Posts Tagged ‘feeding bees’

Relocated hives

Relocated bee hives

Went out to Jannine’s farm yesterday to check on the three hives that I had to quicky move after a bear got into the yard and tore one of them up. As I feared, the queen did not survive the attack, and without her, the colony is doomed.  It is too late in the year to find a replacement so I transferred the remaining combs and bees to the two other hives.    Bees are very territorial, and vigorously defend their own hive from other bees, so it’s not a good idea to just move bees from one hive to another.   To get around this, I placed a sheet of newspaper at the last bar of the strong hive, folding it around the edges to keep the bees to one side. Then I poked a number of holes in the paper so that the bees could pick up the odor of the bees on the other side.   Then I took half of the combs from the damaged hive and placed them next to the newspaper. Combining hives  Once the hive is closed up, the original bees on one side…the orphan bees on the other side…they will begin to chew through the newspaper.  By the time they open up the holes and pass through, they will have become accustomed to the scent and won’t attack each other.  That’s what is supposed to happen.  I’ll give them a couple days and then go back to see if they have assimilated or if there is total civil war going on!   Before closing up the hive, I placed a baggie of sugar water into the bottom of the hive, picking a number of pinholes into the upper side of the bag.  The sugar water will very slowly ooze out as the bees drink it up. This will give them a safe and close supply of sugar.   Jannine with sugar

Meanwhile….. a juvenile black bear was found up a tree just at the end of our block. Could this have been the culprit?  Hard to say, as there have been 10 different bears sighted in the city this past couple of weeks.  Animal control was called and they were able to tranquilize it and move him back up to the nearby hills.  Bears  found wandering the city are tagged. There is a “three strike” policy in such cases.  After the third capture in the city, the bears are relocated far away in the Jemez mountains to the west of Santa Fe.  This was this bear’s first strike…I hope he settles down for a long winters nap soon! Black bear in tree

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Pouring a 1:1 sugar solution into the hive feeder

It’s been a very strange summer here in Santa Fe.  It’s been very dry and even though the seasonal rains have begun, they can be spotty at best. As a result, there is a below average amount of nectar and pollen for the bees.  Add to that the fact that I started out with only 4 bars of comb.  I am concerned that the hive may not be strong enough to make it through the winter if the bees haven’t capped off enough honey. I have been feeding them sugar water all summer and this week I decided to give them a protein supplement, in the form of “protein patties” that I ordered from Dadant & Sons.

Protein patty

I simply  laid it on the bottom of the hive. Checking the hive today I saw that the queen was still laying with lots of capped brood. They have built two new combs and are filling them with honey. One of the combs is almost completely full.  The other is only partially built but is also full of capped honey.

Partial comb with top part filed with capped honey

It seems like they are slowing down and perhaps adding a protein supplement will help them stay strong through the rest of the summer . Hopefully we will get more rain and have a good fall blooming season. I ordered the protein substitute from Dadant and although they won’t release the ingredients, I have been told that it is a very clean and safe product.  I’ll check the hive next week to see how they liked it.

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Busy Bees

It’s been 10 days since I got my first nuc ( colony); 4 bars of comb, a thousand bees and a queen. It was a difficult move for them; for some reason they didn’t find the sugar water I had put in the hive for them to eat,  they ate up all their stored honey, and kicked out the drones. ( no need for them now).  I checked the hive and saw that they were stressed. More food was needed. So about a week ago I began to feed them outside the hive using a self-watering container filled with stones.  I put the feeding container away from the hive behind some chamisa shrubs. They ate…. a lot!  !  I mix 3 cups of cane sugar to a gallon of water and they can empty it in about 3-4 hours!  I do this twice a day.  I’m glad I realized how hungry they were and started feeding them…. this was a real bee-saver!  I opened the hive this morning and they have settled in well, the queen is laying, and the worker bees  just finished drawing comb on the fourth bar.  All seems well and I won’t bother them for a while.  They are indeed, busy as bees!

Comb full of bees

Inspecting comb

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Got a call yesterday from Steve Wall, a local beekeeper, teacher and mentor that the nuc that I had ordered was ready.  I put the hive in the back seat of the car and drove to his place where he transferred the combs from one of his small keeper hives into my large topbar hive.  As he did this we checked to see how the queen was doing and if she was laying well. The colony was amazingly calm and he reassured me that they were very docile.   All was good and we lifted the hive into the car and I drove home.  After setting up the hive in the yard, I sat as the sun began to set and waited to see what would happen.  After about 15 minutes about a half a dozen bees emerged and inspected every part of the hive from the outside.  They were checking out their new digs, for sure!  I waited until I saw them return for the night.  It was certainly easier than I had expected.

The next morning, after it had warmed up a bit, I went out to see how “the girls” were doing.  They were flying in out of the hive as if they had always been there.  Taking my smoker, I gave the opening a few puffs of smoke, removed the top and another couple puffs along the bars.  I then lowered a bucket of sugar water filled with sticks into the hive behind the last comb. It’s a simple sugar solution made with 1 cup of cane sugar and 1 cup of water. It’s been very dry and so this will help them in their transition to their new home.  The sticks help them get in and out of the bucket without drowning ( they are lousy swimmers)  The bees paid no attention to me and this too, was reassuring.  I replaced the top and that was that!  I’ll check on them in 3 or 4 days to see how they are doing and then once a week after that. So finally, after preparing for this for over a year,  I’m now in bees-ness!

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