Last time I wrote that I was putting in a bee escape in the Ethel hive. I have been concerned about Ethel’s viability. (I put the escape in correctly with the diamond side down.)
I just don’t know what to think anymore.
The Bee escape was a bust. I went back a few days later and took out the escape. The top super, still full of honey, was still full of bees. The escape was clogged with dead bees. There is obviously something wrong inside of Ethel.
The top super is still chock full of bees. I took out the queen excluder. Every time I take the lid off, the area above the top board has many actively moving bees. I can see down through the hole that the top super has lots of active bees.
Very little activity happens at the entrance. I have an entrance reducer set to the wide feeder slot so that bees can defend the entrance better. For a while I saw bees dragging out yellow jackets in a life and death struggle, but there is close to zero activity at the entrance now.
I have a yellow jacket trap near the hive. I was worried that it would kill bees as well, but it quickly filled with yellow jackets and no bees. There are no yellow jackets around at all now. If you get a yellow jacket trap, get the $10 or $15 one. The cheap $5 one did nothing.
It has been well over two months since I noticed that Ethel was slowing down. She was once the most active hive and the only one to move up to more than one super. I am suspicious that she was a victim of her own success. I fed the hives when the it was raining almost every day and I think that Ethel put away too much honey, becoming “honey bound”. What happens is that all the comb has honey and there is no room for the queen to lay eggs for brood. A couple of months later the population starts to drop very fast.
I was watching just now and I saw a worker bee loaded with pollen enter the hive. That is supposed to be a sign that the colony is viable. I saw a queen cell surrounded by bees when I put in the bee escape, and it seemed empty when I took out the bee escape. Could it be that the hive is still working?
It is nearly October. There is less than a month for the bees to gather pollen and get ready for winter. I don’t know how their population changes at this time of year. I read that the brood from October is a different kind of worker that is able to make it through the whole winter. The weather here has started to cool, maybe the queen will be laying eggs for workers that will overwinter. If this is true then maybe Ethel will have a chance.
I am thinking about an October feeding, which is supposed to be thick sugar, possibly with some medicine in it so that the hives will make medicated honey for the winter. I am not enthusiastic about putting medicine in the sugar, and I will have to ponder this.