This is a funny year - spring was too early; I started out with only five hives that made it through the winter. I ended up with 20 something. I've lost a lot to robbing or absconding. It's been a roller coaster of a year.
I went to Stonehurst last week to check on the bees (I had been three weeks earlier). I had left the strongest hive there (the only one that made it through the winter) with five boxes full of honey still to be harvested. Jeff and I had taken one box from the hive, but left the rest. The only reason I had left the honey was that he had not gone with me again and I couldn't lift the top box off of the hive.
When I arrived, the front of the hive was covered with wax shards and there was a pile of dead bees in front of the hive.
The entire huge hive had been totally robbed out. Not a drop of honey remained, nor a bee. There were still robber bees or foragers who missed the event milling around on the empty comb. Pitiful and so sad. I felt ill. I brought the ragged but beautifully drawn comb home to freeze and use next year.
So now, at Stonehurst we have lost one hive. At Sebastian's and Christina's house one of the two hives was robbed out and died. I'm feeding the remaining hive there with honey from last year.
The bees at Chastain have NO (read that absolutely none) honey in the hive. I am also feeding them honey from last year.
I put a feeder over the inner cover and put a stick at the front entrance to reduce it since I didn't bring an entrance reducer with me.
The bees at Morningside seem to be doing OK. I'm giving them water but they are bringing in nectar from whatever fall flow we may be having.
At my house, I lost the one big hive to robbing and another to queenlessness that I didn't notice in time. The top bar absconded. I only have three hives there, but all are doing well. I put entrance reducers on all of them after the large hive was robbed out and all of those bees are bringing in fall nectar.
And at Jeff's house where the four hives are that lived through the winter, we have tons of unharvested honey. All the hives have plenty of honey and appear to be bringing in fall nectar. We will probably harvest a little more from them when I get back from vacation at the end of September. We put entrance reducers on all of those hives.
So the good news is that the survivors appear to have honey except for Chastain. I have enough honey left from last year to keep feeding them honey instead of sugar water. The bad news is that I've lost a lot of bees this year - three or four at my own house (depends on how you count them), one at Stonehurst, one at Sebastian's, one at Blue Heron. I still have four hives at Jeff and Valerie's house, three at my house, two at Stonehurst, one at Sebastian's, two at Morningside Garden, one in Rabun County and one at Chastain. Maybe I can keep all of them alive until next spring. Then, if the nectar flow is good, Linda T's Bees should have a banner year in 2013.
I am a little worried about Chastain. None of the three hives there have honey. They are located next to a golf course and I'm wondering if the golf club maintenance contributes to the lack of available nectar. It's strange that they have nothing, but Sebastian's bees in East Atlanta have nothing either and they are not next to a golf course.