It was zero degree Celsius today (also known as the temperature at which water freezes). It was also extremely damp and miserable. Not a bad day to see if visual inspections of the clusters match the thermal images from my Flir One for Android camera device. Not a bad day to make some pre-winter adjustments to some of my hives too.
Hive #1. Other than dropping in some sugar over the top bars in a week or two, and maybe wrapping the hive, Hive #1 is just the way I like it.
A word about that top cover. Yup, it’s a piece of plywood I found in the corner of my shed. I put something heavy on top to keep it in place, but that’s it. I’ve had it on the hive for several months now, always meaning to replace it with a real top cover but never getting around to it. I may leave it on the hive all winter. Why not? The inside of the hive is warm and dry. Whether it’s a commercially made telescoping top cover dipped in wax with a metal cover, or a dirty piece of scrap plywood taken from a junk heap, it doesn’t seem to make any difference to the bees.
By the way, all these images are low-resolution to match the low resolution of the Flir One.
Hive #2 is a new colony started up from a nuc in July and, like all of my nuc-colonies, it’s in fabulous shape. I’ll give it some sugar cakes in a few weeks, but I don’t think it needs them.
It took some fiddling with my Flir One to get those hot spots to jump out like that. The image was not created with the default automatic settings. Anything other than the automatic settings, while eventually producing images that seem okay, probably require too much fooling around for people who aren’t tech-savvy.
The bees in the next hive, that we’ll call Hive #3, seem to be avoiding the bottom deep completely. I hope it doesn’t mean the bottom deep is empty or a mouse is scaring them up. It could be a tricky situation either way.
I may remove the hard insulation on this and all the other hives and replace it with a moisture quilt if I notice any dampness building up inside.
Hive #4 with the cluster favouring the top deep as well for whatever reason (I’m not too concerned):
Hive #5 is a big 3-deep colony full of honey and packed with bees, most which seem to be in the bottom deep:
All of that looks great to me. The bees are deep down in the hive with about two deeps of honey on top of them to keep them alive all winter. The final hive, Hive #6, didn’t get any adjustment, but maybe later in November.
All of this probably seems boring to casual beekeepers or wannabe beekeepers who tend to idealise beekeepers like we’re all a bunch of Zen Buddhists totally at peace with the world, unhurried on a some serene mountain top where the sun always shines and the bees never sting us in the face. But most of the time it’s this kind of thing, basic beekeeping chores that amount to keeping a close eye on mundane things.