I'm down to (8) hives; one at the old farm and seven at Dr. D's. However, three of those hives are from recent splits. Given my recent loses, I've been obsessing over these remaining hives. The thought wakes me up at night and I imagine empty hives that look like the ruins of bygone civilizations.
The trouble is that with this project still only a side venture, it's priority often slips down the list. So when I finally got out to Dr. D's this weekend, I was nearly sick with worry. However, it turned out to be the best beekeeping day of the year.
For starters it was a pleasant 85͒ and sunny. Given how hot it's been this year, this felt like air-conditioning.
However, what made the trip so wonderful was how well all the bees were doing.
Hive-A has filled six of the ten re-waxed frames with honey.
Hive-B was full but didn't show any signs of swarm cells, so I added a box of re-waxed frames.
Hive-C.1 had three boxes so I harvested a box of honey, leaving two supers.
Hive-C (like Hive-B) was full but didn't have any swarm cells, so I added a box of re-waxed frames.
Hive-B.1 & Hive-VSH both had lots of activity so I didn't open them.
Hive-B.1.1.VSH, despite previously being overrun by beetles, has snapped back. It has a beautiful queen that is laying like crazy and the bees have filled six frames with brood, pollen, and honey.
All seven hives are doing really well. In fact, next year, I plan to make splits in mid-August since the bees seem to have so much to forage.
I mentioned that I put re-waxed frames in the hives. I've mentioned this before but bees WILL NOT build on bare plastic frames. They have to have a thin coat of wax on them. "How thin?" is the question.
I melted what little wax I had in a metal pan and added two parts water. Then I did my best to stir the mixture as I worked to make the wax as thin as possible. However, I am not sure the water actually mixed with the wax.
The first (13) frames worked out perfectly. Each took just enough wax to highlight the printed comb pattern. However, the last seven frames had mostly water but it gave the frame a slightly tacky feel - Hopefully this was enough wax to get the bees started.
To see if it works, I marked each frame with either "Good Wax" or "Wet Wax". I placed the good frames in the middle of the hive so that the bees could fill these first but hopefully they will fill them all.
End of the year:
I only plan to open the hives two more times this year. This weekend I will go back to Dr. D's and gather all of my hive top feeders. After I caulk the inside of them, I will fill the void with diatomaceous earth and cedar chips.
I will then return to Dr. D's to set the hives up for winter. I will place a feeder on each hive as well as an unscented swiffer pad on each the bottom board. Finally, I will dock the front entrance up so that there is only about an inch of open space. With that, I will say a prayer, and wait for Spring. I'll still visit the hives once a month to heft them and feed them if need be but other wise, the season is over.