Fear and Loathing in Autumn Inspection

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Location: Flynn, ACT

Fear and Loathing in Autumn Inspection

Post by Davesegal » Sat May 13, 2017 3:30 pm

For pictures click here. http://www.chubbybee.com.au/2017/05/13/ ... nspection/
Today's hive inspection filled me with a slight sense of dread which changed after a quick call to Cormac Farrell a senior environmental scientist with the Canberra office of Aurecon and president of the Beekeepers Association of the ACT.

Here is what happened.

I have been feeding the bees raw sugar since I merged the two hives into one colony about two months ago. The hive boxes have increased in weigh t and at the last inspection there was so much nectar in the frames that I decided to add a honey super on top in case the frames became honeybound with no room for the queen to lay eggs.

When I popped the top of the super there was no propolis holding it together nor was there propolis holding the other boxes together. This was concerning as it was new behaviour however now I believe it is due to the time of year and an indicator that it is time to leave the bees alone more.

The honey super was as empty as it has always been since I purchased the hive in January.

Next I pulled the second full deep off the top and put it aside.

I then removed frame 2 from the bottom box. This frame and almost almost all of the frames were filled with nectar & pollen. There were two frames in the centre which has capped brood though nowhere in the frames was there any sign of eggs, larva or pupa. At the end of the inspection I was feeling quite concerned as this was the first time I had experienced this.

As I was reassembling the hive I noticed a streak of brown substance like the brown liquid spinning off a mound of sculptured clay which Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze had fondled. My state of dread turned to distress.

Much of this was captured on Facebook live. My phone is now covered in propolis.

So I looked on the BKAACT forum (paid members section) and located a list of people who had volunteered to discuss bees. Cormac answered and I explained I was a person in crisis. He responded adequately and asked me for detail.

Here is a summary which may help others in a similar situation.

There is no such thing as normal bee behaviour.
The brown streaks were proplis from the bees little leg pouches. I wiped the brown then smelt my fingers and they had a sap-like smell.
The queen had stopped laying due to a recent cold snap ( we had some frosty -3 mornings. She doesn't need any more mouths to feed.
It was time to leave the hive alone. Stop feeding as there is plenty of honey for them to feed off, the colony size will reduce over time and this will sustain them over the winter. We don't have an ice and snow winter and there is a reasonable amount of winter forage in the suburbs.
Lift the hive boxes every few weeks and if there is a significant drop in weight then quickly open the lid and drop some sugar in.
When September comes just lay paper on the top box and drop a swarm on top to add numbers to the colony.
This is my first experience of needing immediate verbal advice from an experienced beekeeper since purchasing the hives in January this year. I have read several books , journal articles, posts from a range of different forums and Facebook groups around the world. In addition I am up to episode 50 of Kevin Inglin's podcast which has been a fascinating journey following his.

My thanks go out to Cormac for setting up the conditions for psychological wellbeing during this trying time.

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