Saturday, June 27, 2009

Adding the Honey Super Week 4

Saturday it was time for a hive inspection. It would be my second inspection since setting up 2 hives 4 weeks ago.

I'm finding that I don't need much smoke. The bees are for the most part ignoring me. They're just too busy to be bothered with me.
Nevertheless, I always light the smoker and have it there just in case. I've done enough reading where beekeepers advise they didn't light their smoker and then found the bees were upset or they needed to be more invasive and they didn't have it ready to go.
Besides, there is someone that needs the smoke--Me! Why? Because I'm getting stung like crazy out there in the swamp. But it's not bee stings that's the problem. It's mosquitoes.
During the inspections, I am holding frames full of bees and they are ignoring me. Then I'll feel a stinging sensation on my fingers and look down, and there is a mosquito dining on my blood. They seem to really like my fingers. Mind you the rest of me is covered. I where a veil and an extra large long sleeved men's shirt with an apron (the pockets come in handy).
The other problem is that the mosquitoes can sting right through my shirt.
Mom said that when she was young and they went raspberry picking back at the bush they would put newspaper up their sleeves to stop the mosquitoes from stinging them. Maybe I'll try it. I certainly don't want to use any kind of repellent or spray. ANY SUGGESTIONS from beekeepers out there?? What works for you? I smoke myself with the smoker as much as I can to try to cover my scent.
The inspection went very well. My new frames and foundation are fully drawn and 7 of the ten frames were bursting with brood - capped and uncapped larvae. It was a really exciting and proud moment to see the frames I put together so lovingly covered in comb and brood.
I left the 10th frame in place and removed frame 9. Frame 9 was drawn comb with nectar in the cells only. On frame 8, there was the queen and many bees. The comb was drawn and only nectar in the cells - no brood or eggs.
Frame #7 was very heavy. Even before I pulled it out I knew it was loaded. The top part of the frame was covered in capped honey and the center had a really nice pattern of capped and uncapped brood.
I've read that the rule of thumb for when to add the honey super is when 7 of the 10 frames are fulled with brood and eggs. So I added a Queen Excluder--the metal frame that sits on top of the brood box which prevents the queen from going into the honey box and laying eggs--and then I put my pink honey box (called a honey super) on top.
Additional Comment: Since this post a beekeeper with many years experience advised to not put on the queen excluder initially. The bees don't like to go through it and could swarm instead. So his advice is to at first leave it out until they get filling it up with honey. The queen might go up there and lay a few eggs but she'll stop once they take it over with honey. Then put the excluder in (making sure the queen is below). The bees will be willing to go through the screen then to get back to their honey.
(Click the photos at left to enlarge for a better view of the details. Note the rainbow like pattern that the queen lays in. Oldest brood larvae would be in the middle and the youngest as you work out centrally. The white caps across the top are honey. The bees keep honey and pollen stored on the frames along with their babies. That way the nurse bees don't have to travel very far to get some food to feed the babies).
Then I had a little debate with myself about the feeder. I know that the feeder should not be on the hive when the honey box is on the hive BUT the honey box didn't have drawn honey combs ready to be filled by the bees. Instead, it had plastic wax coated foundation waiting for the bees to create the comb.
So I've left the sugar feeder on for a bit. If the bees need the syrup to help them make comb, then it's available to them. If they don't need it, then they can ignore it. Once the frames are drawn with comb, I will remove the honey super. What's your experience? Have I goofed up here? Let me know what you think.

