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Whidbey Island Washington Beekeeping & Honeybees - Lavender Honey - Green Road Farm - Tim Walsh

2016 – Giving Control Back to the Honeybees

The idiom “Batten down the hatch” is a nautical expression meaning to prepare for bad weather by closing all of the windows and doors in a ship. Last year the hives, being old and tired had too many cracks and openings and the bees could not protect themselves from the onslaught of yellow jackets. Because of this I lost three of my hives.

This year, I believe the yellow jackets will return to plunder and pillage my hives expecting to find the same old tired hives…but they will be in for a surprise. I have helped my bees take back control of their hives.

  1. I have set up yellow jacket traps around the property and have already caught three queens.
  2. The hives have also been, sealed, repainted and equipped with new and improved tops. The tops are designed to allow ventilation and provide an entrance.
  3. Most importantly I am experimenting with closing the long opening along the bottom of the hive and leaving only round holes. These holes can be easily reduced by the bees using propolis.

In one hive, the bees have already reduced  one of the holes to the size of one bee. It really gives control back to the bees.

Fast forward to October…the yellow jackets are back but they cannot get into the hive and are no threat to the bees.

But,

The bees produced NO honey this year.

I had one hive, that swarmed repeatedly.

I bought two new queens, and the one hive stopped swarming and started to become a healthy hive. The other hive continued limping along.

The hives just did not produce honey for me or THEMSELVES. There was literally NO honey stored in any honeycomb anywhere within the hive.

I started feeding them with  a spring ratio ( 1 to 1 sugar water by weight) in August to build up bees. By traditional beekeeping thought, the 1 to 1 ratio mimics the lighter spring nectar and signals that it is time to produce new bees (brood). My numbers ( the amount of bees that were in the hive) were way down, so I thought this was a good idea, because I can always feed them a 2 to 1 ratio ( 2 parts sugar to 1 part water by weight) to mimic stored honey, thus a winter environment.

The hives are doing really well now. BUT, I will continue feeding them throughout the winter, because, for one thing I don’t want to spend $40  for a queen and two, I don’t want to spend $135.00 for a new package of bees!

Good luck, if you are trying to make a living raising bees! 🙁

 

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