After inspecting our hives weekly during May and then monthly into mid-summer, we left the bees to their own bees-ness during the remainder of summer and fall. This was in part because they appeared to be doing well, in part it was also because we were so busy ourselves.
A few weeks ago a visitor who had yet to see our hives prompted us to peek through our observation windows. As the little shutter came open on the Carny hive, we found about 20 dead bees nestled against the window pane. Oh? Next I was alarmed to notice a large opening to the hive at the corner of the window and a big wide gap between the window and frame that the bees had filled with orange-red propolis.
The bees in the Carny hive are prone to attaching each comb to the side walls – despite the steeply angled side walls meant to prevent exactly this behaviour. (The Italians tend not to do this). We figured that the window was slowly pulled inward as the combs contracted in the cooling fall weather. The glue holding the window to the frame eventually failed under the tension, allowing an air gap to begin forming. The bees have been working hard (poor things) to fill this gap, but the spot at the corner was probably too large to fill.
I wonder how the bees are faring? We did not harvest any honey and hope they have enough to tide them through the winter. Time to look up what-next for Winter 1 of our top bar hives.
Comments and suggestions welcome!