I did not plan to inspect Hive#1 because they had been disrupted a few too many times, but because Hive #2 was at the 7 in 10 ratio I thought I'd better check Hive #1's progress. My reasoning was that if they were also at 7 in 10 frames drawn and full, they would need more room. We were also scheduled for about 4 days of solid rain and I thought this could cause swarming behaviour if they needed more room and had no place to go.
These bees are doing very well and the inspection showed that the interruptions due to the whole leaky hive feeder had slowed them down. I'd say they are delayed by a week.
I left frame 10 in place and removed frame 9. Both frame 9, 8 and 7 were drawn with comb and had nectar in many of the cells. Frame number 6 was the jackpot with a heavy frame. As with the other hive, it had capped honey along the top and capped and uncapped brood in the centre.
I did not see the queen and did not pursue to find her. At least with seeing tiny brood I know she was alive 3 days ago.
I did not put on the honey super yet. I decided to give them one more week to finish filling up frame 7. I don't want the bees to travel up and start drawing comb in a honey super if they haven't first finished filling up the bottom box.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Oxford Honey & Supplies - Burgessville, Ontario

Today the Middlesex Oxford and Elgin Beekeeper's Association had their monthly meeting.

Instead of meeting in a boardroom we joined up with the Norfolk Haldimand Beekeepers' Association and had the best kind of meeting of all--at a bee yard.

We met in Burgessville, Ontario at Oxford Honey & Supplies where we viewed John and his family's commercial bee operation.
The weather had been really rainy but late Friday afternoon the sun came out and it began to look like a promising day.

But Saturday it had clouded over again with no spots of sun to show.

We left in the rain, carrying raincoats and umbrellas. we were prepared to enjoy ourselves anyway and hoped that we'd still get to observe bees in action and open up some hives.

John has created a wonderful public observatory on the property next to a bee yard.
The whole structure is screened in so the public can feel very safe and kept separate from the bees by the screening yet still able to get very close to them.

The bee yard is on one side of the observatory and John does demonstrations there every Saturday morning at 11:00 a.m.

He opens hives and shows off frames of bees, pointing out the queen if possible and holding the frames close to the screening so people can have a really good look.

He spoke to the audience about bees--information on bee biology, life in the hive, extracting honey, creating queens, how to super hives, etc. He was also very patient to answer questions.
This day though his audience was mostly beekeepers so the questions were often more in-depth and touched on things like treating hives for Varroa Mites, and American Foul Brood (AFB).
We even had a bee inspector at our meeting to show us how he conducts an inspection and what he looks for - The inspector advised he focuses his inspection on looking for signs of AFB.

It was interesting to see that John uses one regular sized deep and then a medium sized deep for his brood boxes, so 1 1/2 boxes instead of 2. The Guelph course recommends just one regular deep now, stating it is enough honey for the bees to overwinter and it makes monitoring and checking the hive much easier.

In our group, some stayed inside the screened in area that had been covered to keep out the rain and some stood along with the hives so they could observe the action. I wanted to be closer to the bees and the action.

John demonstrated how to take a cappings scratcher to remove drone brood to check for Varroa Mites.
The drone cappings stick up from the comb like high muffin tops or rounded bullet ends--they're much higher than the caps on worker cells.
Drone comb as well is usually situated around the outside edges of the frame so its easier to stick the scratcher into the remove cells.

Unfortunately the drones die with this action, but it is the best way to see how much Varroa Mite development is going on in the cells and also a way to eliminate the mites.

Note in the photo there is one Varroa on a drone - look for the small round brown spot against the white of the larva. Seeing one mite is not unusual at all.
We looked at queen cells one one frame created by the bees. They had an imported Australian queen but for some reason they had created a supercedure cell.
Click on the photo at left to enlarge and look half way down the frame on the right - you'll see the peanut shaped supersedure cell.
Supersedure cells are always in the middle of the frame, swarm cells are built along the bottom of the frame.

I wondered if they didn't like the Aussie accent ;) so decided to replace her?

Pictured is the uncapped end of a queen cell where the queen has hatched.

The second photo is the other end of the same cell showing the plastic caps used to start queen cells in hives when running a queen rearing operation.
Another hive had a queen cell with a newly released queen that they had made themselves.
In the store there was all kinds of beekeeping equipment, everything from suits, to jars and containers to heated uncapping knives.

