Since reporting our happy discovery at the beginning of July that Clarissa was queenright after all we have written about our niece’s bees, bee plants, and cut-out bees but not the colonies in our own backyard. It is time to catch up.
In a frenzy of sawdust during the weekend post-hiving we made fifty-six brand new top bars per the procedure described in our Making Top Bars post. Those were enough bars to finish populating the part of each hive on the unoccupied side of the follower board with some extra bars remaining. The rooves have been much more level ever since.
Building of improved, mouse-resistant ekes must happen before winter threatens but with the coolness of the summer and lack of bearding other, non-apicultural tasks continue to have greater urgency at the present.
This year’s novel problem was the formication of all three hives with small black ants, much smaller than the ones we found in Beatrix last year. Not only did they show great interest in the syrup we provide in the unoccupied part of the hive but they even invaded the space between observation window and shutter. Per beekeeping lore from several sources we successfully repelled them by scattering cinnamon powder where we saw them inside and outside the hive. The bees do not seem bothered and should in their own time carry it out as rubbish.
Otherwise we have simply been adding top bars, opening more entrances, and swapping syrup bags as needed. Each hive has by now gone from the original five frames to a dozen frames/bars and four entrance holes with Beatrix slightly behind her new sisters. It may be that she gets the first morning sun a little later or it is just the usual variation among colonies.
In past years we tended to simply add new bars just before the follower board, extending the occupied volume without moving any of the existing bars. Now we judiciously insert them between other bars already bearing straight comb. This forces the comb-to-be-built to also be straight. In particular we have taken to inserting them at the boundary between brood and food comb. Appending new bars would result in their bearing honey comb while inserting into the brood chamber would result in more brood comb. Rather than helpfully coaxing them one way or the other, this lets the bees choose the use of the new comb.
- We have once again found a nest of yellow jackets in a hole in the ground near the hives and will be applying the dreaded glass bowl. Eradicating them is becoming a regular part of late summer beekeeping.
And so we return to watching the girls work the basil, oregano, cup plants, buckwheat, and we know not what else as we wait for that funky smell in the hives that tells us the goldenrod flow has begun in earnest.