August Field Day
Our August field day was on the 8th, Saturday at 1:00 pm. We had a small group, but a family came that was just interested in learning about bees, so it was fun to show them the inside of a beehive, then walk them through extracting and the best part - tasting - the honey!
We checked our little split first - it looked good. We didn't want to disturb it, so we just left it as it was. We moved next to our early split, the one that we re-started from the package hive. It was doing fantastic. It had a full super of finished frames, so we collected all ten and gave it back empty drawn comb. Next, we checked the insulated hive. It still had a mostly empty top box and the next one down was full, but not all was fully capped. We took one frame and put it back together. It does have six boxes on it, though. Lastly, we checked the long hive. It was doing very well. We collected three deep frames from it.
We then went back to the garage and uncapped and extracted some honey. One of our attendees was an expert uncapper, so that went quickly. I also did a "show and tell" about a long hive that had been insulated with foam insulation. We had convinced the owner that the insulation was not allowing enough ventilation and should be removed and replaced with natural materials that breathe better. When we removed the foam, it was riddled with ant trails and holes. The hive was also very moldy and mildewy inside. As I think more about the styrofoam insulation, I am becoming more convinced that the bees definitely benefit from winter insulation, but do not benefit from it in the summer, especially in our wet, humid environment. This had been a quite wet summer, but it is always humid in the summer here. Bees are working hard in the summer to evaporate the honey from the consistency of water to 18% water. If the water cannot escape the hive, it makes their job very difficult. In the winter, the only moisture the bees have to worry about is what they create from their own respiration. With a decent ventilation system at the top of the hive for warm moist air to escape, that can be easily dealt with in the much drier conditions of winter.
Next month we will discuss how to prepare for winter, how much honey to leave on the hives and the proper timetable for these preparations.