I managed to grab a deep with frames and foundation so that I'd have an extra box....

just in case there's a swarm around just looking for a new home ...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Different Types of Hive Feeders

I have now tried 3 different types of hive feeders - all top feeders.

(Pictured is a hive top Styrofoam feeder with a plastic cap/window on the left. Bees access the syrup from under the plastic hood. Syrup is poured into the area on the right. They won't drown with this system).

Initially I had a wooden and metal feeder that sat on top of the brood box. This feeder had holes drilled in its metal bottom that the bees would climb through from below.
Note the burr comb the bees built on the bottom, but other than that they didn't make too much of a mess.

These holes entered into a wooden well area where the bees would climb up and over to reach the feed.

A square metal cap would cover this wooden well which would keep the bees from being able to fly freely inside the feeder - making it easy and smoke free to refill without disturbing the hive.
This feeder had zero deaths from drowning so I do recommend this type of design for a feeder.

I have two of this type of feeder and unfortunately the seals between the wood and the metal failed on one of them and it created a slow leak which was a problem.
I will resilicon it so I should be able to put it back in service in the fall.

Because of the leak I removed the feeder and instead went with a rim spacer and baggie on top of the top bars as a feeder.
This worked well in that it was really close to the bees and they could access it easily.
BUT the bees found the space too irresistible and couldn't help themselves building comb in this area.
I think the bees find it too tempting when there's a frame of comb right there and a little space above and they rush to fill it - they created quite a bit of comb and wild combs in 2 1/2 days!

My conclusion from advice, reading and emails from beekeepers is that the rim feeder is really best for cold conditions because the heat of the hive will keep the syrup warm which will ensure the bees eat it. This method has room for only one baggie so if medicating the bees and you want to ensure they take all their medicine this is a good control. But for feeding in general, they were emptying this baggie in 2 days so it was very labour intensive. And then I had to scrape and clean up the extra comb they built too. The biggest drawback too is having to open the hive and smoke to move the bees so you can remove and replace the baggie.

I ended up buying a new hive top feeder, this one made of heavy Styrofoam and I really like it--it's completely leak proof. It has a slit the width of the foam on the bottom and the same type of well where the bees climb up the inside wall of the well and down to access the syrup at the bottom.
The area is narrow so they can't drown themselves. It has a cover too to prevent the bees from flying freely in the feeder and drowning.
What I really like is that the plastic is see through so you can actually see the bees accessing the syrup whereas with the wooden one the metal cap is solid and I couldn't see the bees accessing the syrup.

It's interesting to note that a temporary solution I made was to remove the metal cover from the wood/metal feeder and put two baggies in, one on each side of the well. This enabled me to leave them double the amount of feed - which they ate in just over 3 days.

(In this photo the bags had just been removed). The bees had free access to climb into the feeder but they did not build any burr or comb in this large space at all. I think it's because it was divided away from the frames in the brood frame that it wasn't so tempting. After 8 days they had not built any comb but I would think that if the feeder was left that way longer that they might have.

Top bars of Hive#1 covered in bees and a little leftover comb after I had scraped it down. I did this change of feeders on Sunday, taking off that leaky ______(enter explicit word) feeder and replaced it with the new Styrofoam one. I did all this without smoke.
The bees were so busy they ignored us. I didn't want to disturb them any more. Now I can leave them alone for a couple weeks before I have to do another inspection. I can just top up the feeder without disturbing them.

What was really neat to see was that when I lifted the outer cover on Hive#2, they had eaten all their syrup and I could see tons of bee tongues sticking out under the edge of the metal cap.
They were trying to reach the last of the wetness where the dregs of the syrup were with their long tongues.
Another big thrill was when I got out of the truck parked at the lane and saw my honey bees working the wild roses out at the road.
I really hope hive #1 gets a good break over the next week of sunny weather. I've disrupted them way more than I had planned in their first two weeks. Faulty equipment can certainly be a real pain and cause unplanned issues.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Rim Spacer with a Syrup Baggie vs the Hive Feeder

If not for one leaky hive feeder this experience would have been a perfect experience, but then what these days is perfect?

