Yard Report – September Year 1

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

Days are still warm to hot, but it’s cool at night, as very cold, mountain air flows down the canyons at night. Any low lying area is at risk for a hard freeze. For my taste, it’s the best time of year. Hot 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 decimate hives
  • it’s time to pay yard rent
  • and visit the land owner

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 sometimes yield a little nectar, in a few protected patches that where too short to cut. But the temperatures are too cold for any kind of flow.

The bees fare better near town where they are still making a living. But by the end of the month, that changes. Then, the bees use the few remaining 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 docile
  • were still making a living
  • little sugar consumed
  • no crawlers
  • no evidence of any mites
  • are heavy for winter

So, I closed them up and inserted entrance reducers.

There’s no reason to disturb them. The bees can seal up any air leaks I’ve created. And they are in great condition. So it’s time to let them bee.

I’ll return and wrap the hives for wind protection when it’s too cold for bee flight. And I’ll tip the hives forward by blocking up the back of the hive or pallet.

That’s the end of this season. And the end of the monthly yard reports for awhile.

Skunks vs Cactus

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

The skunks definitely win this one. The transplanted cactus, placed in front of the hives, has disappeared. Only a few small plants remain.

But, except for a few natural cactus plants, the approach to my hives is bare. Where did that cactus go. Did it depart the area stuck to a critters hide? Hard to tell.

The skunks are taking advantage of the situation.

In the past, I would have dispatched them. But not now. The drought was tough on everything. The skunks are trying to survive. Once the cold sets in, they are no threat to the bees.

Next year, I’m trying upper entrances using migratory covers. My commercial beekeeping experience with inadvertant upper entrances wasn’t pleasant. But I’ll use them if it deters the skunks.

Anyone have any skunk proofing ideas?

Land Owner

I always enjoy visiting the Durnell’s, the landowners of my beeyard. Looking back, Burt and Betty have always welcomed me and my bees on their land. It’s been two decades since I set up 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 rare in my beekeeping. Most yard locations last just a few years. Once there’s a track into a remote area, owners and especially their adult children discover just how nice it is. The next thing you know, it’s a site for a new house. And it’s time to move the bees again.

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

-bW