As the vibrant hues of spring unfolded, so did the task and activities at the MCBA Apiary, marking a season filled with learning, challenges, and triumphs. Let's take a closer look at the tasks and activities that shaped our beekeeping journey from April to September so far.
Hive Inspections: Unveiling the Hidden Dynamics
Our season commenced with meticulous hive inspections, peeling back the layers of each hive to witness the intricate dynamics within. These inspections, a cornerstone of responsible beekeeping, allowed us to assess the health of our colonies, identify potential issues, and provide necessary interventions.
Queen Identification and Marking: Royalty in the Hive
In the quest to understand and manage our colonies, we delved into the art of queen identification and marking. Spotting the queen, the heartbeat of the hive, is not only a thrilling task but crucial for monitoring hive vitality. By marking her, we ensure easy recognition during subsequent inspections.
Sentinel Sampling and Testing Techniques: A Vigilant Approach to Pest Control
Vigilance was key as we engaged in sentinel sampling, closely monitoring mite levels in our colonies. Testing techniques involving peppermint, beer, and vinegar emerged as valuable tools in our arsenal for effective pest control. The dedication to these practices stems from our commitment to maintaining healthy and resilient bee populations.
Harvesting and Beekeeping Ethics: Balancing the Honey Bounty
August ushered in a flurry of activity, with the sweet reward of honey harvesting. Going through the supers and taking out fully capped frames while ensuring ample honey remained for the bees' sustenance. Including harvesting of drone larvae, pupae and washing of drones.The delicate dance of harvesting exemplifies our dedication to ethical beekeeping, prioritizing the well-being of our colonies. Followed by continued monitoring of each Hive. We also took about ¼ cup samples of bees for virus testing which is a new thing for the Apiary this year. The testing of viral loads have occurred in July and we will repeat again in October as well as mite test on one of two of the colonies
Challenges and Loss: Navigating the Ups and Downs
Amidst the successes, we faced challenges. In August, we conducted the 4th Sentinel sampling of the season for mite control with some mite washes on our nucleus hives.The discovery of aggressive behavior in Hive #9 prompted a tough decision to replace the queen. The bees in Hive #9 task was to make a new Queen so we patiently left them alone for 3 weeks. They did completed their task by making a new queen that we marked pink and she is quite large. We were expecting her to lay many eggs so Maureen our head mentor went in and gave the colony two deep frames of capped brood from Nucleus Hive #14 that way the colony would have brood of all ages to fill the gap before the new queens offspring are sprung. Tragically, one hive succumbed to disease or infestation, reminding us of the fragility of these complex ecosystems.
Oxalic acid sublimation were conducted on ALL the colonies, full-size and nucleus. The humidity was awful! Maureen did go back to pull the mite boards and count the mite kill and do a second OAV treatment. We have never seen so many yellow jackets. Few of them were actually in the yard - mostly working the stack of boxes removed from the SHB-stressed colonies. Some new traps were brought in for yellow jacket and the European wasps. The few yellow jackets we saw in the apiary were scoping out the hives, but the robbing screens kept them out.
September Celebrations and Ongoing Activities: A Collective Achievement
Our journey through September began with a joyous celebration - the Annual Club Picnic/Barbeque in the Apiary. Despite an unexpected rain shower, the spirit of camaraderie and shared success prevailed. The month continued with renewed efforts, including oxalic acid sublimation, mite counting, and strategic right-sizing of colonies removing frames that aren't full of food in preparation for the approaching fall and winter while feeding all the colonies a 2:1 mixture.
As we reflect on the past months, our commitment to responsible beekeeping stands unwavering. With two more months to go, the MCBA Apiary embraces the anticipation of further adventures, discoveries, and shared accomplishments. Each task undertaken, from hive inspections to mite monitoring, contributes to the intricate dance of maintaining healthy, thriving bee colonies. As the season transitions, so does our commitment to fostering a harmonious coexistence with these remarkable pollinators.