I cannot express to you how much I HATE this time of year. It used to be my favorite…the beautiful showcase of changing leaves, the cooler temperatures, a reprieve from the 80 degrees dry temperatures of summer….the lack of mosquitos.
However THIS is the time of year the bees start to play tricks on you. I always wonder….have I done enough? Most of what we’ve learned and applied so far goes out the window. They do things like rob each other…play nice girls although winter is around the corner you’ll all get fed! Nope…they’d rather grab their own honey from a neighboring hive if left open too long. Queens disappear and the stray yellow jacket is seen stealing honey from the supers. Reduce those entrances. Otherwise they’ll fight to the death.
I don’t see eggs therefore I don’t have a queen!!!! Nope! Not always true. The more experience I get the more I think “just shut them up and hope for the best for winter”. Different queens show different traits. I have purple/pink thorax girls who are laying up a storm. Mated in early September it’s like they want to set the world on fire. Contrast that to my dark carnolian girls. Tons of honey – smaller population. No eggs to be seen. The only reason I know these are viable hives is because I marked my queens and experience has proven that although the pit in my stomach at the declining population is real – these hives likely surprise me in the spring. They challenge all logic…seriously.
Do I have enough food? Water water, but not a drop to drink! Golden rod golden rod…but seriously no nectar! Pollen “yes”, nectar “no”. I knew this was coming. I’ve seen this year before….and yet did I do enough? Did I feed enough? All hives will get supplemental feed in case of emergency, but still….
Are my mites down? I should have known this two months ago…but temperatures were too high and treating with any honey supers on is labor intensive. What on earth did I do and was it enough?
Mice - There is nothing worse than opening a hive in January to be surprised by the cute little mouse and all her mouse poo greeting me….taunting me that I should have guarded earlier. What an easy prevention what in the world is my excuse! All honey is worthless. Can’t have that around food. Not to mention the stress on the bees. She’s been gobbling them up all winter. Naughty girl….if you weren’t so cute and detrimental to my bees I’d wish a very nasty death upon you. It’s still my fault….still leave. “go away!”
Moisture, insulation? Don’t get me started, I’m still looking for the magical solution here. Work still to be done in December. There are no breaks in beekeeping, just lighter work-loads but heavier worries.
I’m already looking forward to spring when all sins are forgiven, but that’s so far away.
I hate this time of year.