TBH Week 33: Well into Autumn
I still see the occasional bee, but traffic at the waterer is way down. We're enjoying a burst of warm weather – it was 71F here in the Carolina Piedmont this afternoon – but weather will be back into the 50s and low 60s soon.
I got into the hive briefly two weeks ago to swap Formic Pro strips. Pinning the strip onto a side wall worked well, and the colony tolerated option 2 dosing (one at a time, each for 10 days) just fine. No excessive bee kills that I can tell.
Unfortunately, I did find one undersized worker with what I'm pretty sure is DWV. Another worker was frog-walking her out of the hive. I was glad to see the hygienic behavior.
Otherwise, the bees were active and well behaved. The drones are finally all gone. As far as I could tell, there was never a mass drone purge – they mostly just dwindled. Workers came out today to say Hi, but I never felt the need to use the smoker past an opening couple of puffs.
On the SHB front, there was carnage. They're moving more slowly now and so are easier to pick off, thank goodness. I found one larva under the Beetle Barn, underscoring my ambivalence for leave-in traps: one hive's trap might be another hive's SHB refuge. Next season, I'll focus more on a more attractive but still deadly bait.
For ventilation, I'd removed the mouse guard during the Formic Pro treatment, but it went back on today. Coincidentally, my husband found a mouse nosing around the garage, so I'll keep this timing in mind for next year.
I moved one more empty comb to the deep freeze. Here's what the colony looks like now; I'll revisit after the first of the year to analyze what worked and what didn't:
1: Vacant, but bees are hanging out on it, so I left it in.
2, 3: Very light, capped food < 10%
4 – 8: Light, capped and uncapped food < 50%
9, 10: Light, capped and uncapped food < 30%, capped brood < 5%
11 – 14: Heavy, capped and uncapped food < 90%
To keep the bees from raiding stores, I went ahead and fed 2:1 Red syrup. I'm not expecting to be able to get into the hive for much longer before the weather turns bad. It's been a great first year – lots of ups and downs – and my next goal is to keep the bees alive until the next season starts in mid to late January.