I headed up to Everett to pick up my extracted frames from Mike Doleshell on Sunday. My six full supers turned out 174 lbs of honey, just shy of 15 gallons: a fine, fine harvest, if I do say so m’self. (More info on the harvest process back here).
Mike was a bit late for our meeting, as he’s in the midst of his own harvest, and apparently fell off the side of his truck in the process of doing some loading. If his frequent winces and grimaces were anything to go by, he did himself a fair bit more damage than he wanted to let on. Thanks, Mike and heal!
Good egg that he is, though, he sat with me and answered all my questions, and the bits of wisdom so gathered, I’ll pass along:
It’s too late for me to add formic acid to control for mites. Formic acid is the stuff that ants produce, so considered safe and “organic”. Problem is, it’s heat dependent because it’s meant to evaporate into a gas, which is the way it works its magic on the mites. Sounds like I should have done that in late August / September, right after the harvest but before the cold set in.
He also related that a friend of his in North Carolina had good success with substituting his entire bottom board with a piece of 1/2″ hardware cloth stretched between a wooden rectangle. That means nothing solid on the bottom at all, just set the screened board on something over the ground and you’re good. I see the logic: the mites fall of the bees all the way to the ground and thus don’t make it back into the hive, but was surprised that having that big an opening for breeze to get in (the entire bottom board) would be OK.
I guess the bees just huddle for warmth and it doesn’t bother them (although you may not want to try this in Canada or northern Maine).
At first he thought I had a bad case of Nosema, from the stains on my frames, but when we established that I just didn’t scrape them from last year, he felt better about it. Not sure yet whether I’ll treat with that, as I really, really don’t like the idea of adding chemicals to the hive. If I do, it’s mixed in with sugar syrup and fed to them 2 tsp to a gallon.
I was unsure how much honey to leave in the hives over winter. Mike says rule of thumb is a full super / brood chamber’s worth. I left about half a super in each, so I figure I’ll have to feed them some sugar mid-winter sometime. I’ll check in on them around December / January and see how their stores are lasting.
Want a free hive of bees. A lady he knows wants to get rid of them. You can pick ’em up, they’re ready to go. Contact me and I’ll pass along her info.