(This baggie is now empty and ready to be replaced - but see how the bees have been naughty? Maybe not truly naughty, more like they've been bee-having naturally by building comb in the space the rim feeder creates).

I discovered on day 2 after the nuc installation that Hive#1 had sugar syrup on the boards around the hive. There was also a raccoon print on the hive so I was left wondering if the hive was somehow rocked enough by a raccoon to spill or if the hive feeder was leaking.

I left it for a day or so and then checked it again. Unfortunately the boards showed fresh syrup so it looked like the issue was a leaky feeder.

The weather wasn't cold being June but I didn't want my bees to be constantly dripped on. I solved the issue temporarily by placing paper towel in the feeder to soak up the little syrup that remained and then I placed a baggie inside instead of pouring the syrup in.


It was the first week and I really wanted to avoid opening the hive to put on a rim feeder. I did worry about them building burr or wild comb in the feeder since they now had access to this space, and the queen could even come up into the feeder, but I decided to risk it.

Then when I did my one week inspection I returned to find that they had not built wild comb in the feeder. That was a relief. I decided that it would be best to use the rim feeder instead so they didn't have so much free space. I didn't want them to get the idea in their heads to build burr comb. So I installed the rim spacer with a baggie and closed up the hive.

I discovered 2 days later that they had built wild comb in the space provided by the rim feeder. That bit of space was just too tempting for them. The baggie was finished too so they were certainly taking the syrup back really quickly. I replaced the baggie and made plans to come back in 2 days at which time I'd have to decide what to do.

I had taken the hive feeder home and filled it with water. Hours later I lifted it up to find that it was indeed leaking so the raccoon was not to blame. I could silicon it but then it would need drying and curing time so instead I opted to order a new one.

They had been busy building their own wild combs. They were covered in bees. I felt bad to have to scrape it away from the frames and I shook the bees off the little pancake-like ones on the inner cover. These I'll keep to show kids/adults what natural comb looks like when doing presentations.

The comb built up on the tops of the frames had honey in them and I really hated to scrape it away but I had to clean it up and make some space for them because the feeder would be sitting on top.

The new feeder didn't arrive yesterday in time to use so instead I removed the rim spacer and used the leaky feeder with 2 baggies inside, one on each side of the central entrance. They were eating the syrup faster than I could get back to top it up which was the main reason why I thought to remove the rim spacer--I could only fit one baggie on the hive (the amount of syrup that can go in the bag is limited by the depth of the rim spacer.

I figured too that if they were determined to build burr comb, it'd be easier to scrape and clean off a feeder I could remove than to have to scrape the frames with my hive tool.

I expected to get stung that day. I thought the bees would be frustrated or angry at me doing all this scraping away of their comb. I was picking up wild comb absolutely covered in bees and then shaking them off. Not a single sting the whole time.

I didn't need much smoke and I really wanted to limit it but I did have to smoke more heavily to get the pile of bees off the top bars of the frames or they'd get crushed when I put the feeder on. They were busy trying to lap up the honey leaking from the comb I had scraped and were really reluctant to move.
I really wish I had a photographer with me. It's really hard to stop to get photos when you're holding onto things carefully, trying to focus on the bees, and my fingers were sticky. Speaking of sticky, you should see the camera!

video
My conclusion at this point is that a rim feeder is only really good for feeding medicated syrup using a baggie to ensure that the bees eat all the syrup/medication. They will build burr comb in a rim spacer because they like the extra space and prefer to build their own comb instead of using foundation. Also the baggie runs out very fast - sooner than 2 days in my case so the maintenance on it is very high. Also, the biggest downside is that you have to open the hive and smoke to change the baggie. An upside though is that the baggie isn't around long enough to get mould.

