Thursday, April 15, 2010

Spring Bee Chores

I'm back! Actually, I never left but I did get pretty busy for a few weeks.

My next few posting will be catch-up and to make a record of my activities over the last three weeks.

(Photo - bees under the plexi-glass panel of the hive top feeder).
First, how are YOUR bees? Did they survive the winter? Are you feeding and/or doing mite treatments? What treatment plan are you following? I look forward to reading about your hives or interest in the comments.

My bees survived the winter. Yeah!!! My first two hives. Our Canadian winter was very mild which was unusual.

I started feeding a 2:1 sugar/water syrup using a hive top feeder the second week of April. Temperatures had gone up considerably with some days as high as 26 degrees Celsius. That is unseasonably warm. I did leave the winter wraps on the first week of April while the nights were still pretty cool.

Spring took me by surprise so I wasn't ready as quickly as other experienced beekeepers to put in the pollen patties and get the syrup on. I think I'm about a week behind the professional beekeepers.

I ordered pollen patties from Munro Honey. They come rolled flat and cut in a rectangle. The pollen is mixed with honey and maybe some vitamins and is put between wax paper. I laid them right on the top bars of the hive. No rim spacer was required since the patties fit in the small space between the tops of the frames and the inner cover.

(Photo - as soon as the hive winter wraps came off, the bees in Hive #1 set to sending out homing scents for returning bees to follow - note their rears up in the air).
The bees were landing on the patties even before I could get them on the hive. They must smell good. They look like peanut butter, brown and sticky.

Hive #1 with the purchased queen appeared to have more bees than Hive #2 with their own made queen. I must note that I feel I took too much honey from Hive #2 last season, considering the poor weather we had the bees didn't get a chance to build up more honey after I took a super from them. I feel that set them back a bit.
Ontario has gone on record (maybe all of Canada but I can't confirm that) that last year was the worst honey year ever. Beekeepers reported bringing in half the amount of honey as usual. Winter kill reports haven't been done yet but the Ontario Bee Association and Tech Team will be surveying beekeepers to get the stats.

The unofficial report at our last local bee meeting gave percentages of losses from 20 to 50%.

Hive #1 ate their 2 patties in a week while Hive #2 still had one left. I gave them both more. Hive #1 was also taking down the syrup faster. It was obvious that the Hive #1 has more bees than the other.
The bees were bringing in lots of pollen. I think the foraging at this new bee yard will be much better than the damp dark swamp.
Let's hope for a great summer for the bees... and us.
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