi Andrew.
    I am interested in how those Russians work out. I enquired about them here earlier this year and was advised by those that had tried them locally that they were so swarmy they gave up. However who knows, whatever strain that was may be different from yours.

    So far with my 3 first year colonies (all started from nucs) I have no varroa issues. These are ‘local’ Carniolans. I am trying to manage robbing in one hive, which has become weakened more than I would like. The other two are doing well, having tapped into a good late flow.

    Upper Kingsclear

    • I did make and use this feeder and thugroh this I have some new questions: 1) based on this design, the entrance to hive is blocked by the feeder. Your instructions do not address bee hive entrance with use of this hive. How do you deal with it? I ended up just leaving the trough/drawer slightly open. Only thing is that you end up with two entrances this way if you pull that drawer out evenly. So anyone else use this feeder and can tell me how they dealt with it? BTW, I didn’t so far have any ant problem.2) the instructions don’t mention how to ensure the feeder is leak proof. I highly recommend that one melts bees wax along all the wood joints to seal any openings/cracks in joints. Then I highly recommend that you test it for being leakproof by adding liquid to it, like water and seeing if it leaks after a time. Otherwise you may well have a mess out at the apiary. 3) when do you take this off? and what do you do for winter feeding if it’s necessary? or do you leave this on all year? you call it a spring/summer feeder so I am assuming you use another system for fall/winter? please elaborate, or if someone else out there uses something else for feeding in winter or spring, I would love to hear about it. Thanks.

  2. Hi, Marika,I built a spring feeedr too. My requeened laying worker hive was really low on foragers. They were queenless quite awhile before I discovered it, so foragers were dying off before the new ones were old enough to take over.This feeedr doesn’t block the hive entrance. I believe you’ve got it on backwards. The drawer should slide out in the BACK of the hive. This is really handy, since you don’t have to venture into the flight path to fill the feeedr. I don’t even wear a veil while filling it, because the bees really don’t mind.I have windows in the hive with the feeedr on it. I’ll try to post some pictures soon of the bees feeding from the feeedr.I have had ants extremely interested in the hive since I put on the feeedr so much so that they built a nest in the quilt! What a mess. They were shoving sawdust out of the quilt (that’s how I found them) and filling the space with eggs. I dumped the whole thing and replaced the quilt contents with red cedar sawdust. The ants don’t like it, but it doesn’t seem to bother the bees at all. (The other Warre hive already had cedar in the quilt.)I will take off my feeedr when they no longer need it. Warre describes a top feeedr for fall/winter in Beekeeping for All, but I haven’t studied that one yet.

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