Yard Report – September 2012

The Idea

A beautiful September day. And a great time to ride my bike out to the beeyard.

The days are warm to hot. But the nights are cool. It’s time for blankets and a comforter on the bed.

At night, cold mountain air flows down the canyons. And frost is a possibility in any low lying area. For my taste, it’s the best time of year. Not sun. Cold air.

Now:

  • there’s little native bee forage
  • agricultural areas dry up
  • city bees can still make a living
  • it’s time for a last peak into the hives
  • skunks outwit the beekeeper’s cactus deterrent
  • it’s time to pay some yard rent and visit the land owner

The Details

Forage

There are few native plants that provide bee forage now:

  • gumweed is gone
  • rabbitbrush is waning
  • and a few straggling sunflowers yield a little pollen

In the agricultural areas, alfalfa can sometimes yield a little nectar. But only a few patches, to short to cut, remain with blooms. And the temperatures are too cold for any kind of flow.

The bees fare better near town with its non-native floral habitat. They are still making a living. But by the end of the month that will change. Then, the bees will use the few flying hours looking for anything sweet.

Last Inspection

I had big plans to:

  • re-arrange some frames
  • fill the division board feeders with sugar
  • check the brood
  • do some mite counts
  • reduce entrances
  • nail down the lids for winter

But upon opening the hives:

  • the bees were so content
  • they were still making a living
  • only a few bees were working the sugar
  • no crawlers
  • no evidence of any mite problems
  • the hives are heavy for winter

So, I just:

  • closed them up
  • nailed down the lids
  • inserted entrance reducers

No real reason to disturb them by getting into the broodnest or moving frames now. It’s still warm enough for them to seal up any air leaks I’ve created. The bees are in great condition. So it’s time to just let them bee.

After the bees are confined by winter’s cold, I’ll return and wrap the hives for wind protection. And I’ll tip the hives forward by blocking up the back of the hive or pallet. That will be the end of this season. And the end of the monthly yard reports.

Skunks vs Cactus

The skunks have replace the cactus deterrent with their diggings and bee filled scat.

The skunks definitely win this one. All that transplanted cactus in front of the hives has disappeared without a trace. And so did most of the native cactus found there as well. Only a few small plants remain. And there’s not enough left to deter the skunks.

Where did that cactus go. Did it depart the area stuck to a critters hide? Hard to tell.

But except for a few natural cactus plants, the approach to my hives is bare. And the skunks are taking advantage of the situation.

In the past I would have dispatched them. But would prefer not to do it now. The drought has been tough on everything and the skunks are only trying to survive. Once the cold sets in, they are no threat to the bees.

Next year, I’m thinking of trying upper entrances built into the migratory covers. My commercial beekeeping experience with hives using a hole in the lid were never pleasant. But I’m will to make accommodations if that deters the skunks.

Anyone have any skunk proofing ideas?

Land Owner

I always enjoy visiting with the Durnell’s. Looking back, I’ve had a long association with Burt and Betty who have always welcomed me and my bees on their land. It’s almost been two decades since I setup my test yard there. Together, we have shared and witnessed many changes during that time.

  • my children grew up
  • the city encroached
  • we’ve all gotten older
  • floods
  • droughts
  • illness
  • joy of spring chickens
  • the river’s coolness breaking the summer’s heat
  • the smell of Burt’s wood burning stove on a winter day

Sadly, Burt is no longer with us.

Staying so long at one location is a rare occurrence in my beekeeping. Most yard locations last little more than a few years. Once I get a track into a remote corner, owners soon discover just how nice it is. The next thing you know, someone will build a house there. And it’s time to move the bees again.

But not so with the Durnell’s. They are great folks.

Take Care.

-bW

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2 responses to “Yard Report – September 2012”

  1. Pat says:

    Never have tried it myself, but I’ve read that if you drive a bunch of nails through a piece of plywood, spaced so a skunk can’t get it’s feet placed without hitting one, that’s a deterrent. You’ll have to place the boards correctly and the nails shouldn’t be so long that they go through YOUR feet.

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