August 28, 2010

Prairie Dog

It's been pretty quiet in the Backyard. The most exciting thing that's happened recently is we had our first Prairie Dog visitor. It walked right past the hive and across to the opposite corner of the yard. It tried to jump the fence, the poor thing, then burrowed underneath and that's the last we saw of it.

The honeybees, too, continue to head out beyond the fence for good things to eat, leaving the echinacea, blackeyed susan and oregano to the bumble bees and other native pollinators. It's ragweed season, so I imagine they've found a good supply of it somewhere nearby. They continue to bring pollen home but the season is winding down. The nectar flow will end soon with the sedums, asters and rabbitbrush.

Correspondingly, the colony is downsizing. A few drones still come and go at will, but it looks like the overly large broodnest is being backfilled with nectar. The broodnest, which had extended as far as the 19th bar, looks like it may be shrunk back to about #14, just about where we started the beekeeping year. Pulling the super off, and then the minor honey mess last month, gave them reason to increase the hive's honey storage area. The hive only fits 22 bars, so they have no choice but to backfill.

I'd like to assume that bars 15-22 are full of honey, giving them at least 40lbs. heading into Winter, but we really should look inside the hive – not just through the window – to determine the amount of honey actually stored, and consequently how much to feed or not. But the relentless 90° days have stymied us. The heat will continue into September, but eventually there will be a cooler day for our 6th and final inspection of the year.

The basicbeekeeping lessons recommend the following Winter preparations:
• Get rid of tracheal and varroa mites.
• Evaluate your honey and pollen stores.
• Configure frames strategically.
• Protect hive from harsh winter winds.
• Provide adequate ventilation.
• Protect from mice.

So that's the To-Do List for the final inspection. Stay tuned for the post sometime around the Autumnal Equinox.


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