A Staple Gun Helps...
Well, I intended to wrap my hives on Monday, but when I arrived at the hives I realized I had everything I needed except the staple gun. I even had the staples! I had used it in the barn and not put it back in my bee tote. Well, I decided to check the hives anyway and assess their health and note any changes since I checked last. This is the inside of the blue hive, which apparently was queenless. I had suspected so when I checked it last. There were some queen cells in the front brood combs and attached to the wall. I may have accidentally killed her during an inspection, I am not sure. They had attached comb to the bottom of the hive, which I have never had happen before. The original nuc frames were all plastic and were mediums. Those were the frames they built down and attached to the floor. I think when I removed one of those, I may have inadvertently squished her when I replaced the frame. They had ventilation issues all summer, apparently because they had blocked ventilation by attaching comb from two or three frames to the floor. This hive was completely cleaned out. I am assuming mostly by honeybees because although there is some wax on the floor, it is a small amount compared to how much honey was in the hive, and the combs are not badly damaged. The yellow jackets throw the wax on the floor and chew up the wax, honeybees are neat. My hope is that my bees from the three surrounding hives were the ones that got the honey, but I cannot be sure of that. I collected some of the debris from the floor to inspect thoroughly at home. I need a magnifying glass to see if there are any mites in the debris.
The other three hives seemed to be OK. They had enough weight and seemed queen-right. My concern is that even though the entrances are reduced, they still seemed to be experiencing a low level of robbing. I have identified four locations within a two to two and half mile radius of my hives where the commercial beekeeper has several pallets of hives. I feel as though if I don't move them away, they have no chance to defend their winter stores. One hive had several dead bees at the entrance that did not look like drones. That would indicate fighting to protect the entrance from robbers. They can't sacrifice too many bees this time of year and hope for winter survival.
So, they aren't wrapped yet, but only two need wrapped because the other long hive is double walled. I have to decide whether to move them now, or just give up. If I give up, I feel like I am sacrificing these hives. If I move them, I feel as though at least two have a good chance for winter survival at this point. I am tired of moving my hives and fighting this fight. If I don't find a good location to move them this fall, I will likely give up and just take a break for a few seasons. I can't compete with 12,000 hives, and no one seems to think it is important enough to do anything about it, so I don't have much choice. If anyone in the Richland area or further east has a location I can put my hives on, let me know. Signing off for now.