_But gee whiz these are ugly, spaced unevenly and .... just ugly. But they'll do for now. I'll make a couple more while I'm building equipment over winter and install them in the early spring. I now realize I need to PLANE all raw wood I'm using, so everything's NOT CROOKED and making my hives lean out of balance enough to annoy me (but the bees, thankfully, don't seem to care). Hand planing ... a new thing I'll learn along the way.
_"Hurricane Weed" only showed up here in the 1950s, is the local story, after Hurricane Hazel blew it's deadly path through the Carolinas. These tall bushes were filled with tons of little white trumpet-shaped flowers. Just behind them was a 9-foot tall stand of goldenrod. As I surveyed the area, I saw way more than I'd first realized of flowering "weeds", or survivor plants, that were feeding our pollinators, including wasps, mason bees and bumblebees. I'm now determined to learn what these are, and organize them into a regionalized journal of Survivor Plants of North Carolina. I just know that following the flora will help me understand what's going on and what may lie on the horizon. And personally I think they're beautiful.
_On Oct. 28 I had a perfect inspection opportunity, on a 69-degree day. The two small nucs filled me with relief to see they'd put away lots of fall nectar. And boy, did it stink. The sour smell of aster nectar filled the air. There was this red-colored nectar in the top boxes. I have no idea what this is. But it's gorgeous.
All of my first three nucs had this red nectar in them. I love that on this beautiful frame of capped honey you can see the red honey below the cappings. Most of the top frames in all of the boxes had been filled with empty foundationless frames. Now, all hives had at least half of the frames drawn and were busy filling them with stores for the winter. My fear had been that there hadn't been enough food in the fall. I'd decided to feed heavy syrup only 4 times from September to October, and let the fall flow take care of the rest. I am hoping that my gamble was accurate. Seeing the drawn comb and stores up top made me think it was. Even Natasha, which I'd given a completely empty super to, had filled frames with comb and nectar. A sure sign she's as strong as ever. Boris and my last nuc proved just the same. That last nuc, which is actually my first, is Hive Rocky. It is only a single deep plus one super tall, much smaller than Boris and Natsha. But it's the heaviest this year. I love the queen in Hive Rocky. We'll see how the 3-year-old queens in Boris and Natasha fare next spring. I may need to take out their old queens and let the hives raise new ones. My local queens are laying at a higher rate than my two-year-old queens, who were quite small in comparison, even though I'd paid a pretty penny for them. These local girls are cheap (free), fat, and industrious. The break in the brood cycle will also put a break in the Varroa mite cycle, so I'll at least split off the old queens into two tiny nucs and have as spares.
_No eggs or larvae were found in the top combs, only nectar, bee bread and capped honey. They're getting ready for winter time when they bundle up and try to survive the next 4 months into Spring 2013.
Tom Davidson is the owner and beekeeper at T's Bees.
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