Saturday, October 8, 2011

Bee Keeping: Getting Ready for Winter

Today was one of those beautiful fall days that makes you forget the cold weather coming.  The sun was shining and the air was clear.  In celebration I put on my bee jacket and went out to take a look at the hives.   Rainy, overcast weather of the past few weeks prevented working with the bees.  To my delight, the bees were doing fine without my supervision. 

I pulled the outer cover off the first hive without difficulty.  The inner cover required prying on two corners before the layer of propylis broke free with a popping sound.  The bees knew what they were doing when they worked so diligently to fill all those nooks and crannies.  I was amazed at the changes in my hive.  What had been an almost vacant top box was now a bustling center of industry.

As I checked each frame I was thrilled to feel the weight and see the evidence of honey production.  Eight of the ten frames were being filled with honey.  Some of the honey was already capped for future use.  Both sides were filled equally.  The bees were working from left to right when facing the front of the hive.  The two last frames on the right were just beginning to see activity.

Rather than trying to pry the top box off the bottom box, I chose to check the top box of my second hive.  Prior to this visit my first hive had been smaller and less active than the second.  With the new burst of energy that the first hive was showing I wanted to see what was happening in hive #2.  Upon opening hive #2 I found a situation very similar to the first hive.  Much of the top box was full of honey.  In fact, some of the frames were overflowing and the bees had begun to add honey comb to the bottom of the frames.  These bees also worked from left to right , facing the hive.  The frames on the far right were somewhat built out but not nearly as full as the center frames.

After lifting out twenty frames and checking both sides my arms were too tired to attempt lifting the entire top box to check the box beneath.  Both top boxes were free of any brood and I'd like to make sure that the box beneath showed that the queen was working as hard as her bees.  I estimated that the box with the frames full of honey weighed about 80 lbs.   Lifting that would require a fresh start on a new day. 

If the weather holds checking the bottom boxes will be my first priority.

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