As the weather cools, the bees are less active. They don’t fly much below 55 deg. F, and we’re starting to get a few days with dipping temperatures. In addition, few plants bother to flower this late in the season because they don’t have time to make seeds before winter comes. It is a good time to do a late-fall hive inspection.
I made an inspection of the beehives this weekend. The bees had been battling hive beetles. These are the equivalent of roaches for bees. These little beetles rob honey and are general nuisances. At the end of the last inspection, I put small microfiber towels in the top corners of the hive. In a strong hive, the bees heard the beetles to the corners. The beetles (and a few bees) snag their legs on the towels and get stuck. Each towel I pulled out this weekend had dozens of beetles stuck to them.
Another tactic to beat the beetles was to rake out the leaves and debris from beneath the hive. The beetles breed in the hive and the larvae grow in moist ground and ground cover. By raking it away, it dried out the ground, making the habitat unfit for pupating. I also sprinkled diatomaceous earth, which is the equivalent of glass shards for bugs: it scratches their exoskeletons and they dehydrate.
This month, the beetles had declined. I only saw a few left crawling around.
I am also feeding the hives 2:1 syrup. This means 2 parts sugar to 1 part water. This gives them a bit of a break from having to use their honey stores. My hives are full of honey; about 100 lb. in each. This should be plenty to get them through the winter.
And because videos are fun, here is a quick one showing the colony being put in the hive this last spring.