What an interesting year. It has been a real learning experience. I’m fairly confident that there are more interesting things to learn during Year 2. I have to say, year 1 exceeded my expectations.
The weather has gone unseasonably cold early in November this year. I have not gotten into the hives this month and I don’t have any plans to even attempt to get into them next month. I’m comfortable that I have the varoa mites under control, the populations are in good shape, and the resources in the hive will get them through to at least March. My next planned excursion into the hives will be to put fondant and pollen substitute patties on the top bars as soon as practicable after Valentines Day. I expect to keep fondant and patties on from then until the end of March. The flow here should start around the 15th of April. I need the foragers ready by then;)
My primary year one objective was to get as much built out comb as I could. Not having a good grasp of the role that nurse bee population and nectar flow/syrup, I could have done better. I am starting next year with more frames than my plan needs so there is nothing to complain about here. Objective met.
I also wanted to have two good hives with two deeps and a medium going into winter. Both of the hives had enough bees in them in late October that I was concerned they might swarm on me. In addition to the two hives, I have two pretty solid nuc hives full of bees going into winter.
If everything makes it through the winter I will actually have a lot more hives/bees than I actually want to keep. If I should be so fortunate I’ll be breaking up a couple of these into spring nucs and looking for a new beekeeper who needs some help getting started out.
I really want to get a hive scale on one of the hives before spring. I think it would be real helpful to see how strong the nectar flow is and how the bees are able to take advantage of it.
I’m also really fascinated by a hive design “The Nat Hive” by a couple of guys up in Pennsylvania. This is a multi-queen hive where the queens have their own brood space and the worker bees share the honey supers. they have a configuration where frames from the brood area can be demareed (moved up out of the brood nest) without having to un-stack all of the supers. If my goal was to produce a lot of honey I would be out building boxes this week. We’ll see if I jump on their idea between now and next Spring.