Fall bees

by Jorge

It's now September, so we're getting serious about getting the boxes off the colonies and getting in the varroa medications. Even if the honey crop didn't average anything particularly high, at least the bees look quite good in terms of population.

The temperature is only in the fifties unfortunately. It looks like fall is arriving rather swiftly. Apiguard vaporizes pretty well in the seventies, but fifty degrees is lower than I would prefer.

Anyway, here are some images of mite treatment with Apiguard before I head off to extract honey today.

One of the nice colonies full of bees--and full of a few too many mites.

Apiguard treatments.

Where we stand

by Jorge

Well, it looks like all of the yards will have produced something this year. Not much, but at least something. Hundreds of our honey supers are on moth crystals instead of hives, but we did not get totally shut out of a crop. We can probably classify it as "fair" rather than very poor. So, now is the time the boxes start coming off and the mites need to get killed. The varroa numbers are climbing, and below I have a couple of images that Alex took the other day when we stripped a few yards.

This is what we don't want to see in the drone brood between boxes--little red devils.

And here are the little uglies, up close and personal.

Honey-making weather is here

by Jorge

It's finally heating up and drying out. The planting ran so late that there will be soybeans blooming through most of August. I also saw some bees on the first yellow flowers to open a few days ago. There is some chance we could get another 20-50 pounds this month, it's just so rare that I don't want to hold my breath. The other factor in play is that our varroa mite situation seems to be escalating. We'll start sampling soon, but I've already seen them in the hives more than I would like.

I've gotten about three barrels of honey extracted, plus what is in the processing system. There was a time that seemed like a lot of honey for us, but now I remember 2005 and recall that we had 100 barrels processed before the middle of August. Not quite the same circumstances this year.

Today I'm going around to check a few yards. A couple of days ago it appeared the honey was starting to come a little quicker, so I'll get a sample of what's going on in other places. I also need to get some of our surplus honey boxes out on the hives to keep the wax moths from finding them. We don't use queen excluders on our doubles, so the risk of moths finding pollen and dark combs in the honey boxes is pretty high.

Somebody left the faucet running

by Jorge

I was planning to go and check a few yards today. I didn't really expect to see a lot of honey given the latest weather, but I was curious to see if a few of them had blown over from some recent winds. So what happens? Late yesterday afternoon winds (some around 75 mph) blew through parts of central Iowa and dropped at least 2.5" in Grinnell. I'm sitting out today in hopes of things drying up enough that I won't tear up the ground driving into the yards....also trying to avoid getting stuck of course. There is allegedly a good chance of more rain after 1 a.m. tonight. Smashing.

Several years ago I recall getting ready to go back to Iowa State with a very poor crop on the hives in August. Then the honey started coming in the next couple of weeks, and that saved us from a hopeless crop. We are getting to the end now--if things don't pick up soon we will be semi-skunked. Some yards still have basically nothing.

For today's illustration, here is Alex in the midst of a memorable spring-time attack.

Not much honey

by Jorge

Yesterday I drove around to see what transpired while I was away to England and Sweden, but the news wasn't the best. We're closing in on August and there hasn't been a really good flow in all of the yards. About 1/3 of them have had a significant amount of honey fill the boxes, but there is a long stretch to go before a respectable crop hits the barrels. Five inches of rain in the last week hasn't helped our prospects. On the fortunate side, I did pull half a dozen boxes of cut comb yesterday. At least we have a start on the Iowa State Fair demands.

Also, the building has made great strides toward completion in the past couple of weeks. We still need some finishing touches on the basic structure, but the main thing is the electrical work. Hopefully the electrical guys can make it in the next couple of weeks as well.

Here is our newly lengthened building--quite the increase....

This is the future extracting room--it seems we might not get to use it until next year though.

And a little extra storage space should help ease congestion in the warehouse.

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