I have come to learn that late summer is a tough time for bees in Birmingham. Although the hives are bringing in some pollen, the nectar sources literally dry up come August. Two of the newer hives have demonstrated their starvation by ejecting dead brood, so I decided to feed all the hives syrup. The nucs seem to be hanging in there, but it has become more apparent over time that nuc #2 is doing better than the others. There is substantial pollen being brought into all the full-sized hives and nuc #2, but not into nucs #1 or #3.
I combined nuc #3 with #2, and installed the frames of nuc #1 with another hive. Newspaper inserted between the nucs allows them to get used to each other before the bees completely intermingle. I put a few slits in the paper before combining the hives.
I haven’t done a good job caring for the hives in late summer. This year I starved two of the nucs into queenlessness, and two other new hives also suffered; and last year I overfed the new hive until it swarmed – twice. I found that hefting the back of the hive is a good way to determine whether bees have enough honey to get by. I still think making summer splits is a good idea, with numerous bees, warm weather, and plenty of time to get the hives ready for winter. However, I have learned that nutrition is a critical matter at this time of the year. Next year I’ll do better.