Wednesday, October 9, 2013

In Search of Propolis

It’s that time of year for the bees when the weather is changing.
The little breeze now feels like a cold draft. It chills the brood and take the hard won heat out of the hive. The rains are more frequent and the icy drips of water sluices through every crevice.
If there’s a crack or a hole in the hive, wind and water will find a way in. This sends the bees in a late season scavenger hunt.
They are looking for propolis so they can caulk up the cracks or holes in the hive. They’ll also seal up the inner cover and even sometimes reduce the entrance by creating a curtain of propolis.
Since propolis is gathered mostly in spring the only way to get it at this time of year is to scavenge it from somewhere else.
This is where you can help the bees. Your honey supers which you’ve removed, those boxes will have nice globs of propolis inside them from the summer when the bees glued all those frames in place. You can either scrape some off and lay it out for the bees—trust me they WILL find it—or you can set the empty super out and they can scrape off the propolis themselves.
They will chew it into small pieces that they attach to their back legs to take back to the hive. I have watched them and videoed them doing this on many occasions. The bees worked on the huge lump in the picture until it was gone!
I think that’s why I enjoy setting out a good sized piece for them to harvest. I know they appreciate it.

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