As many of us prepare for the school year and autumn, our honeybees are still quite busy with the same tasks they've been at all summer. The only difference is that we are seeing more and more honeycomb.
Although pollen and nectar are a bee's main source of food, she and the others will get honey in the comb to get them through winter, when nectar and pollen are not available. Why honey? It can last forever. Really, forever. Honeybees get the humidity/moisture levels in the honey to 17-18% and then put a cap on it. We know that honey preserves amazingly at this point.
Above you can see some capped honeycomb. Below, you can see that this honey is not capped, meaning that the bees know it is not at the correct level of moisture. If harvested before it is capped, honey is certainly above that level and can ferment. Bees are so smart, aren't they?
You may be thinking, "If honey can last forever, why does it crystallize in that little bear bottle in the back of my cupboard?" Worry not - it's not spoiled or stale! Put the whole jar or bottle in a warm pot of water (so it's not in direct heat), sort of like a double boiler. Patience...and liquid honey once again!
At this point, during inspections, we're looking to see how the bees are coming along with storing honey. You might remember that we need to leave at least 60 pounds of honey for them to have a chance to make it through winter (though there are many factors on which their survival depends).
The middle hive got another box! You can see that the other hives are coming along much more slowly. We're not confident they will make it through winter - it's just that feeling that they're not quite strong enough. That middle hive, though, is just plain strong.
As we approach autumn, things will start to slow down, but we're not ready for the harvest just yet. Maybe Minnesota weather has a bit of warmth still in store.
The kids, meanwhile, are as busy as ever.
Have a great week!