Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bees and Trains

The train track runs immediately behind the back fence. We were curious starting out whether this would disrupt the bees. As far as we can tell, the bees could care less about the quiet rumbling of the freight train. It doesn't generally bother the resident people, either, and small visiting children think the back yard train is the COOLEST thing.
(Picture from June 2008...drought evident on the lawn.)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Bee School Two

Just finished the second week of this year's bee school, which I attended this year as a volunteer. Learned some new things, but mostly celebrated how far I've come in a year. It was fun to be able to answer questions that the new students asked...and knowing that if nothing else, I'm a lot more confident about the bees than I was last year. Last year as school ended and I was ordering my bees I was completely terrified.

One Quart in One Week

The girls sucked down a whole quart of their own honey in a week's time. We have a couple frames of honey in the freezer that we'll put on in the spring. For now, we took the empty bottle off and added a bottle of sugar water (2 parts sugar to 1 part water). We'll probably use a 1:1 ratio next time. The bees have moved up in the hive over the winter, so they are clustered directly below the feeder now. You can see bees sitting on top of the frames in the picture below.
Here's the new sugar water with a few bees who leaked out the top. We took a stick and relocated them towards the front of the hive so they could go back home. No bee suit, smoker or fancy gear for this operation. Just a quick change of bottles and a little bee relocation.

We put the old honey jar in front of the hive for the last couple hitchhikers to go back in the entrance. Which they did.

I like the holes on these new caps. Smaller holes and more of them. Obviously a happy size for the bees, since they went through the honey so quickly. I can hardly wait for it to get warmer to peek in the hive. At this point, just trying to keep the girls from starving...the single largest threat this time of year.
POLLEN POSTSCRIPT: On warmer days there are bees flying into the hive with pollen on their legs...providing some protein that the queen will need for producing spring brood (babies). A couple trees are providing pollen right now...willows for one. Soon the maple trees will provide a huge burst of pollen.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Winter Feeding Update

Yesterday got warm enough that I peeked in, took the old mason jar of sugar water off the feeder and plopped on a big jar of their own honey. The sugar water was completely untouched and they had sealed up the holes. Hopefully, they have plenty to eat within the hive, but I'm wanting to be sure.

A friend's hive starved to death this winter...at least that is what the forensic evidence suggests. They had a jar of sugar water that they completely disregarded, too.

Hoping the honey is a better option for these cold days.

On the whole, still just leaving the hive alone as they huddle inside in their clump of bees, shivering to keep their inside hive temperature warm. They fly out on sunny days like yesterday, so there is still life in the hive!