The apiary is approaching winter in a far different state than we anticipated in the optimistic warmth of summer. One after another queens were somehow lost and not replaced and laying workers reared their ugly…abdomens. From a high of five colonies we are down to a single, worrying one. Brief logs follow.

[2021-Aug-16] Despite the new queen, we observed no brood anywhere in Beatrix and she seemed less booming than usual.

[2021-Sep-06] Sugar rolling reported that Dorcas had an unhappy 5% mites while Clarissa had a mere 1%. We natheless treated both with full doses of MAQS.

Beatrix finally had brood and lots of it but all drone. We performed the too familiar ceremony of transferring the honey to other colonies and dumping the bees to find a home.

[2021-Sep-19] Another sugar roll showed Dorcas and Clarissa each at 1% mites. Clarissa had several queen cups. We gave each hive a half-dose MAQS treatment.

[2021-Oct-10] In spite of treatments Dorcas was back up to 4% mites and Clarissa nearly 2%. We responded with full doses of MAQS. Clarissa had one queen cup left but no brood.

[2021-Oct-20] Clarissa’s queen cups were all gone but still no brood. Hoping to prevent another case of laying workers we performed a paper-combine to move her bees into Dorcas.

In a conventional, vertical-stack hive a few sheets of newspaper would be placed between hive bodies. In ours we removed the follower board and replaced it with thin paper held in place with painter’s tape. It did not stick perfectly to the propolized surfaces but well enough. Next we delicately made several slits in the taut paper with a fresh-bladed box cutter. Then we transferred the fullest honey frames and shook all the bees from Clarissa into Dorcas. And finally we restored the follower board and closed up both hives.

We closed all of Clarissa’s entrances and hauled her off to encourage any returning foragers to enter Dorcas.

[2021-Oct-21] Wanting to know how the combination was proceeding, we looked around Dorcas. There was no sign of paper scraps but no dead bees either. A peek through the window showed light traffic along a gap. No fighting.

[2021-Oct-31] The starter slits have been expanded to large holes in the paper divider. We removed the rest ourselves. The bees seemed less than grateful but the weather was a bit threatening. Also removed a few undrawn or very incompletely drawn frames, catching a glimpse of what may have been a queen in the process. The drawn-out frames yet have room for honey and we worry about their winter stores. They seem not plentiful for a hive as large as Dorclarissas has become. Other beekeepers have commented that our usual goldenrod flow did not occur this year. We finished up by putting the usual black-wrapped foam around the hive.

[2021-Nov-08] Since temperatures are spending more time in the range where syrup feeding is useless, we made up four no-cook candy boards (essentially sugar slabs) and rubber banded them into frames. That let us fill out Dorcas.

Oxalic fog to come and then uncomfortable waiting through winter as we figure out an emergency feeding strategy.