Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bees and Woodchips

I hauled in and laid out the rail road ties for the East section of the mini-orchard area next to the woodchip pile this morning. As you can see there is plenty of area to spread the long, high mound of chips out into and when you keep in mind the fact that these chips are freshly cut and how much of the bulk consists of leaves and cedar needles my guess is I can count on about 50% or more reduction over the Winter months.

Hopefully soon I can get the bucket put back on the Massy and spread these piles out then I can finish hauling the rest of the rail road ties in and keep the entire thing contained. I tried using the blade on the old Ford 8N but without any real weight on the back the wood chip piles just laughed at it.

I also took the fifth load of chips off the top and added them to some other mulch I have around select fruit trees in other parts of the place. You can actually tell I have made a small dent in the overall volume now.

Then it was on to bee work today.

The larger hive in the Garden apiary (Jamestown)  needed to be checked for capped honey and the top two honey supers removed with frames of unripened honey distributed to the two smaller hives that are in the Garden apiary as well. As you may remember I did the outter two apiaries last week.

I saw a number of small hive beetles in the top surplus supers of Jamestown which is causing me a bit of concern. No wax moths though and I didn't notice any mites but this is the first hive I have come across this year where I saw more than one or two beetles. This one had about 10 that I noticed and squished. Not enough to cause me great concern and honestly as this hive had been reducing it's numbers before Winter a bit it makes sense that they had a little too much real estate to guard effectively but I will need to check them again in a week or so.

I can now mark one more project off my pre-Winter list. Jamestown (the hive on the left) is now reduced down to a partially full honey super on top and two built out brood chambers on the bottom. I distributed the excess honey frames that had not been capped yet to Dorchester (Right) and Salem (Not pictured) colonies so they will have a boost for Winter stores. The top super above the black line is a feeding box as I am still giving a few hives sugar syrup before the cold weather hits. I always know which hives I am feeding by placing the black inner cover between the actual hive and the feeder box. The feeder box will be removed when it gets too cold for the girls to take syrup. The extra inner cover also allows me to remove the top and refill the feeders without the hive underneath losing too much heat. Since I will be feeding until the end of October or possibly into November keeping the heat in is important. I have a special cover/feeder box that will replace the top box for Winter that as a vent hole and in large enough to take a couple pounds of sugar paddies.

My only concern with these smaller hives now is that perhaps giving them all that drawn comb may either give them too much space to heat effectively and/or too much space to guard from pests. They really are not built up enough in the single brood chamber to warrant a new box yet but they also need the stores for Winter when I may not be able to feed them. My hope is that they still have at least a month to continue building up and the Aster flow they will need to store.

I guess I will know if I did the right thing or not by next Spring, if not sooner. Maybe I should have combined the smaller hives or something but I just hate killing off good laying queens and these hives are trying their best to build up. They are bringing in massive amounts of pollen still.

After getting the Garden bees all stirred up and out for my blood I retreated inside to let them settle down. I managed to harvest another seven frames of capped honey that I will need to spin out this week and should take care of my few select allergy clients and provide for Christmas gifts as well this year. Not to mention our own needs. If these frames spin out to the normal amount I will have harvested close to 20 gallons of honey this season. Not bad considering how many hives I lost last Winter.

There are still a few steps left before Winter hits, turning the entrance reducers, wrapping hives and placing wind breaks etc. I will do each one in steps though like entrance reduction in Late October, Hive wraps by late November. You get the idea. I don't want to over insulate them too early either.

With this last spin out of honey I will be mostly finished with all the real work for the year though. Now I can move on to tearing down the garden and getting these piles of wood chips situated.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!


  1. It's amazing how much technical know how is required to keep bees. I guess people have been bee keeping for thousands of years and the basic lore has built up over that period. Still, seems pretty complicated to me.

  2. I agree with Harry. Alot goes into bee keeping, but alot of work goes into corn, soy beans and alike. Most folks don't realize what it take to produce any kind of food, from bread, to the feeder cattle, to bee's. Its mind blowing. P.P. thanks for enlightening so many of us.


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