I almost made it the whole season without a sting, but I took one right on the side of my thumb just to the side of the nail. Last hive, too!
In reverse order…
Hives 2 and 3
The report is the same on both of these. One of the friends I got into beekeeping came to borrow my fume board today, and we were talking about how the hives were doing. He’s a computer guy by trade and really struggles with the “art” side of beekeeping. To give you an idea, he developed a spreadsheet where he can input the size of the frame and an approximate percentage of honey in the frame. This spreadsheet is then used to calculate the honey in the hive. He’s a nerd. 🙂
I have told him for years that the best way to know if there is enough honey is to heft the hive. You grab one side and lift. If you can, you need more honey. If you can’t, you’re good. It’s not precise by any means, but it’s worked well enough for me.
So I hefted all my hives today while he was here, and I noticed that 2 and 3 were pretty light. I knew they were weaker, but not that weak, so I decided to go in and try to condense the size of the hives, consolidate the brood chamber and honey stores, and just push them towards slower brood production and more honey production this close to winter.
Both hives are now a single deep with a medium, which is smaller than I like to be going into winter, but that’s where they are at. I’m more confident that Hive 2 is going to be fine.
Oh, and it looks like we finally resolved the egg-laying worker in Hive 3. No signs of her at all!
Hive 1, Hive1, Hive 1…. Still massive, still strong, still good. And oh what a stinger! I can feel my thumb starting to swell up, and it’s making typing kind of interesting. The sting is right where I hit the space bar….
I didn’t get too deep before I got the sting, and once I did, I was done. I did however notice one interesting thing: the queen somehow bypassed my queen excluder! The honey harvest is going to be mighty interesting! I think what happened is that she was on the excluder when I inspected last week. When I put the excluder back on, I must have inverted it and put what had been the bottom on the top side. Queen in the honey.
The good news is that she can’t really lay too much in the big honey stores themselves. The better news is that when I harvest next week, I have about 10 frames of 7- to 14-day-old brood that I can farm out to my weaker Hives 2 and 3. It should give them a nice population boost for the last half of September and October. There’s not as much to harvest then, but there is still some stuff out there, particularly melons and squash. I’m hoping that will be just enough of a boost to get them built up for winter. I hope.