Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sing: Sugar Sugar... Baggies

Sugar Baggies. When they work, they're amazing. But when they don't they're a pain in the butt.

Here's some tips and tricks (not all my own invention) that I've learned along the way.

* Use only the blue freezer baggies. The plastic is thicker and more durable. The clear baggies can get rips and holes while handling or carting out to the yard.

* Use the extra wide seal bags for a more secure closure.

* Avoid sealing and resealing the baggies. I found that syrup works it's way into the seal and stops it from being tight and then these bags would leak later, usually in the corners.

* After filling, close 3/4 across and them push the air out and pinch the last 1/4 closed. Lay flat and repress the entire seal--be sure! (Once I picked up a sealed baggie. I was going to put it right on the frames but I set it down, laying it flat--the entire thing came unsealed and all the syrup ran out. Now I always lay them flat for a minute before putting on the hive.

* A large 3.79 litre and two medium 946 ml baggie will fit on a 10 frame hive leaving a little room for some patties. This means not having to go back to the yard quite so soon.

* Our Ontario Tech Team reports that an XL 4L baggie works well. I haven't found those at the grocery store yet.

* Go easy on the slits, two or three slits that are 3" to 4" long. The longer the slits the more the chance of a drip or stream of syrup on the edges of the baggie where it curves down.

* Don't overfill otherwise they'll just leak once slit. The bags curve and aren't completely flat when filled.

* Is the baggie empty but covered in bees? Instead of shaking the baggie over the hive to dislodge them, hold the baggie up and tap your hive tool hard on the plastic seal. This knocks the bees off very nicely.

* Is the baggie almost empty? If you pick up one or the other ends, it'll spill in the hive. Believe it or not you can pick up a baggie, even a full one, by sliding your hive tool through the slits in the baggie. Lift it straight up and away from the hive.

* One beekeeping friend is economical and he refills his. He holds the baggie by the tool (as described above--and pours fresh syrup into it and places it in the hive. He's pretty brave. I confess I did this once and it did work.

* Always have extra unused baggies on hand at bee yard. When one bag suddenly leaked or another got a hole I was able to quickly pour the syrup into another baggie.

* Place the sealed edge of the baggie towards the outside edges of the hive. Just a precaution in case it leaks.

* Make sure your rim spacer(s) are tall enough to leave a bee space on top of the baggie once the inner cover is in place. Test them at home before you leave. Once at the yard after placing the baggie and spacer on the hive I discovered there wasn't enough room. I had to remove the baggie and pour some out.

* Are there bees on the frames in the way and you want to set the baggie down? You can smoke them to move. For the remaining bees, instead of crushing them I set the bottom end of the baggie down and then slowly lower the baggie until it just touches the bees and then raise it slightly. This lets the bees know somethings coming and they need to shift out of the way.

* As soon as you remove the old baggie, put the new one in place before the bees walk into that blank space, causing you to have to smoke them out of the way.

* Set the baggie next to the cluster. This year I put the patties over the cluster and put the baggies close to but not completely on top of them. I did this because syrup dripping on bees in early spring can kill them (I started feeding in mid March).

* And finally, don't be an absentminded beekeeper, remember to slit your baggies before you close the hive.
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