Bees, so many, many bees

The hives owner (Son 2) purchased screen bottoms with slide out boards for the hives. He thought that is what he had purchased initially, but the hives came with a solid bottom base piece. Yesterday, my spinning friend/bee mentor came over to help me examine the hives and install the new screen bottoms with out the slide out boards for the warmer weather. We had the smoker but never lit it. The spring bees are so mellow, but busy. Lots of pollen pants on the girls as they flew into the hives. They are making honey in brooder frames so excluders and honey supers will soon be added. All the hives were active, we found 3 of the queens and evidence that all 4 have active queens. Every hive has a Queen cup or two that require watching. The hives look healthy, a few hive beetles that we smushed, no mites (knock on wood). She again gave me so many suggestions to make life easier for the bees and for maintenance. The bottom slide out boards need a rim to pull them from the slots as they will get stuck in otherwise so that will be done before they are installed late fall. She suggested a small vent slot in back end of the spacer to aid with ventilation. When the supers are added and the spacers are removed to place them, those slots will be cut. It would be nice if I had a battery powered jig saw, but mine has to be plugged in. Also she discussed a syrup feeder style that slips into the brood box like a frame that holds a gallon of syrup so it doesn’t have to be made quite as often. I don’t know what you do when it isn’t needed, I guess replace it with another frame. I am still using quart jars that sit outside the front of the hive.

Just before she came over, one of their hives swarmed, high up into the trees. While she was here, a second swarmed and her husband said it settled on their electric box so he set up to capture and move them as soon as she arrived home.

Before she arrived, one of the overstuffed 2 gallon bags of frozen tomatoes from last year was dumped in a sink of warm water, the skins slipped off and dropped in a big pot to simmer with herbs and seasonings while we worked. Two and a half hours later, there was a nice pot of pasta sauce awaiting. We had spaghetti and salad, a pint was frozen and 4 more pints were canned after dinner and put on the shelf to begin resupplying our canned goods. I have plenty of lids this year and need to begin to gather jars as the honey is going to need jars as well, and my supply is just about what I use to can sauces, salsas, and jams in each year.

The hens are producing about 8 or 9 eggs a day. One of the Marans thinks she is an ostrich and lays super jumbos that don’t fit in a carton and one of the Easter eggers often produces “oopsies” a tiny egg that is only an egg white.

And it is definitely asparagus season, cutting many spears each day to enjoy and share.

This week has brought news of the loss of two of our acquaintances, one was a neighbor who has been in very poor health for a number of years. He was my age. The other from my childhood. He was a son of the director at Shrine Mont when I was a child visiting there in the summer, about 11 years my senior, he was a teen and young adult then, later he became the director that replacing his Dad, and the father of the current director. I was told that he also had been in poor health for a while.

And the news this week included the deaths of two young college athletes, both good students, who took their own lives. Suicide is a topic that demands more discussion. As a retired school counselor, experiencing the suicide of a few students over the years, it is difficult to discuss, but it must to save the lives of people in distress.

3 thoughts on “Bees, so many, many bees”

  1. I’ve never used those frame feeders (yes you simply replace with a frame when you remove them), but the biggest complaint people have is that bees will drown in them. You must remove them when they stop using them – if you don’t, the bees will simply start attaching comb to them and you’ll have a mess getting them out. I’ve always preferred the quart jars simply because I can see how much they are consuming without having to go in the hive. Ultimately, when you go in the hive you are technically doing a ‘home invasion’ so unless there’s a need, I try to let them be bees. Once the syrup consumption slows, they’re getting nectar and you would remove the feeders. They must be off before you add honey supers – or they will simply be capping sugar syrup, not nectar. Also you cannot treat for anything (mites etc) once the supers are on. I have always added a one inch shim on the top super with an entrance cut into it – saves the bees the hassle of walking from the bottom of the hive all the way to the super to offload their nectar. Queen excluders – you might try using them in two hives, and leaving them out in the other two – see what the difference is. My bees were very slow to decide to go through them, preferring to keep packing nectar into the brood boxes, leaving the queen less space to lay eggs. I stopped using them. But others have good success. I was told years ago – there’s really no hard and fast ‘right way’ to do things, rather there’s doing what works for you in your area. It sounds like you have an excellent mentor 🙂

    1. I am using quart outside the hive feeders but they are not eating much from them now and since we are experiencing spring with above 50 f nights for the most part and lots of activity, Autumn Olive is blooming and they love it, they aren’t drinking much of the syrup so I will probably remove them this week. My local mentor failed to mention not putting the supers on without removing the syrup, but I had read it and certainly don’t want frames of capped sugar syrup. Son bought excluders and mentor suggested using them, but I am inclined to set up at least one without and compare. Later in the week when it is a nice warm and sunny day, I will make the switch from syrup feeding to adding supers. So very much to learn.

      1. Absolutely, beekeeping is a steep learning curve 🙂 and it’s said you never stop learning. Sounds as if you’re fine to remove the feeders. Don’t place any supers on until there are at least 7 or 8 full capped frames in each box (full meaning the area around the brood as well as full frames of capped honey on either side of the brood nest area. You want the bees to ‘have to’ store honey in your supers. They simply won’t move into the supers until they’ve no choice. If you catch them making comb and capping honey say on top of the frames, you’ve waited a bit too long. No worry, just slap a super on. Some bees are remarkably stubborn about moving up into the supers, be patient. I did have a hive one year that would not move up at all – I swapped out the super for a deep box and moved a frame of brood up. Bees will not abandon brood – so I gave them no choice but to move up. Come extraction time, I simply moved that frame back down. The queen is not inclined to travel across capped honey to get up there and start laying so it’s really not a worry. As this is your first year, you will not get the honey your mentor does – your colonies need to grow and establish themselves. But you will get some for sure. Hope I’m not being too long winded.

I would love to hear your comments on this post.

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