Sunday, October 14, 2007

Fall Follies

We don't have a tenant for the big, expensive house. However it is pristine clean! I'm thinking of advertising in the New Jersey papers and I'll carry through with listing it with my Realtor friend. I'm inured to taking it through the winter without a tenant, which will mean daily checks and multiple cleanings to keep up the condition.

The bees need some care and feeding. Since we're supposed to have a warmer winter they will be able to eat more stores and carry on with brood rearing through the winter. This means that the varroa mites will be able to reproduce and build up their predatory numbers. By spring we will have more dead hives. I will need to treat aggressively, soon, to allow them to raise the longer lived winter bees, who will fatten up and keep the hopefully varroa-free brood warm through the winter.

The asters, last of the goldenrod, and mature ivy are blooming right now, so the hives are bringing in some pollen and nectar. With the drought there is much less than is needed, so I have to supplement with pollen patties and honey substitute. Luckily I have both, having stocked up this past spring, anticipating transportation costs to drive prices up.

Fist I have to lower the varroa population. Not wanting to use chemicals, I could remove the current brood frames treat the broodless hives and let them then start over with cleaner, relatively varroa-free winter babies. My treatment could be powdered sugar or oxalic acid mixed with sugar water; both are residue free and natural in honey. Oxalic is used in a 3.5% solution, less than the 5% we see in our cooking vinegar. It acts by irritating the varroa, and less so the bees, who groom themselves of the mites by licking the syrup, scratching the mites off (or so we surmise). Oxalic doesn't work as well unmixed with syrup, so in some way being palatable to the bees makes it work better.
Pollen Patties will make up for this fall's lack. Large-scale beekeepers make it in mortar mixers; I make it in smaller scale in my stand mixer. There are so many recipes.
So... Off I go to get ready to do... Something.