I'm learning to follow my instincts when it comes to beekeeping. It's about looking at the facts and clues in front of you (and there as SO many little things to look for) and making a decision based on the given situation and your knowledge base. No one will give you a definitive answer for any one problem. Some beekeepers will say we made the wrong decisions, while others will say we made the right ones. One thing I noticed this evening was the lack of stored honey the hive had, both in the brood boxes and in the honey super. About a month or two back, a fellow beekeeper told me in times of draught, when no nectar is flowing, and the bees really have no source of food, they will eat their stored honey to survive. We've definitely been experiencing a drought, so my instinct was to start feeding them sugar water again. I called my friend to bounce the idea off her, and she said she went to extract honey from a super that was full a few weeks ago, and by the time she went to extract it, the super was practically empty. The bees had eaten the honey to survive. She said feeding them would be a proactive way to help them start storing for winter. So, feeding them is what I'm doing.
We appear to have a very productive queen evidenced by this beautiful capped brood:
I feel like we are back on target with the bees, and while we are definitely not going to harvest any honey this year, if we can keep them alive through the winter, I have confidence we'll have some next year. Here's to hoping!
Now, I need help identifying this vine. It's growing along the back fence that separates us from our back neighbor. I suspect it's a muscadine vine, but I thought muscadines were larger. The "grapes" are about the size of blueberries, and when I squeezed one, the inside texture was like a grape, and it had 4 "grape" seeds in it. Also, the juice on my fingers tasted very grapey. Since I haven't id'd it yet, I haven't eaten one, so I don't know if the skin is bitter. The fact that I haven't keeled over from licking the juice is a good sign, I think. What keeps me from determining it's a muscadine are the leaves. The pictures I've seen online of muscadine leaves are different. Any help is appreciated.