Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Feeding my bees at night! Oh yes, they were wide awake...

Sometimes it seems like there just isn't enough time in the day for me, especially after Labor Day comes. At the television station where I work, we cover lots of fall events, festivals and such. Then once Halloween passes, we go full speed ahead through the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's holidays. I will get this coming Thursday off for Thanksgiving, but otherwise, its just a regular work week.

Reidsville, the city where I live, held its annual Christmas parade this past Saturday. I was one of the on-air talents and so I was busy all day getting ready..and had no time to check on my colony. For the past week, I wanted to get down there and check on how they're doing, but one thing or another came up and so I got sidetracked. I also wanted to refill the hive-top feeder which was probably empty.

Of course, the weather was beautiful, albeit cold during the parade, but afterwards.. the rains came. And it has been raining non-stop ever since. This has been the rainiest late summer and fall that I can remember in years, and I guess Mother Nature is making up now for lost time. 

While my girls have a really nice winter store of honey going on in the hive, I'm one of those "what if" people. You know, what if it gets really nasty weatherwise in the next few months? What if I'm not careful and they starve to death? What if this.. what if that? So even though they have lots of honey, I mean packed, my cautious judgement tells me to keep the feed bag on. I think that as long as the temperatures stay fairly warm I will continue to feed them to make sure they're okay. 

So while I was sitting at home tonight (10:30) I had a grand idea! Why not feed my girls tonight? After all, they're all resting and snug inside the hive. The temperature was 48 degrees and it was raining.. so why not run out, throw some syrup in the feeder and come back in the house? It would take all of five minutes and I wouldn't need a veil. So I made some syrup and while it cooled, I headed for the hive with a flashlight. And as I made my way, I thought to myself, surely the guard bees will stay in and not worry about what was making those slight noises outside. They're probably asleep. Right?


I got the hive top off and the inner cover off.. and that's when I could hear the slight buzzing start. As I started pouring the syrup in the feeder and occasionally flashing the light on the reduced entrance, I began to notice one bee come out, then two bees, and then more and more. Apparently feeling the vibrations, they decided to come out and see just what the heck was going on. By this time a fine mist was falling, so I hurried up to get the tops and the brick weights back on. Oh yeah, by the time I got everything back together, a healthy number of curious girls had started piling out of the hive entrance.. and I knew it was time to head for the house. While I knew they wouldn't fly very far from the hive if they flew at all.. I was practically standing just inches from it, so I figured they could possibly get up my pants or up my shirt sleeves, so I said to myself that it was time to go. And I did just that.

I have to admit that I do feel better that I got my girls fed. And I'm glad they'll have something to occupy their time during this nasty weather. But I learned a lesson. Even in colder weather, and even at night, your bees are going to check out those knocks and bumps. So if you're going to feed them or do some work around the hive, please, do it in the daytime. That or be prepared to take off if they decide to come out to take care of the situation!

To all my friends in the States and Canada, a Happy Thanksgiving to you all!


  1. Hi Mark - I'm always glad when my fellow beekeepers admit to minor goofs. Lets me know I'm not alone. I look back over the past 2 years of beekeeping and just have to laugh at some of the blunders I've made.

    I hope you enjoy the holiday season (try not to work too hard) and have a wonderful Thanksgiving, my friend. Lynn

  2. Happy Thanksgiving! Interesting story about your feeding. We've been getting hit by storms and gales - worst flooding in parts of Ireland and the UK in living memory. Bring on the spring!

  3. Hi again - I looked up the station's website which appeared on the photo in this post and was watching some of video clips. I hadn't realised that you were in front of the camera. It must be a such huge change from working in law enforcement. Best of luck

  4. Lynn: Oh yeah, I'll readily admit to my errors. But I learned that even with weather in the 40s and at night too, hey, you better not get too comfy that you have free reign around the hive, haha! It don't work that way. Don't eat too much turkey, Lynn! I hope you and your family have the best day ever, and fun at those weekend Christmas sales!

    Cliff: I actually worked in radio through high school and for a few years afterwards. Then I went to law enforcement training and became a deputy Sheriff, then when I got out of that because of my health, I went back to broadcasting. Mind you, I worked part-time in broadcasting (TV) all through my career as a deputy..so I never really gave it up. Glad you got to see some clips. Hope you enjoyed them! And hope you're doing well too!

  5. Happy Thanksgiving to you too Mark. I hope you enjoy the holiday. Glad the rain held off for the parade.
    I'm still feeding my bees to, even though I've winterized the hives. They're still bringing in pollen!!! And for getting out to see the bees, I had to take many holiday days or hours so I could leave work early just to get to the hives when it wasn't raining.

  6. Hey Mark, I often wondered what would happen if I went into a hive at night. Thanks for doing the research..

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and everyone else who reads your blog.

  7. Hey Steve, glad that I could do the official research for you, haha! So now you know...the girls may not be coming and going at night...but believe me, they're well aware of what's going on in their house.

    Hey Barbara! Good to hear from you! Yes, I'm still feeding now which leads me to believe that they'll have way more than enough to get them to spring. Especially with November being so warm here, I think they'll have plenty of food until spring. Take care up there in the cold North!

    To everyone who observes, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

  8. Hi Mark! I can't believe you fed the girls at night! We're about past the point of feeding here, but I need to remove a few things and tighten up the hives. Hopefully tomorrow will be just the day for it. Thanks for your visit, and Happy Thanksgiving to you!



Thanks for visiting Mark's Bees. Feel free to leave your thoughts and ideas on my posts. I'm always open for ideas from other beekeepers.

All comments are moderated to eliminate spam so that's why they may not appear instantly.

Thanks again and please visit often!