Last Monday, we harvested the last of the honey. Not much there. The honey flow has ended for the year.
We also did our first ever mite test. It was a bit scary. We decided to go with a no-kill method because a) we don’t want to kill our bees; and b) we are unable to identify our Queen bee yet. We can tell the difference between the drones and the workers, but the Queen still eludes us. There was a (very small) chance the Queen could be in the sample of bees we took to test for mites, so no-kill method was a must.
Will knocked a frame of bees into a bowl, and I scooped up half a cup and put them in a jar with a couple tablespoons of icing sugar. Then we shook the jar ’til they were all coated, and let it sit in the shade for a minute. Apparently, the icing sugar acts like little marbles under the feet of the mites and will knock them off the bees. Then you shake the jar and the icing sugar falls off the bees onto a plate, and you wet it down.
We found one mite. Ugly little thing. This means we’ll have to treat for mites this fall. We’ll be using an organic method of dribbling oxalic acid between the frames. Oxalic acid is wood bleach, and in the right concentration, it doesn’t hurt the bees, but does a number on the mites.
After, we released the ghost bees from the jar back into the hive, and the others started cleaning them off. It was pretty cool.
We saved the uncapped honey, put in in a mason jar, and fed it back to the bees for the winter. Since it’s our first colony and our first winter, we want to make sure they have lots of honey to make it to spring. If you lift that mason jar, you’ll find tons of bees sucking honey from the holes in the lid. The wasps are desperate to get into that jar. I hope they die off soon.
We also did the first of four dustings of OxyTetra-A for foulbrood. The bee club said that there’s been a number of cases of foulbrood this fall, so the treatment is a must. Once again, you mix the antibiotic with icing sugar and use a floor sifter to dust the ends of the frames. Bees love icing sugar.
We have seriously enjoyed having our bees this summer. Will’s already researching how to split our colony next spring, so that we can have more hives to look after. They are amazing little creatures. Future apiarists, perhaps?