Wild roses are in bloom in the swamp at the moment and I'm sure the bees have been collecting nectar and pollen from them.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

First Hive Inspection (1 Week)

The one week inspection was due on Saturday but the sky was very overcast. When I looked in my backyard there was no insect activity and I knew it wouldn't be more active out at the bee yard.

Even the squirrels weren't out. So we put off the inspection until Sunday which was forecast to be sunny and 22 degrees.

(See the queen on the left? Look for the yellow dot).
Sure enough, the forecast was accurate (thanks The Weather Network!) and we had a perfect bee day. Dad and I headed out to the bee yard and were there around 3:30.
I had gone over in my head step by step what the process would be when opening and inspecting the hive. I found the slow meditative process calming and also a good preparation for the real thing.
I imagined each step first, visualizing it, problem solving anything I thought would come up. By Sunday, I was ready.
(Photo - notice the white and brown coloured comb? I wonder if they robbed some extra wax from the nuc frame to make this new comb. Isn't all new comb white?)

We veiled up and Dad wearing gloves, was my smoker person. Later he took off his gloves and held frames for photos. Now we both can brag we've held thousands of bees with no stings.

First I took off the outer cover and laid it down upside down. Underneath was the hive feeder which was closed off so no bees could fly up. The feeder was empty with a slight residue of syrup left so I berated myself for not coming in the night before and checking it. The last time I'd filled it was on Wed night so I made a note to self that the feeder should be checked at least every 3 days (mind you I did not top it up to the brim because I didn't want the syrup to mold).

I lifted the hive feeder up a little and Dad puffed in some white smoke. Then I released the feeder and did a slow count to 30.

Next I removed the hiver feeder and laid it down cross-ways on the outer cover. Then I had Dad give a little smoke to the top of the hive where the bees were gathering.

Many of the bees were gathered on the top bars but they weren't really coming up to look at us. They just looked really busy going about their tasks. The smoke increased the buzz of the hive and the bees went down inside the hive.

I first removed one of the brand new frames with foundation from the outside edge of the hive. The bees had not worked this frame so I removed it and the one next to it, also untouched, to create space so I could shift the frames to pull them out easier.

My nuc supplied 4 full frames of bees and I had inserted 6 frames with foundation (no comb built up) when I installed my 2 nuc hives one week ago.

On observing Hive #2 four of the six foundation frames were untouched, although there were a couple of bees on these frames. The 5th frame to the centre I slid over and pulled carefully straight out. That frame had a lovely white wax being built all over both sides, with the centermost part of the frame built the most (worked on first) and the bees were working out from there. It wasn't complete yet so no queen or eggs or food could be stored on it. But they had been busy.

We both held up this frame for photos and then I returned it to the hive.

The next frame was next to the 4th frame from the nuc. It was a little stuck down so I used my hive tool to loosen it a bit and cut away a tiny bit of burr comb. I note that the bees like to glue the frames down. That makes sense because I'm sure that shifting frames could be a little scary/squishy for a fragile bee.


(New beekeeper Lorne holding his first frame of bees - no gloves!).


As soon as I started to lift the frame I could tell the bees had been very busy. It was heavy. It was also loaded with bees on both sides. I held the frame and Dad took photos while I looked over the bees. I didn't see any eggs or larvae on this frame, but I did see nectar in many of the cells. It also wasn't totally filled in yet with honey comb, but nearly complete. A few cells were partially filled with yellow pollen.

Then I saw a yellow spot moving slowly on the frame and at first I thought it was pollen on the leg of a bee but then I noticed it was on the back of the bee.... It took me a few seconds for the 'ole gears to kick in and remind me--that's my queen with her painted back! The yellow spot would mark her as a 2007 queen.

So, I knew I had a working queen on Hive #2. A very good sign indeed and exactly what we were hoping to see.

I remember a friend and fellow beekeeper Henry Heimstra who started Clovermead Apiaries many years ago giving me some sound advice. He said, "Don't love the bees too much." He explained that sometimes people are so enthusiastic about their bees that they open the hive far too often to take a look. The end result is often that they cause more unintended harm than good.



