This was my second year keeping bees, and with another year came a lot of new lessons. Below is a summary of my beekeeping season, my thoughts on the harvest, and my plans for next year.
Our spring started off very, very cold. Everything seemed to be about two weeks behind the whole summer, including the fireweed. The rest of the summer was fairly cloudy, with July starting off as the coldest on record. August and September were fairly nice, but it seemed like it was too little too late. Overall, there were a significant number of days that the bees didn’t venture out of the hive.
I ordered 4lbs of Carnolian bees with two queens from Steve Victors this spring. I planned to try his two-queen hive system where you separate the queens and get the bees to recognize the pheromones of both. Unfortunately, after my first hive check, one of the queens was gone (presumably killed). All the bees had moved into one half of the super, so I took out the vertical divider to give them more room.
I fed the bees sugar syrup through May. I added a second deep super in early June and a honey super a few weeks later. I checked the bees every ten days and switched the order of the deep supers to keep them from swarming. They created a few supercedure cells, but didn’t seem to get too excited about swarming. In mid-July I found the queen and put her in the bottom super and added a queen excluder. This allows I harvested honey around August 15th and ended up with about 15lbs. of honey. It was far from what I had hoped to get, but also far more than I got last year. I think the cold spring did not help in terms of population buildup, and we had more than a few cool days.
I’m going to try the double-queen system next year, and I may try to run another hive. I just need to see if I have enough drawn-out comb to make it worth my while. The goal for next year: 30lbs from a hive or 50lbs from two!