The Labor Day check update
The old fashioned beekeepers used to collect honey on the Fourth of July and again on Labor Day, then the beekeeping year was essentially done except for winter prep. So, I decided to go out to the hives on September 1, 2022 to see if there was any honey to collect. On last inspection the end of July, a bit over a month ago, there were a lot of frames of honey on the blue hive, but they were not capped, so I left them. Also many had empty cells and toward the front there was still some brood in some. I had hoped those would be filled, capped and ready to take. What I found instead was that most of those frames were empty. That is a bit strange. The only time that happens typically this time of year is if the hive is robbed, or if it swarmed. It is kind of the wrong time of year to swarm, but this hive has done strange things in the past. The hive has a lot of bees, but it was totally packed with bees before, so I suppose it could have swarmed. With the large population it has had all summer long, it would seem unlikely it would be robbed. I did see pollen going into the hive, which usually indicates a laying queen. They were filling empty frames and there was plenty of honey for them. So, I rearranged a little and closed them up. I did not check the broodnest. I know the detective in me wants to know exactly what happened, but the beekeeper in me knows from experience that it is better to leave it alone. They obviously have enough bees and stores to overwinter, and I do not want to risk accidentally killing the queen at this time of the year.
I next checked the vertical hive. They have moved up into into the medium super a little bit. It had a little bit of weight. I took that off and just looked at the top deep. That is pretty much filled now, which is good. Adding the super at least got them to move into the top deep. They should be in good shape for winter.
Next, I checked the tan hive. It was calmer than it has been. It is only filling half the hive, but seems to have plenty of stores for itself. I had pulled a couple of frames of honey from it last month, but I did not feel it had enough to pull any more.
So, at the September field day we will flip the inner covers to their winter position and we may add mouse guards if it seems appropriate yet. Basically it is my goal to do anything to the hives that requires opening them before winter. In October we will add the top insulating blankets, but that does not require removing the inner covers. The tan hive is double walled, so all it needs for the winter is the mouse guards. In October we will add outside insulation to the two hives that are not double walled, then they are set for winter.