(This hive feeder is great - not one drowned bee. The bees come up through holes into a chamber under the metal square in the centre.)

At that point I opted to close up the hive and not to continue pulling frames looking for eggs or larvae. I had confirmed a live queen and my thinking was that my continued intrusion would just slow them down more and could put my queen at risk from being squished or damaged as I shifted frames (in class we were taught to capture the queen and put her in a queen cage during a hive inspection to keep her safe but I didn't want to try grabbing/handling her yet in such an early stage in my beekeeping just in case I hurt her).
I wanted the bees to focus on their production of comb, not me or the smoke. So we closed the hive up, replacing the hive feeder, topping it up with more 2:1 water sugar syrup and left them alone so they could get back to work in peace.

We repeated the process for Hive #1. This was the hive that had the mysterious syrup leak from the hive feeder--either that or a raccoon was able to somehow rock the hive enough that it slopped over. I removed the feeder so I could take it home to check it out. In its place I put a syrup ziplock baggie right on the top of the frames and slit it open with a razor blade. I did this just before closing up the hive at the end of the inspection.

This hive too had just about finished their sugar syrup so I plan to load them up with lots next time to be certain they don't run out.

As for the inspection, it was identical to the first inspection. Four of the six foundation frames with no comb had not been touched yet. The 5th frame was underway with white comb but not complete. The 6th frame was nice and heavy with built up comb. The only difference on this frame from the other hive was that they actually had capped honey along the top row on the right side (not sure if I got a photo of that).

Would you believe that the queen was also in the identical spot as the queen on the other hive? Well she was... meandering along the bottom left hand corner of the frame. So I'm having a hard time distinguishing from my photos which hive is which.

Again, as soon as I found the queen I opted to close the hive and let them get back to work and away from the distraction of the smoke.

The activity level of the hives on the outside before and after was equal between the two hives. I can see why they suggest having 2 hives so that you can make comparisons between them.

I did notice on Hive #1 that their comb was more brown and not white. I wonder if they used up some of their excess comb from the nuc frames to make this comb? Otherwise, why is it brown if it's brand new comb? Experienced beekeepers, please feel free to comment!

See the queen? Look for the yellow dot on the left hand side near the bottom of the frame. The other yellow dot to the right is pollen in a cell.

Isn't the queen lovely?

Monday, June 15, 2009

First Honey Bee Presentation the "Bee-Attitudes"

Late last week I got a call from my local bee club asking me if I could possibly do a last minute fill in for a presentation about honey bees to a church group. They had a speaker booked but their speaker had cancelled on them. I did a quick mental check and said YES, I could do the presentation.

The ladies' group at Holy Family Church were holding their monthly meeting, entitled the "Bee-Attitudes". Most of the women had dressed in yellow and black to follow with the bee theme and the room was decorated very nicely with black and yellow ribbons and bee related posters.

The organizer, Patti, asked me ahead for a brief biography that she could introduce me with. I told her that I had been a beekeeper for one week. But I also told her that I had been researching honey bees for a year and a half and that I'd written and illustrated a children's book about them that I was hoping to get published.

The ladies had a pot luck lunch after mass and I was invited to join them for a meal before the talk. These ladies are great cooks and I really enjoyed the home cooking.

I was looking forward to the talk since I'm passionate about bees and I had done so much research on them that I was bursting to share about this amazing insect. I love being in front of an audience--yeah I'm weird that way--and so I decided to take a casual approach to the presentation (no powerpoint - they didn't have a projector). What that meant is that I didn't plan ahead too much what I would talk about, although I had a general idea what I'd like to share.

I wanted to let the audience choose the direction of the talk. The reason for this relates to my teaching experience. People learn and are much more interested if you can somehow involve them in the event. So by letting them show me what they were interested in learning about and getting them to participate as much as possible I could hopefully generate meaningful 'learning moments'.

