Sunday, December 20, 2009

Pre-Winter Check: Everything Looking Good

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in SoCal, as today's temps hit the low 70's or so... just as I'm reading that New York is getting 15 inches of snow.

Anyway, I took advantage of the beautiful day to open up a few of the hives I haven't seen in awhile. Specifically, I was looking for food stores--- have they socked enough in to survive a prolonged El Nino (predicted, which usually means tons of rain in Jan/Feb)?

I particularly wanted to check the two feral hives I got this year--- the one from the garage cut-out, and the swarm pictured behind the title of this blog. I'm glad to say both are doing great; lots of bees and lots of food stores. The garage hive was typically docile and cooperative. the swarm hive was just the opposite; they were not appreciative at all of my intrusion. Nonetheless I gave both hives a pretty good inspection, and they've got small amounts of brood (to be expected at this time of year) and lots of capped honey.

I meant to get pix of the natural comb the garage hive has appended to the bottom of the frames in their hive. When I hived them, I did it on "medium" frames, and they're in a large hive body. So, they feel compelled to fill the space with comb, and they have. I'll get some photos next time.

I also checked out the hive of Carniolans that were mite-infested, to see how their population was holding up. Again, it looks good. The only caveat to that is there's very little brood that I could see, although it was impossible to get a good look through the carpet of bees on the frames. Just the fact that the population is strong has me hopeful that we'll get through the winter, and in the spring I'll probably split the hive to break the brood cycle and mitigate mite impact.

one additional note: All the hives I looked at had some beautiful, capped, dark honey--- no doubt from the local eucalyptus blooms. I've noticed a few more of the local eucs are getting ready to bloom, so I'm hoping that in early Feb I can pull some frames from all the hives and harvest some dark, delicious eucalyptus honey, just before the March/April sage bloom hits.

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