Monday, March 12, 2012

What a Difference a Day Can Make

Yesterday it was cold and no bees were flying.  Today was very different.

The sky was mostly cloudless and the sun was quite warm, almost hot. People were out in their gardens and teens were walking around in t-shirts—well they do that in winter too but this time it at least made sense.

I just had to go back to the bee yard. I wanted to see if all my hives had made it through the winter. A fellow beekeeper told me he had already opened his hives. I could have done that too during a few warm days we’d had here and there but there’s no need to rush I think.

I could see the bees in the air as soon as I arrived. That’s always a good sign.

Many bees were flying—doing orientation flights in front of their hives. Every hive was busy, except one.

If I had to guess which hive might have trouble getting through to winter it’d be that one. There were some bees out front but only a few.

I saw several bees on the ground in front, unable to fly. On inspection I noticed they had gloop on their wings, making them too heavy too fly properly. I picked up these bees and using water and a Kleenex I cleaned the gunk off their wings. Would you believe if you do this gently enough they’ll actually lift up their wings. Then they start to clean themselves. It’s as if they know you’re cleaning them.

Once their wings were clean I set them down in the sunshine. They did their cleaning ritual and later I saw them lift their wings to the sun to finish drying them off. In time they flew home. I’m pretty sure the gunk is Nosema. I didn’t leave any pollen patties in the hive so I don’t think it was that.

[photo - this gal after her Kleenex and water bath].

At least this hive is alive. And if I remember last year, this hive may be much more active inside than outside. It wouldn’t surprise me to find on inspection that they’re doing fine. Time will certainly tell either way.

I hear temperatures on going to be up this week. My thoughts turn now to when to start feeding and medicating, especially for Nosema, and those darn Varroa Mites.
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