Friday, February 19, 2010

Always make sure you brush after sugary snacks...

So we're finally seeing the sun and some decent temperatures here in the Piedmont Triad. This entire week we've been snow-free, thank goodness, although it looks like we could have a chance of some snow next week. But as of right this moment, the temperature is 51 degrees, and the sun is shining bright. I'll most definitely take it! More please!

I noticed that my girls were all in front of the hive and enjoying the sun. They've been cooped up for months in the brood chambers..just waiting for spring to come so they can once again become a bustling colony. And I'm anxious to get back to working my hive, and if they can make it for another month, I'll split this one off as soon as the numbers are good. 

When I checked under the hood (like a good mechanic does) -- one thing I noticed is that the sugar syrup I put there weeks ago wasn't touched. They took some of it initially, but then as the weather turned cold again, they stopped. Afraid that they may cluster and starve because their stores are too far away, I decided to try the sugar feeding on the top of the frames. I can see where they've made their way up to the top chamber, so they're close enough to take the cane sugar just at the tops of the bars.

I read that newspapers can turn into a mess if you use the sugar feeding method, and that's the last thing I want -- an even more gummy hive. But then I read that wax paper is ideal for this method; it is easily removed when the feeding is over, it won't stain the frames with ink, and it won't get really soggy like newspaper from the humidity in the hive. Plus the bees can chew through it and clean it out when they need to.

So with wax paper, sugar, and a spray bottle of warm water in hand, I went out and set up the sugar method. I put down a sheet of wax paper, then a thin layer of sugar..and then I sprayed the sugar with warm water. Then another thin layer of sugar and a spritz of warm water. Then I repeated the process again for a third time. And for good measure, I decided to add a strip of Mega-Bee to the side in case they wanted it.

Well as you can see, some of the girls couldn't wait to get up there and see what it was all about. This picture doesn't really do this justice since the sugar had bees all over it..I just didn't snap the picture in time. So between this method of feeding and the light gray pollen they were bringing in while I was out there, I think they'll do just fine for now. By the way, the top chamber was full of bees that's under the paper and sugar, so maybe these girls in the picture took some of the goodies down and shared with the rest.

By the way, just a curiosity -- but click on the picture above, the one of the bees on the front of the hive. Take a good look at the bee on the landing board -- the one closest to the bottom of the picture. See her? She's thin and all by herself. You know, if I didn't know better, I would swear that she's a queen. She's not as wide as the rest and she seems to be thinner and longer. While I haven't seen my marked queen since last October, mainly because I left them alone when cold weather started to set it, I'm just wondering if this could be a new queen. I suppose the possibility exists that there could be a brand new queen in the midst of this colony. I'm just going into my second season of beekeeping so I'm a little unsure if this could be happening.

I'm open for ideas here. So give me your thoughts. What do you think?

I'll bee anxious to hear from you!


  1. Hey Mark. Isn't it great to see bees out flying. My Ora bees were out in force today and loving the sugar syrup from the boardman feeder. Still too cold to open the hive but maybe a quick peep under the inner cover tomorrow.

    Can't really tell about the bee you suspect might be a queen, but I doubt it is. However, I'm sure there are others out there who are way more knowledgeable than I and can advise.

    Hope your mild weather holds out and the snow doesn't come. There's a slight chance here on Sunday night.

  2. I don't think that is a queen, virgin or mated.... looks like it was just taking a big breath from a cleansing flight. I did notice you have some very nice cordovan bee genetics... those blond all golden yellow bees sure are neat to look at with the contrast of normal band bees...

  3. Hi Mark, Nice pictures. I don't see a queen on the landing. I expect that the bee that looks long and thin is about the same size as the others and looks that way because of camera angle.

    It would be highly unusual for a queen to be on the landing unless she were leaving or returning from a mating flight and since there are no drones in the hives at the moment or in the drone congregation areas, no queen would be on the landing.

    Usually the queen's body is markedly longer and wider than that of the other bees. The worker's carry out the queen's waste so she never leaves the hive unless for a mating flight or to swarm.

  4. Glad your bees look so great... I don't think it's a queen either. My bees didn't make it this year, but I'll start again next month. Tough year...



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