Saturday, June 6, 2009

Exhibit A

I arrived around lunch time the day after we put the nucs in the hive. Everything looked fine.

As I approached the hive I could see bees flying around in front of the hive coming and going.

The first hive looked really active. To me it seemed a little more active than I thought it should be. Now, not being very experienced about what normal is I can't say if I'm right but it seemed to be a little bit too active.

The second hive was quieter with less bees but it looked happy with bees coming and going. I watched for a while and could see they were coming back with white and yellow pollen.

Then I checked the back of the first hive and I found what will be called hereafter Exhibit A:

A muddy raccoon pawprint on the back of the hive.

I also found the boards of the skid that the hive was sitting on to be wet. I could only surmise that the wetness was sugar syrup.

I think that a raccoon was disturbing the hive and somehow must have rocked it enough to spill sugar syrup.

The hive parts were still intact and it didn't look disturbed. The bees were active but not aggressive - no bumping or even showing interest in me being there.

I had the smoker lit just in case but I didn't need it. In fact I used the smoker for myself because the mosquitoes are a real pest in the woods. They are hungry and they don't give up. I have to wear the bee veil the whole time, not because of the bees but because of the mosquitoes.

Everyone asks and talks about stings but the really stings were from the mosquitoes. I've got tons of little bites on my hands and knees and they're really itchy.

I was pleased to see that the bees had figured out the entrance. Bees were no longer wandering around the front and going into the space under the hive trying to find the entrance.

I had planned to block off that little space under the hive this morning but realized it wasn't necessary.

As the sun shone on the hive more and more bees came out. They would fly back and forth and up and down in front of the hive, orienting themselves.

Then I heard a really loud buzzing, loud like a bumble bee. I looked and it was a drone. He too was orienting himself in front of the hive. A little later I saw drones orienting themselves in front of the other hive as well.

As the afternoon progressed the hives about equalled in their activity but I did notice in late afternoon when the sun hit on hive for a bit, bees were coming out and orienting themselves quite a bit. As the sun moved on the activity slowed down.

Then I noticed that the boards that had the sugar syrup from hours before had fresh syrup. No one had jostled anything. I could only presume that the hive feeder must be leaking. That means it could very well be dripping syrup down on the bees.

I wish I'd used the baggie. I didn't have a cup to scoop out the syrup and I didn't want to remove the hive feeder, disturbing the bees, so that I could put on a rim spacer with a baggie.

So I did two things. I dried up the wetness with paper towels so that I could watch to see if the area re-wetted itself--it didn't. I also opted that sometimes it's more wisdom to do nothing than something. In other words, more harm can be done by action than inaction.

This is a hard concept for I'm learning because I am a woman of action. But I can be taught!

So, tomorrow morning I'll go back out with sugar baggies ready to go. My plan is to place the sugar baggies inside the hive feeder instead of pouring the syrup directly into the feeder. Sugar baggies are simply Ziplock bags. The bag is filled with the syrup and sealed. Then the bag is laid flat and a 5" slit is made on the flat top. The liquid doesn't run out becuase the bees aren't heavy enough to create pressume. They stand on the bag next to the slit and sip the syrup without drowning.

By doing it that way I won't have to remove the hive feeder from the hive, disturbing the bees. The rule being that after setting up the hive you leave it alone for 1 week. I can easily lift off the metal cap of the hive feeder so bees can access the baggies.

They might build burr comb in the hive feeder but I'll have to wait and see on that one.

There's a Varroa Mite trap under the hive and I also set that up by coating a file folder with Vaseline and sliding it under the trap.
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