Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pollen gathering

Two days ago we took Jessica out to see the hive.  We wanted to check the sugar-water supply in the coffee can.  It was still practically full, a week after the last check.  Jess noted the huge, bright yellow pollen sacks on the incoming bees as well as some white pollen.  There just are not many flowers blooming right now (crocuses, daffodils), at least in our immediate yard, but as Kathy pointed out the bees can fly beyond our property so they are getting the pollen somewhere.  A few of the early trees are beginning to bud out. Jess said the silver maples are blooming, so my guess is they are getting much of this from trees.
We pulled the tray out from under the screened bottom board to check the mite situation.  It had been over a week since I had cleaned it off and we found quite a few mites, along with many clumps of pollen that had fallen down.  I would say there were probably 1-2 mites per square inch on the board, which is not a sticky board by the way.  Several were crawling around.  I will put some paper in there today and monitor that for the next two days.
The bees should be busy--temps are way above normal, approaching 80 today and tomorrow.  Things will really start blooming if this keeps up.  Sure glad we reversed hive bodies now.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Bees in funny places

After seeing the bees in the bird feeder, we have now seen them elsewhere in seemingly strange places. We have two large, rolling-type composter bins. They have drainage holes all over and we put composting materials in them year-round. The bees have been going in them like crazy. I suppose fruit peelings and moisture are the attraction. Yesterday we saw several at a time on a brown canvas cover over a woodpile. It had rained the night before and there were small pools of water in the folds and that is where the bees were found, getting the water. Even though there is a pond just down the hill from the hive, I guess they will seek it where they can find it. It's fun seeing "our" bees all over the place. I know they are ours, too, since we used to never see honeybees around. I can't wait for the first good bloom.
Temps last night in mid-twenties but 70's for highs promised next week!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Reversed hive bodies

Well, it was over 60 degrees and sunny today. I thought we would just switch out the sugar water feeder, but found it was still very heavy. So, since it was so nice, we fired up the smoker and decided to reverse #1 and #3 hive bodies. Bees were really flying, though about the only thing I am aware of that is blooming is some crocuses and a couple blossoming dandelions. There may be some early trees but I don't know what exactly.
We took the top super off, which houses the feeder, then removed the inner cover. There were a lot of bees. I removed one frame from the middle to examine. There were still capped honey cells, though there were many empty ones as well. We pulled the top hive body off and set it aside. It was still quite heavy. We saw some larvae, always a good sign. I pulled out the middle one, which was also pretty heavy, and more larvae. After pulling the bottom off the bottom board, we needed to clean that off since there were still matted bees over about 1/4th of it. We moved quickly but carefully, put everything back together and then left them alone.
Very impressed with these bees. There were thousands in the hive, remarkable. We will have to watch closely when there is a pollen run because they might want to swarm, but having switched the hive bodies I feel a lot better. The bottom one was very light, and now is on top so they will have some work to do filling that one out. Then we will need to split in late April, when our queen arrives. We have ordered a Minnesota hygenic queen. They are supposed to be very well behaved and mite resistant. We will keep our fingers crossed.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Feeding time

After much reading and debate, I decided to begin feeding today. High was 60 degrees, sunny, and the bees were really out flying. This early, and with snow still in little patches in the ditches, there is nothing blooming but spring plants are sticking up through the soil now and it won't be long there will be some flowering plants. The temps are to stay above freezing all but one day early next week, so I decided to go ahead with a 2:1 sugar water feed. I also decided, with the warmth, to take a little deeper look into the hive. So far, I have only peeked under the outer cover.
Bees were really flying as I went out to the hive, as you can see in this image. I removed the insulation but kept the tape on the seams that I had under the insulation. There was still a pile of watery sugar under the outer cover that I had put a couple weeks ago and there were probably 100 bees on top of the inner cover. I smoked, then removed the inner cover. I saw a lot of bees, between each frame on my top of 3 medium hive bodies. I pulled one of the outer frames to examine and saw mostly empty comb, a little uncapped honey. I should have looked at more, but I wasn't wanting to keep things open too long. So I decided to put the inner cover back on, add a super above (which I insulated with styrofoam again, on the inside this time) and added a coffee can of sugar water right above the oblong opening of the inner cover. Then I closed things up.
I think things look good. If we continue to get warmth, we will get blooming plants and the bees will be very happy. Later, I was out walking past my birdfeeders and saw bees all over the seed, no birds! The bees, however, were literally rolling in the seed, I imagine gathering up corn pollen? I had recently heard (or read on one of the message boards about bees) that someone had worried about bees in their birdfeeder. Now I see it for myself. They were also all over the ground, where spilled seed and seed shells litter the ground. I guess they are desperate right now. The birdfeeder is almost 300 feet from the hive. So I know they are getting out and about!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Spring coming????

Still a lot of snow on the ground, but with daytime temps near 40 and sunny, with the weekend to be above freezing day AND night, it feels like the end is drawing near.
I went out yesterday with the temp near 40 degrees, lifted the lid, saw a nice mass of LIVE bees around the oblong hole of the inner cover. I poured about a cup of sugar on the inner cover. Several bees were out making cleansing flights. I see no brown staining around on the snow or on the front of the hive, so nosema does not seem a problem right now at least. Fingers crossed. If this group of bees makes it through this winter with noob beekeeps working them, this is a group I want to see continue.
I did remove the fencing from around the hive. I don't know if that was wise since I smelled a skunk just yesterday evening but I will monitor it closely.