Don’t let your bee hives starve

In our area of the country, queen bees start laying a few eggs in January and increase the number in February. And hives start consuming more as brood rearing begins in late winter/early spring. Make sure your hives don’t starve.

Starvation

With no forage in our region, hives often starve in February, March and April. So we check our hives and make sure they have enough honey. And if they don’t, we can give them emergency feed. There are many options for feeding: commercially purchased winter patties, fondant (which may be easier for the bees to digest) or sugar either in a brick or loose dry sugar form.

Sugar Brick Recipe

This year I made some sugar bricks using Lauri Miller’s recipe, which she posted on the Beesource website and the Bee-L email list:

25# cane sugar
one scant quart cider vinegar
About 1 tsp of electrolytes with vitamins
1-2 T citric acid or ascorbic acid blends
splash of pro Health or other scented essential oil of choice

Mix with a 1/2″ drill and paint paddle until well blended. Mix should be soft have the texture of  snow..not wet. Fill pans and compress with roller.DO NOT cook. Allow to air dry, dry about 100- 110 degrees in food dehydrator or dry in slightly warm  oven for several hours.

In my climate my bees can get out fairly regularly in winter for cleansing flights. I top my bricks  with dry bee pro. I do NOT mix protein into the block, only sift it on top so they are not forced to eat it when they are not rearing brood.

My only comment is that I mixed too much Honey Bee Healthy in mine. So they smell delicious, but I’m also pretty sure they could start some robbing.

Hive check video

Here’s a video of me checking hives in the home beeyard the other day:

Happy beekeeping!!

Honey and Pollen For Sale

BA’s Bees LLC is now beginning to sell  honey and pollen! The number of out hives has been growing for a few years and with all the honey and pollen our hardworking bees have collected, we are going to start sharing the (delicious) bounty.  If you are interested in pricing information, please email us at BAsBeesAndHoney at gmail.com.

Sorry, we’re not shipping at this time: only local pickups and deliveries. But email us – if we get enough requests, maybe we’ll reconsider! 

 

Undertaker bee drama

Each worker bee performs a number of tasks in her hive as ages. She starts by cleaning her cell as she emerges, and (an incomplete list in no particular order) feeds larvae, guards the entrance, takes nectar from foragers and places it in cells, heats brood to keep it from chilling, fans the hive on hot days to cool it off, fans the hive to evaporate the moisture off the nectar to turn it into honey, forages for water, pollen, tree resin and nectar.

Undertaker Bee

One important job is to remove dead bees and debris from the hive. If bees allowed detritus and dead bees to remain in the hive, bacterial, viral and fungal levels would increase. So the bee who removes dead bees is called an “undertaker bee” at least while she’s performing that job. This is an especially big task for bees in the spring  when they are able to emerge out of the cluster they have to stay in in cold weather and they start to address all the bees that died over the winter in the hive.

Here’s a brief video of an undertaker bee trying to take advantage of the Kenyan Top Bar hive being open for feeding. I just couldn’t let her keep struggling. Gotta help a sister out! (Yep, imma bee hugger.)

Happy beekeeping everybody!

How bees collect pollen

A honeybee collects yellow pollen from a willow flower. She has pollen in her pollen baskets and a dusting of pollen on her head and body.
Messy eater. A bee forages from a willow bloom.

How do bees collect pollen?

Honey bees use their jaws and legs to get pollen off of plants and onto themselves, adding a little honey stomach liquid to make it sticky. Additional pollen may cling to their hairy bodies by static electricity: bees are slightly positively charged an pollen is slightly negatively charged. The bees use their front and middle legs to groom off the pollen and deposit it on the inside of their back legs onto pollen combs. The pollen combs are on the inside of the back legs are are made up of numerous hairs. Then the bees rub their back legs together and transfer and pack the pollen into the pollen baskets on the outside of their back legs. The pollen basket is a little depression in the outer tibia surrounded by hairs. You can see the bee in the above photo has a “lump” of pollen on her hind leg: that’s pollen in her pollen basket. When the pollen basket is full, she will return to the hive, back up into a cell, and deposit the pollen pellets.

Best beehive location, Part 2.

Welcome future (or current) beekeeper! If you are really considering keeping bees, you have to figure out where the best beehive location is in your situation.  The rule of thumb in beekeeping is that you can “move a hive 3 inches or 3 miles” but anything in between is more challenging. While those numbers are not an exact science, it is true that bees orient by the sun and landmarks to where their home is. So if you move a hive 50 feet in a day without some special manipulations, your foraging bees are going to return to empty space, where their hive once was. And now your hive just lost hundreds or thousands of foraging bees. Also, moving a hive full of thousands of bees is not for the faint of heart. It’s almost impossible to have every ideal criteria met when locating your hives, but consider all the factors and pick the best place for your hives within the constraints you have, before you get those bees in the spring.

Continue reading “Best beehive location, Part 2.”

Where is the best beehive location? Part 1

So you’ve committed to beekeeping and picked out your hive style, you now have to figure out, “Where should I put my beehive?” There are actually a surprising number of factors to think about when choosing a site for your bees. Your location may have many limitations, but even in a small space, thinking this out ahead of time may save you the headache of having to move them later or even the heartache of losing your bees. It is much easier to start with your bees in the best beehive location than having to move them later.

Continue reading “Where is the best beehive location? Part 1”