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What’s That? A Brand New Groove!

This October I inspected my only remaining hive after a couple of months of having no direct contact with the bees due to sheer, unadulterated frustration with the small hive beetles (SHB) that had destroyed the hive that I attempted to establish with a package of bees. The fall season also is a good time to do one last inspection before cool winter weather sets in. I also figured that I had better remove the top super from the brood box so the bees would have less space to occupy and keep themselves warm.   My last few checks turned up empty with no honey so I was ready to remove  the box, empty frames, and store them.

However, this final fall season inspection proved different.  After undoing the bee sealed top super and getting ready to sigh in disgust at the usual numerous beetles, I was pleasantly surprised at what I did not see and pleasantly surprised at what I did see.

I first saw that the small hive beetles were not as numerous; in fact, the bees had built their on beetle jails to contain the few that were present. Second,  with a feeling  of disbelief and my two-year old son’s constant ‘what’s that’ curiosity question flashing before me, I saw but almost could not believe that each frame in the top super was filled with uncapped golden honey.  Seeing the honey glistening like the rays of morning sun in each frame gave me radiant hope, reassuring me that I could be a successful beekeeper.  I had definitely been down in dumps with the challenges that come with being a first year beekeeper.  But pulling those honey-filled frames from their grooves, actually gave me my own groove back!

So, here is what I learned during this final inspection of the season.  I learned that the small hive beetles will not take over a hive unless it is a very weak hive.  The bees will defend their territory and fend off most pests with no problems.  Their were still SHBs present when I popped off the top and inner cover of the hive but the bees had them pretty much under control.  I learned that allowing the bees “to be bees” is extremely crucial for maintaing a healthy and successful colony of bees.  Yes, you have to check out what’s going on inside the hive but you should  not be neurotic about it.  As new a beekeeper, I had definitely been obsessive with hive inspections and that obsessiveness may have caused the demise of my packaged bee hive and almost the demise of this one.

I stopped feeding them in June but never removed the feeder. Also, I used the blue tape to prevent the SHBs from squeezing in the side cracks of the hive.

Next year, I will limit my interactions with the bees to minimal hive inspections, allow my bees to do what they do in nature, and hope that my bees and me continue to groove as we produce honey.

SHBs on upper left corner of inner cover scrambling to escape the bees.

Removing Honey Super to check brood box.

Capped Brood.

I have already ordered a nuc for next spring and plan to try things differently.  Stay tuned in and let’s see what happens.
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