We were surprised to find that we have not posted anything since late September but there has been little novel or noteworthy. As in the previous year Annabelle evicted her drones, stockpiled goldenrod nectar, and repulsed yellowjackets while we removed her empty bars, snugged up the follower board, covered her roof with black plastic, reduced the number of entrances, and built another fortress of straw bales since our young hedge is yet inadequate as a windbreak.
One difference from last year is that we did not make any fondant to be a supplementary food source. Instead we placed a tray with a few pounds of dry sugar in the empty chamber of the hive. In Langstroth hives dry sugar placed on the inner cover or in a special eke will not just provide a food source but absorb moisture, the dripping danger of winter. We shall see if it can do the same off to the side without the same air circulation as in a vertical hive.
Last Wednesday was sufficiently warm for us to push the roof and our eke aside enough to quickly look in the chamber and see if they had made any progress on the sugar tray. If they had it would have been a worrying sign of early starvation but happily the pile looked only a little investigated but not raided.
Before replacing the roof, more from habit than expectation, we turned it to check for wasp nests. To our startlement a mouse was sitting on one of the crossbars. He sprang off into the wool batting and then, after a quick glance at us, onto the ground and away. The batting was undisturbed so it had not had time to settle in and certainly had not entered the hive body. Our confidence in the impregnability of the colony larder made us overlook the appeal of soft warm wool batting. We shall have to keep a closer eye and affix some screen to the underside of the roof.