There is an autumn chill in the air – and a whole new season for the hive.  Let the planning and preparations begin!

When I visited the hive on Saturday I found extremely low reserves of honey.  This was surprising as weeks ago there was capped golden sun aplenty.  Either they are being robbed (by other bees – it does happen) – or they are depleting their supplies due to their activity with the new brood.  I really have no clue.  What I did know, though, is that I had to act quickly to supplement their food source – and that meant feeding with syrup.

In the spring – with the new hives – I fed the bees for about a month with a one-to-one sugar:water syrup (with a splash of white vinegar to alter the pH to be more like nectar).  Each hive was set up with 3 24 ounce mason jars that they went through every few days. 1:1 is A LOT of sugar – and it has to be pure cane sugar – white and processed (not organic or raw).

For the fall leading in to the winter the ratio is 2:1.  And, gosh, I thought 1:1 was a lot…  Today I bought six 4 lb bags of Domino Sugar from my local Stop and Shop… that certainly made for a fun conversation at check-out.

Two bags yielded 5 jars of syrup.  I figure they’ll be done with it in a week or so.

I’ll go back next Saturday because I also have to monitor for pests looking to settle in to the warm hive for the winter.  I spotted a long, gross 1” white worm wriggling around in one of my frames.  Oh, the horror! It was the larvae of the wax moth – urghh – a dreaded beast that can seriously damage the hive.  Thankfully I caught this early – and it wasn’t an ‘infestation’ per se – as I didn’t notice frass or webbing  –  but this is another thing to fret over!

My hive seems strong enough to protect itself – but I did take some extra measures.  I consolidated and moved hive bodies around.

rearranging hive bodies

I pulled all the frames with empty comb out, put the hive body with healthy brood on the bottom and the hive body with pollen and honey on top.

entrance reducer

I put back my entrance reducer and added the super for the syrup.

fall syrup

It’s so strange to have a set-up so similar to what I started with 5 months ago!  What a game of musical hives: from the independent Mavis and Sally, to the combined mega hive, to a modified hybrid, back to just Mavis (Sally is empty and will be prepped for a new package next spring)!

Mavis.9.16.2012

As the season gets cooler there will be more hive preparations, concoctions to be made and of course a myriad of unanticipated happenings!

Stay tuned!

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