Feeding, feeding, feeding
We had a great open hive day last time. I'm pretty sure we're going to have a few more serious beekeepers in out area next season! The weather cooperated enough to have a good look in each of the hives, and we got a chance to see what a hive should, and should not look like going into the winter.
All three hives at TLC apiary have been surprisingly light on stores this fall, and I've been feeding them heavily to prepare for the winter. Just this month, each hive has received about 5 gallons of 2:1 syrup (2 parts sugar to 1 part water), and I think they're finally getting close to the weight I'd like them to be before winter. Since we're close to the end of the season for feeding, I may put some dry sugar under the cover of each hive as "emergency feed", in case they really need it before I can get to them in the early spring/late winter.
For those of you who came out last weekend, you may remember I had previously split a hive to deter what I thought may have been late season swarm preparations. After I recombined the two parts of the split, to make one strong hive again, we found new
queen cells being constructed. That really threw me for a loop, because the chances of a swarm surviving at this time are nil, and I don't really think there would even be time for one of those new queens to emerge, mate, and begin laying.
My options seemed to be: #1- determine if there is even a laying queen in there and them cut all new queen cells (the worst), #2- purchase and install a mated queen from somewhere (after removing the existing queen and all queen cells), or #3- just wait and see. Fortunately "wait-and-see" worked out for me in this case. When I went back several days later, all of the queen cells had been torn down. Presumably the original queen did the deed, as there was brood of all ages (including eggs) in the hive; she hadn't missed a beat in her duties. It seems that sometimes when the beekeeper does a major manipulation (like combining hives), the colony might get the urge to supersede the queen, whether or not there is anything wrong with the queen. Not all supersedures are successful, though, and in this case I'm glad it wasn't.