It is a pretty fall this year. Lots of cool nights with little frost have allowed the leaves to turn deeply and gradually into the colors that make everyone happy. A quick hard frost usually just torches them into an unexciting brown, but we have a lot of yellow, orange, and red coloring the timber stands right now. We’re not quite at the peak of fall foliage, so it will probably get really vibrant if we can dodge one more round of frost this weekend.
This week we will truly feel the temperatures drop to the cooler side of autumn. We’ve been lucky to have temperatures above 60F and dry weather to push ahead with all of our work. The pleasant weather helped us finish refurbishing the little building in Mount Vernon where Andrew is tacking down the tar paper for the roof in the introductory image. Overnight we got some much needed rain, but we will soon see the daytime highs drop ten or twenty degrees. There have only been two patchy frosts so far, so the bees haven’t really been tested for cool weather resiliency.
This is all another way of saying that we will soon find out if most of the bees have adequate health and the “fat bodies” that allow them to stay healthy and warm going into winter. If not, the clusters start to progressively dwindle or simply collapse to the bottom board of the hive. It looks like we are surviving the fall mite emergence well, however, so our odds are good. For years we assumed that varroa mites lived like little vampires sucking the “blood” out of bees, but they actually feast on the fat bodies that are most crucial during the winter for thermoregulation/survival.
Naturally we have plenty of projects to finish up before the winter descends. The organic acid applications for cleaning up the mites are ongoing, supplemental feeding is underway now that the flowers are basically gone, and we haven’t even started to roundup the bees for their journey to California.
We have squeezed in some time to enjoy the traditional harvest season too. Here is Andrew with some of our honey in an orchard store when we went apple picking a couple of weekends ago.