Overall this has been a good year for the honeybees. We increased our colony numbers from 3 to 5 and they produced much more honey that usual although most of that was early in summer. August was not such a good month for two reasons; firstly it continued to be very dry and the pond at rosybee dried up which meant the bees going further to find water, secondly there have been vast numbers of wasps this year and they have been attacking the hives since early August. Wasps try and rob the honey but in the process waste a lot of the bees energies in defending the hives. Help them we have put the winter doors in to reduce the size of their entrance and have surrounded the hives with 'wast traps' (bottles of dilute jam and washing up water).
In spite of our attemps to protect them we have lost one of our smaller hives which, yesterday, we found completely without honey and no sign of the queen. We merged the remaining bees and brood in with another hive in an attempt to salvage some of them. The other hives are all low on honey too so we are not taking any autumn harvest from them at all.
Today it is raining so that will give the bees some rest from the wasps and hopefully the wasps will now begin to die off allowing the bees to forage in peace and lay down some winter reserves.
The bees and our Denman College site do not seem to have suffered with the wasps and we took two supers worth of honey at the weekend; really rich and toffee flavoured - yum.