Saturday, August 22, 2015

August - September 2015: It's that time of year -- feeding bees and feeding bees and feeding bees....

Rescued this bee from the fish pond
while we were camping this week. 
August18 -- Fed all three hives about 2.6 quarts each. Queen Anya's hive is not looking good. Queen Rachel's kingdom is strong. Queen Bianca is between the two.

August 22 -- Fed again. 2 to 1 sugar to water mix these days. Same comments re hive strength. We will do an inspection before next feeding and are considering moving a frame of brood from the strong hive to the weak hive.

August 25 -- Well, we didn't do an inspection yet. No time, but fed the bees. The middle hive (Queen Rachel) is looking good and strong. Queen Anya is questionable. Queen Bianca looks okay.

August 27 -- Fed again. Bags were completely drive. The bees are clearly hungry. The dry weather for the past few weeks has no doubt obliterated any nectar so they need the syrup to both feed on and store. We definitely need rain! As of the next feeding (tomorrow) we will have used 85 pounds of sugar. Still haven't had time to inspect.

September 1 -- More feeding before heading off to the Country Fair with two daughters and six grandchildren. Hot but what a fun day!

September 3 -- Fed all three hives 2/1 solution about 2/3 gallons each.

September 16 - 19 -- We inspected all three hives. Queen Anya is gone. We're not sure whether they swarmed or absconded. There is no brood in the hive at all and very few drones -- only worker bees. We thought they were probably robber bees but Larry closed up the hive after dark on the 18th. If they were all robbers they would have gone home, but this morning (Sept 19) when he opened the hive there were lots of bees. These are all summer bees and will die so that hive is essentially finished. The other two are still strong with lots of brood and plenty of stores. We saw Queen Rachel. She is a pretty thing. Didn't find Queen Bianca. We fed the two strong hives on the 16th giving Queen Rachel's two bags (about a gallon and a third) and Queen Bianca's one (2/3 gallon). All the syrup was gone when Larry checked this morning. Oh my goodness but beekeeping is a challenge.

September 25 - Gave both hives a gallon of 1/1 sugar syrup.

September 28 - Fed both hives but Queen Rachels still had 1/4 bag left so she got 1/2 gallon, Queen Bianca got a full gallon. It was a heavier syrup but not 2/1.

Friday, August 14, 2015

August 13-14: Beekeepers' Winter is Beginning

In August, beekeepers begin to look toward the winter. We inspected our hives yesterday to determine status. All four hives presently have four supers.

Queen Anya -- looks like her kingdom is in trouble. There wasn't much nectar and the brood is light and spotty, although we saw uncapped brood. We didn't see the queen. This hive definitely needs heavy feeding. There were queen cells which makes us wonder if the queen is gone. Five frames in the top box had some honey and nectar, the other four were mostly empty. The bottom box was also mostly empty. The two in between had some stores and light brood. We moved the bottom box to the top and fed about three quarts of syrup today.

Queen Rachel -- This continues to be the strongest hive. The top box had a lot of capped honey, but bees were also feeding on the stores. We saw the queen in the second box down so we did not go further. That also had capped honey. Both boxes had frames of solid brood. She is doing her job. We also fed them today.

Queen Bianca -- This hive also has more capped honey and good brood pattern, but not as strong as Queen Rachel's kingdom. The bottom box was mostly empty so we moved it to the top. We also fed them today.

It looks like we will need to do serious feeding over the next few months and we are considering moving a frame of brood from Queen Rachel's hive to Queen Anya's. We'll determine after we see what the results of feeding are.

All the hives were bringing in pollen today, but not a lot.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Our Fresh Air Girls are Visiting from NYC and We're Having a Blast!

It was a great reunion to have our two young friends from the Big Apple visit us again this year. We're in the middle of all kinds of fun: going to Brusters for ice cream, dancing at Skyline Terrace Nursing Home, swimming, picking peaches and blackberries at Marker Miller, visiting the horse ranch to watch Anya and Bianca's riding lessons. Today we're off to the farm to milk a cow and help with other farm chores. And tomorrow will be a marathon of fun: touring Shenandoah Caverns, eating at a Thai restaurant, playing Putt-Putt and going to the Fresh Air swim party. Just take a look at the pictures and you'll see the smiles and know how much fun it is to be a Fresh Air family. (The girls were also interviewed and photographed by the Northern Virginia Daily and will be in the paper. What a souvenir to take home!)

Pick up in Harrisonburg and ready for fun!

Stop at Southern Kitchen for supper and make a couple of new friends.

"Boot Scootin' Boogie" at Skyline Terrace - Line dancing is fun!

Picking apples at Camp Kreitzer.

A bumper crop for making apple sauce.

Enjoying the breeze on the porch at Marker Miller while we wait for Anya and Bianca.

Wow, those blackberries are sweet and good!

Now if we just had a horse or donkey to pull the wagon...

More new friends at the horseback riding facility

Celebrating Anya's big seventh birthday