TBH Week 15: Finally, Some Food Stores and a Field Day
The colony has apparently crested: less brood, more net food deposition, and a significant drop in comb building, despite feeding. Population is still high, but I'm fretting less about the bees overrunning their home. I'm also quite happy with 16 good-sized combs and one small one.
To feed their population explosion weeks ago, the bees had severely depleted their pollen stores. They now have more than I've ever seen – about one comb's worth. In addition, the pollen is more consolidated, rather than sprinkled fast-food style across many combs.
After an early glut, nectar/syrup stores were depleted during the colony's comb building spree. They are now finally being built up again, which is a relief! At one point, the bees were down to only one comb of nectar/syrup plus a few bits here and there. This week, I was surprised to see bits of my blue syrup on only two combs, so they must be foraging modest sources of nectar despite the dearth that everyone's talking about in my neck of the woods. This finding also implies that they're consuming the bulk of the blue syrup themselves, at least so far. I'll keep an eye on it.
I was able to attend my first local field day today since I installed the package and Covid-19 struck. I learned a few things to improve my sugar shake technique: swirl, don't shake up and down; let the jar rest in the shade for 3-5 minutes; then swirl one last time. I also asked the presiding inspector questions about the calendar around my area for winterizing prep. My date to aim for is now October 15.
Question: I'm seeing the bees start to consolidate more than they have previously. Something I'll need to do in the coming weeks is reintroduce the follower board and contract the active hive area back down as the population declines from summer too winter levels. Part of that could be rearranging combs to better support the bees' clustering around remaining brood and traversing food stores over the winter. Should I plan to do so in September or take a hands-off approach that assumes that the bees will move everything where it needs to be? Let me know what you think!