Author Topic: What to look for - fall inspections?  (Read 253 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Newbee

  • Senior Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 267
  • Thanked: 13 times
  • Gender: Male
  • Location: Kingston, TN
What to look for - fall inspections?
« on: September 15, 2020, 08:49:04 am »
Admittedly my inspection protocol needs some work to improve my beekeeping skills. Spring/Summer inspections I'm just looking at the brood size, age, pattern, etc. Never can find the queen, but know she is there by finding day-old eggs. If I see a nice expanding brood, I'm happy and close the hive up to minimize intrusiveness.

With Summer over and Fall approaching, I obviously don't want to see expanding brood. I try to identify honey and pollen stores, but what all should I be looking for? Does the over-winter brood look different than regular season? I'm guessing there should be no drones?
Any suggestions and ideas are welcomed!
Thanks.

Offline RAST

  • Senior Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 104
  • Thanked: 8 times
  • Gender: Male
  • Location: MASCOTTE AND CHASSAHOWITZKA FL.
Re: What to look for - fall inspections?
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2020, 09:36:52 am »
 With respects to the weather difference I also like to see uncapped nectar/sugar water and the uncapped larva have a slightly wet glisten from being fed. Some will keep drones longer than others due to fall flows. 

Offline Bakersdozen

  • Global Moderator
  • Gold Member
  • *******
  • Posts: 3676
  • Thanked: 306 times
  • Gender: Female
  • Location: Olathe, Kansas
Re: What to look for - fall inspections?
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2020, 10:49:10 am »
Good question, Newbee.  Very timely.
The basics, IMO, for hive inspections are assessing 1. Queen rightness  2. Food stores  3. Colony health  4. Colony strength. 

Is the queen still laying in a good pattern?  Are the larvae being feed plenty of royal jelly?  The presence of Royal Jelly is evidence of adequate nectar/pollen available.  I wouldn't worry about drones in the colony.  Drones are a good sign.  The workers will kick them out when the time is right.  Early in my beekeeping adventure I observed a colony with a lot of drones in November.  I was scratching my head but I learned the doomed colony had gone queenless and a laying worker stepped up to fulfill the role.

Are there adequate food stores going into winter?  In this part of the country we plan on 60# of honey for each colony.  If they look light, I would start feeding them now, 2:1 sugar syrup.  That's 4 cups of water to 1-4# bag of sugar or 8#  of sugar to 4# of water.

Have you tested and treated for mites?  Mites are the big vector of disease and pathogens, especially this time of year.  Colony numbers decline but mite counts continue to climb.  To learn more about mites and testing go to www.honeybeehealthcoalition.org

In the Aug. 2020 issue of Bee Culture Magazine, Meredith Swett Walker wrote an article entitled, Colony Size Drives Honey Bees' Overwinter Survival.  Walker writes. "The best predictors of overwinter survival were colony weight and the number of worker bees in October..."   She found that colonies weighing 66 pounds (or about 30 kg) had a winter survival rate around 94 %.
Colonies weighing around 44# (or 20kg) had a low survival rate.  The recommendations for over winter survival, in the article, are good quality queens, varroa management, and track colony weight.  If they are underweight, supplement with pollen and sugar syrup to boost worker numbers. She concludes with colonies going into winter that are small can be combined to boost the odds of overwinter survival.

I hope this helps. 

Offline Newbee

  • Senior Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 267
  • Thanked: 13 times
  • Gender: Male
  • Location: Kingston, TN
Re: What to look for - fall inspections?
« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2020, 06:37:10 pm »
Thanks for the great info!

Offline Zweefer

  • Administrator
  • Gold Member
  • *******
  • Posts: 1326
  • Thanked: 72 times
  • Gender: Male
  • Location: Eau Claire WI
Re: What to look for - fall inspections?
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2020, 09:15:51 pm »
After bakers spectacular answer I don’t have anything to add, other than possibly check with others in your area for what the standard weight  you want to target. For me in the frozen tundra it is around 110 lbs, a far cry from the 66 listed by bakers...
Keeping of bees is like the direction of sunbeams.
Henry David Thoreau

Offline Mcedwar

  • Regular Member
  • **
  • Posts: 27
  • Thanked: 1 times
  • Gender: Male
  • Location: Eureka
Re: What to look for - fall inspections?
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2020, 07:27:06 am »
What climate zone are you all in?

Offline Bakersdozen

  • Global Moderator
  • Gold Member
  • *******
  • Posts: 3676
  • Thanked: 306 times
  • Gender: Female
  • Location: Olathe, Kansas
Re: What to look for - fall inspections?
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2020, 10:07:53 am »
What climate zone are you all in?

Some websites say I am in Hardiness zone 5a, others say zone 6.  Our winter temperatures can drop to -10 to -15 F.  In the winter, we have wind that comes down from Canada with nothing to stop it.   Our summers are surprising humid and can get into the 100's F for a few days. 
Going into winter, other than colony health and being queen right, we focus on plenty of food, a wind break, and something to ensure moist air won't condensation on the inner cover.

Offline Zweefer

  • Administrator
  • Gold Member
  • *******
  • Posts: 1326
  • Thanked: 72 times
  • Gender: Male
  • Location: Eau Claire WI
Re: What to look for - fall inspections?
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2020, 04:15:12 pm »
Listed as 4a here
Keeping of bees is like the direction of sunbeams.
Henry David Thoreau

Offline Mcedwar

  • Regular Member
  • **
  • Posts: 27
  • Thanked: 1 times
  • Gender: Male
  • Location: Eureka
Re: What to look for - fall inspections?
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2020, 11:05:54 am »
What climate zone are you all in?

Some websites say I am in Hardiness zone 5a, others say zone 6.  Our winter temperatures can drop to -10 to -15 F.  In the winter, we have wind that comes down from Canada with nothing to stop it.   Our summers are surprising humid and can get into the 100's F for a few days. 
Going into winter, other than colony health and being queen right, we focus on plenty of food, a wind break, and something to ensure moist air won't condensation on the inner cover.
Sounds like Central IL, which is where I am.

Offline Mcedwar

  • Regular Member
  • **
  • Posts: 27
  • Thanked: 1 times
  • Gender: Male
  • Location: Eureka
Re: What to look for - fall inspections?
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2020, 11:07:54 am »
It got down to 38° last night.