Sunday, May 20, 2012

watching the bees dance

It's just time to watch the bees do what bees do right now. I have cleaned the comb and propolis from the other set of hives and supers I have sitting on my back deck. Who knew they would try to make a home here? I had been turning on the hose close to the empty hive and heard a buzzzzzz.... I opened it up and there was comb and stray bees... I actually don't think these were from my hive, they looked different more black, less like mine. I have decided to move the extra hive I have over onto cinderblocks and "bait" it for a swarm. We'll see if anything pops. I am putting queen pheromones inside it to try to attract one. Keep ya posted. Here are a few pics of me working the comb off the hive where they had put it on the lid.

removing wax from the lid 
As you can see I scraped out off the wax they had put in and then re-stacked the hive boxes and put the lid on. If there is an "opening" it's not an easy one to access.

Right now I'm just letting the bees work. I assume all is well inside the hive from the activity I've been watching on the outside. It was cold and dreary here the past couple of days. Not so cold that sitting outside in a hoodie was impossible or that I had my garden was in danger of freezing. Honestly we have been getting seasonal weather rather than the extra warm weather we've been

enjoying most of the late winter and spring. We got buckets of rain on Friday night, it was nice. On Thursday it was in the 80's, go figure. I'm curious about the bees though, and while I know better than to open the hive too often, I have set a bench on wheels next to it so I can watch and take pictures as they go in and out. On Wednesday it was also quite warm, and while sitting watching them go in and out of the door guard I decided it was time to take it off. There was a line of several bees at a time awaiting getting in, and I noticed that they had pulled one side of it out so they could squeeze in. My opinion on this was that if they were wiggling in and out of the space they created, the hive was strong enough to take the door guard off. I have been continuing to feed them a 1:1 ratio of sugar syrup. They seem to be going through a pint of it every few days.
with entrance guard 

without entrance guard 
     I have been taking about 45 minutes to an hour each day to sit on my bench and just watch them. I'm not a drooling idiot, I promise. I'm actually sitting quietly counting. Of course not the amount of bees, that would be highly unproductive. What I have been doing is counting in groups of 10 to 100, and in those counts I make note of how many bees have been foraging and are coming back with loaded pollen sacks on their legs. I also have been checking out the color of the pollen, just for kicks. I note that the bees coming from the South side of the yard (likely over the fence) are covered in yellow pollen, I also note that some over the fence to the North have yellow.

The bees who have been to the West and East seem to have white. I think the bees to the West are collecting
pollen from my raspberry bushes, which is white,
Bee foraging in the raspberries
 I know because I sat on the deck and watched the bees on the bushes become covered in white pollen. It's also interesting to note that many of the bees that were not honey bees in the bushes.
I began to take count o the bees who came back with pollen before I took off the entrance guard.

I counted (estimated of course) around 10 per
100 on about Tuesday, maybe 15-20 onWednesday and as soon as I took off the entrance guard, it seemed like it doubled in a day! Then we had the cold snap on Saturday, with nothing but rain, the hive was not as active. 

However, today, Sunday, we've been busy in the garden finishing up the herb boxes and potato boxes my darling man has built for me, I took the opportunity to take a break sitting on 

the bench with the camera. I was able to do my count and visual assessment of the hive. Today's count on the bees with pollen was WAY UP! It's every other bee today! Yay! I was a bit worried about my bees to be frank when I was doing my "count" earlier this week with the very low amount of bees I saw with pollen on them, today I'm MUCH more enthusiastic! So I of course took some snap shots. I will also give you a couple pieces of advice. First and foremost, bees usually just make a "bee-line" to their door! So, if you are gonna sit and watch them, it is likely a good idea to sit to the side. I didn't bother with any gear of any sort, since I'm setting around 3 feet from the hive, and just sitting quietly watching them. The biggest deal was the cats who wanted to sit by me and were intrigued by the bees. But you want to sit back a bit so that the bees don't get confused and land on you, so don't sit in front of the entrance :) I am again going to be out of town a few days again and feel confident that they will be fine while I'm gone. I'll feed them before I leave and if they need to be refilled I'll leave it for my husband or son to fill. It's a front feeder, so it's easy to take off and fill.

So, everyone have a safe and happy Memorial day, see ya on the flip!

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