Yard Visit End of June 2013

Hives with upper entrances and no signs of skunk predation.

Hives with upper entrances and no signs of skunk depredation.

I was away during the first 2 weeks of June. It was an awkward time to leave queenless hives. But even a beekeeper needs a vacation. And this one, to visit my son living in Hawaii, was planned more than a year before the bees got into trouble.

While away, the Wyoming summer arrived. Not through the process of a gradual spring. But typical Wyoming. It’s snowing one day. And 2 days later it’s 90 degrees with cloudless skies.

And it’s obvious the extreme drought is still with us. The late season snows have greened up the prairie. But July’s scorching sun will dry it up.

The Good News

It’s all good news this time.

  • all hives are queen right
  • my hot hive has mellowed out with their new queen
  • the combs are packed with yellow sweet clover honey
  • no signs of disease or pests
  • top entrances worked great
  • and I remembered to take my camera with me this time

Upper Entrances

A hive with a migratory bottom board used as a hive cover providing a top entrance

A migratory bottom board can be used as a hive cover to provide a top entrance.

I’m sold on them.

  • all skunk depredations are completely eliminated
  • it takes fewer bees and they spend less time fanning to control ventilation
  • tidy bees keep bottom boards clean regardless of entrance location
  • when properly smoked, they are no more defensive than a hive with a bottom entrance

Using a migratory bottom board as a cover:

  • provides a top entrance
  • eliminates the need for a separate migratory cover
  • the overhang shelters the entrance from sun and rain
  • it provides an elevated place to cluster when the bees need to hang out
  • and it allows for a more stable load when moving them

Drought

It’s a never ending aspect for a Wyoming beekeeper. The next 10 days are usually a scorching dearth for Wyoming bees.

Without agriculture’s snow based irrigation water it would be the end of the season. There’s usually just not enough bee forage available in the towns, along the few creeks, or mountains for any real honey production from here on out.

Moving

Keeping bees in the Casper area gets harder every year.

  • agriculture acreage is small to begin with and decreases each year
  • most alfalfa is grown by gentlemen farmers who frequently harvest at less than 10% bloom
  • the county and city spray everything
  • the farmers, to keep the hoards of drought driven grasshoppers at bay, keep everything else sprayed

So, I’m thinking of moving my bees to Riverton, in the Wind River Valley. I’ve got family there. They are near town, but not in an agricultural area. My bees will gain access to water, good forage, and be outside of any pesticide spraying. Compared to Casper, Riverton is a beekeeper’s paradise.

There, I could easily run a commercial sized beeyard. But no more than a dozen hives sounds about right. It’s just to easy to go back down that commercial beekeeping road. Been there. Done that.

Riverton bees? Better for the bees. But at 125 miles away, it’s harder for the beekeeper. I think I’ll be moving them soon. I’ll do what I can. So, they can do the best they can. It’s only natural. 😉

-bwguy