Let's just say it went off fabulously. I started by asking them to tell me what they knew about honey bees and the audience were eager to participate, calling out common facts about bees. I would then extrapolate on their comments by adding tidbits of information. For instance when someone mentioned that they thought workers were called drones I was able to tell them that the workers are females--that a hive is a social community--a sisterhood. I explained about the very important role of the male drone to ensure the reproduction of the hive and that the genetics of the bees are preserved. I also explained how the drones had to be fed and didn't do anything else... that one always gets the women laughing.

From that, many more questions came up and I ended up spending 45 minutes answering questions from everything from "What is a Killer Bee?" to "Why does the label on my honey say 100% Canadian Honey but in the small print it says it's been blended with Argentina and Brazilian honey?" I LOVED this group! They had such great questions.

The blended honey has been a big issue with beekeepers and the government and they've been lobbying for a long time about the labelling. Just a few months ago it was announced that there would be changes so that Canadian honey would be just that! Imagine having to fight for a label that would be what it said it was!!!

I had brought a couple honey supers, a smoker, veil and hat to show them but the talk was so active that I never even got to doing a demonstration.

It was a really fun time and I hope the ladies enjoyed the talk. At the end I was totally surprised when they presented me with a gift bag with lovely bath items, wall tiles (one pictued above) and a thank you card.

I then thanked them and told them I had to skedaddle. I was heading out to my bee yard that afternoon to check on my hives.... my one week first hive inspection was due.

And on the way home I realized that my camera was still in my pocket. I had forgotten to take a photo!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Honey Bee Orientation

It was great to see the drones coming out and orienting themselves before flying off to try to find a queen to mate with.

They are quite a bit bigger than the worker bees and much louder. In fact, they sound like a bumble bee. I found them easier to spot when flying because they have really long legs that hang down.

I wondered how the drones would locate the local 'drone congregation areas'. Since these bees have been brought in from out of town they don't know the area at all. I'm assuming they will use their sense of smell to locate the spots as well as their keen eyesight.

The bees were coming back today with white, yellow and orange pollen. I hope they've found sources of nectar as well.


I also noticed a bee posted outside the hive late in the afternoon fanning like crazy.


It wasn't that hot today (22 degrees Celcius) so I think it was releasing a home pheramone scent.


If not, then it would have been a lone bee fanning to cool the hive.


Until the hive feeder is removed and I get a chance to test it to see if it leaks, the reason for the sugar syrup leakage is a mystery.


My bottom board is pretty sticky (how on earth will I get that cleaned up?) but the good news is that it doesn't appear that more syrup leaked since yesterday because my Varroa Mite sticky board was dry.


I debated what to do to resolve the issue. If it was leaking I didn't want to add more syrup.


I didn't want to disrupt the hive so instead of removing the feeder, I used paper towel to sop up the little nectar that remained and left it there so the bees could walk on it. Otherwise they'd drown in it.


Then I added a zip lock baggie filled with syrup. I laid the baggie flat and then slit it open with a razor blade. Finally I removed the metal box which blocked the bees from having access to the whole box so that when they came up through the little holes they could access the baggie.



An hour later I peeked in the feeder and it was full of bees. I hope this will resolve the issue for a few days.

Later I'll remove the feeder and exchange it for a rim spacer and just use ziplock bags of syrup.



I realize that the queen could now access the feeder so I'll be watching for her and also to see if the bees distract themselves by trying to build comb in there.



Let's hope they don't and instead occupy themselves down below building combs on the frames I gave them.


I noticed both yesterday and today at around 3:00 that both hives got very active with several hundred bees flying in front orienting themselves. Then by 4:00 things had settled down to a regular flow in and out.

videoThe hives are in partial shade and it was an overcast day today so I don't know if it was the heat of the day or if they have a schedule for nurse bees to come out for a bit of a fly around and orientation.





These are the flowers that are in bloom at the moment in the swamp: