Introduction:

BEEKEEPING IN THE NORTHEAST - An account of my beekeeping, not a treatise of expertise, but for friends & family who wish to keep bees vicariously through me, and for the occasional apiarist passer-by.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

October

This is actually from spring, but doesn't
she look like she's been "Trick or Treating"?
The temperatures have been very cold, but in our neck of the woods not freezing. Yesterday was sunny and beautiful and so I set out a final heavy 2:1 sugar water mix, knowing these next several days will be mild enough for the bees to take it in and process it. My two small colonies almost immediately downed 4 pounds of syrup. Normally I don't have to feed, certainly not this late in our area. Most feeding should come to a halt by October 15 or when daytime temperatures are consistently 50F or thereabouts. This is when the bees begin to cluster. Time has run out for processing the moisture out of a syrup mix, even at 2:1.

Out on Red Path several of these sinister fellows pictured below, sat on the porch of two hives in particular. Paper Wasp populations peak in the fall and they can fly at colder temperatures than bees, so be wary of these predators.

They and other types of wasp will kill a honey bee colony and I've lost more than one in the late fall due to their aggressive tactics. The beekeeper is greeted with quite a horror show: headless bees, their thorax eaten out.

I've read a study done (will link to it when I locate it). The wasps seem to understand killing the queen is a winning strategy, so they seek her out. They dismember the honey bees, eating and carrying away what they can.

File:Wasp May 2008-11.jpg
My mouse guards, presently, are 1/4 inch hardware cloth but after seeing them stalking this morning I may use something more restricting in hopes they won't be able to get through as easily. These are big, strong hives going into winter with plenty of honey so my hope is they can handle the wasp. Photo right from Wikipedia Creative Commons: Paper Wasp

My winter hearty New England bees were flying sparingly this morning at around 48F degrees, but I believe the wasp can fly at 45F. Here is an interesting read from the UK about Wasp Attacks..