It is amazing that so much can change in two weeks within the hives. Last time I was in the hives they were looking great! On Sunday when I went into the hives they were all Queen Right, but the populations were definitely smaller than they were two weeks ago. I think the bees know that winter is approaching, or at least what winter we have here in Miami. We are going to experience out first cool front of the season this week! Hallelujah!! A few of the hives still had some small hive beetles, but they are mostly corralled towards the back of the hives. The bees seem to be doing a good job keeping them in check. My main concern happened when I went into hive #3. There were hundreds of ants crawling up the cinder blocks, up the hive, and into the entrance. The population looked dismal and I thought for sure the hive had absconded from the ant infestation. The queen was present and the population actually improved as we got closer to the brood nest. The queen was just a little further back in the hive than normal. I found myself having to condense many of the hives, since the populations seemed much smaller than two week ago. I took several bars of capped honey to harvest. The bars in hive #3 that had ants I took because first of all there was no brood present, and also the queen had moved back into the hive to lay. It is amazing that they instinctively know that the ants are not a welcomed visitor. I need to watch this hive very closely because it is much weaker than it was two weeks ago. I did give it two bars of capped brood from hive #5, which is my brood box. Hopefully that will boost the population within hive #3, and give it enough resources to recover. Consolidating the hives and taking comb that isn’t necessary, will allow the bees not to have to protect empty comb against unwanted pests like ants, and small hive beetles. If you give your bees too much area to protect it sets them up for failure. Most of the hives are about 12-18 bars right now. With the cooler weather about to approach consolidation prepares them for winter.
As always, whenever I consolidate my hives I end up being able to harvest several bars of beautiful honey. Today I actually harvested about 12 pounds of honey. I put most of it in quart jars and have plans to make my first ever Cyser. My Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead is still fermenting on the kitchen counter; I look forward to tasting it during the holidays. No matter how often I harvest my honey it still is a precious gift given to me from my bees. Every drop is liquid gold!!