My friend and fellow beekeeper, Deborah, came over a few days ago to go through our hive with me. She has several years' experience keeping bees and I can use all the help I can get. Last year, neither of our hives made it to winter, but this year we've made it, so I want to make sure we do everything we can to help them make it through the winter.
The day was perfect, sunny and in the high 70s, and most of the bees were out foraging. I must admit, Nate and I have been very discouraged with our beekeeping. It seems like everything that can go wrong with a hive has for us. So, I didn't have high hopes. I expected Deborah to open the hive and go running from the scene. Our bees have insisted on building burr comb on the frames despite our attempt to keep the bee space correct, so the top two supers were connected by comb extending from the bottom of one frame to the top of another. A few of the frames were also connected by comb. We had to pry them apart. Deborah explained that they are going to build comb the way they want to build it, and we have to work around it. Good enough for me. But, the good news is the comb we cut away contained honey, so we put it in a bowl for them to collect and restore. They had almost a full super of honey and more stored in the hive body. We also had capped and uncapped brood, which means we still have an active queen. We didn't have any queen cells, another plus. One thing Deborah noted is the amount of drones in the hive. Normally the drones are kicked out for the winter since they don't really contribute to the work force and are extra bodies to feed. The weather has been so warm lately that the hive probably doesn't think it's winter yet, so it hasn't banished the drones. Their days are numbered though. One negative was that we have a high number of hive beetles, so we need to address them.
I checked on them the next day, and they were all over the comb I cut out, collecting the honey and taking it back to the hive. Deborah explained how to process the comb to clean and separate the wax from the junk. Once the bees clean out the honey, I plan to get that done. I see lip balm and other goodies in my future.
Overall, we're looking good for winter. I would give us a B-.