October mornings in the apiary ... what could be better? Olive and our other dog Honey (not pictured) have been my helpers, lately. My only problem was that when it was time to wrap up, Olive just stayed in the apiary, looked back, gave me a happy pant and kept right on protecting the sunny apiary. She was the bees' knees, for sure!
So my divided brood chamber and split nucs are working fine for this double-nuc. My only issue with it is that one nuc is stronger than the other. The chamber on the right is now in two deep levels. I gifted the left chamber some drawn, filled shallow combs. Now the levels are at different heights, so each section requires its own lid, which I didn't have ... until this morning. At the Mecklenburg County Beekeepers' meeting, my friend Andrew gave me a great idea: just use the corrugated plastic. I have lots of political signs that I pick up after each election cycle. In just a couple of minutes with a utility blade, voila I had two custom-size make-shift outer covers. I'll upgrade this further but for now it works! (Note: I added an additional strip of the plastic under one end of each lid to allow ventilation.)
I needed to get a frame feeder in this hive. It's a deep and a half. The shallow had a nice cluster of bees in it, as did the bottom chamber. The cluster is more noticeable now that the nights are getting colder. It's already plunged once into the 30s. Still, I was quite happy to see this small colony is growing and growing. The blue marks on the frames tell me all this comb was built this year (I put each year's queen colors on the end bars for dating).
I added a half gallon of 2:1 sugar syrup with Honey B Healthy added to it. The corrugated plastic strip I put in each frame feeder this year is working great! I checked the other feeders and noticed two things: 1) I could easily tell where the syrup levels were in the frame feeder by whether or not I could see the strip, and 2) no drowned bees, as the corrugated plastic strips make for excellent floating life rafts if the bees slip into the drink and need to make it to screen on the sides and climb to safety. So this colony got its feeder, only one more to go. I've found that adding between 1/2 and 3/4 gallon to the feeders at a time is plenty without the sides bowing out too much.
This is the little nuc that could. I put my one remaining white dot queen from 2014 in this for safe keeping on one frame of bees and one food frame. I never fed this colony during the summer dearth nor during the fall nectar flow. Not only is this nuc surviving, it's thriving.
These crazy little bees are drawing out foundation on the fall flow. I couldn't believe my eyes. To thank them, I gifted them a frame feeder with a 1/2 gallon of 2:1 syrup and Honey B Healthy and a second level with 4 drawn combs, two of which contained loads of pollen and nectar. When checked this morning they were buzzing along quite happily in the autumn sun. I LOVE this queen and her prodginy. I recently fortified this nuc further to ensure it survives the winter (more on that in an upcoming post), as I want to make more queens out of this wonderful, resilient, calm and methodical queen. Long live the white dot 2014 queen!
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Tom Davidson is the owner and beekeeper at T's Bees.
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