Thursday, May 21, 2015

Dead drones

The last two trips to my Heeman's bee yard I noticed about a dozen or so drones dead out front on the stoop of two of the hives.
[forgot my camera so photo from 2014]

No workers were dead, just drones.  I'm not sure if the bees tossed out the drones because we had a sudden change in our weather.

A week ago we had temps of 30 degrees Celsius and the bees were productive and flying.  Then we stepped back into winter - I mean no snow for us here in southwestern Ontario (although they did get some up north) but I had to flip the furnace back on after having the a/c running!

I was deliberately slow to take my wraps off for this very reason.  Early spring can be unpredictable and our weather has been showing more sudden and dramatic changes.  (I had a tornado hit my home last summer.  It didn't ruin the house but the neighbour's tree took out my garage roof.  And sadly I lost all my big trees in the back yard.)

I have now taken the wraps off all hives except one.  It had a very small number of bees, about the size of your fist.  But they did have a queen.  So I left the wrap on to help keep them warm.  I gave them a couple frames of capped brood with the bees on the frame from their sister hive.  I didn't want to give them any eggs or larvae because the the population would be too low and stressed to care for them.  But already capped brood just need to be kept warm until they hatch.

I gave them a sugar syrup baggie laid out on the frames and protein patties.  So essentially all the food they'd need was in the hive.  It's always amazing to watch how after adding the frames how the bees get excited and greet each other.  You can almost see their relief at seeing the recruits coming aboard.  There's no aggression whatsoever.  Then within 30 minutes they had organized themselves and assigned guards at the upper and lower entrance (reduced to keep out cold and protect them from robbing).  Before adding the bees no one was protecting the entrance because there were no bees to spare to guard.

I checked them today and the population has increased, so many of the capped brood have hatched.  The bees were chewing happily on the protein patties.  I gave them a  baggie with fresh warm syrup.  I was glad to feel heat in the hive when I lifted the inner cover.  They are keeping themselves warm and cozy.

I'll keep an eye on the drone situation.  Our temperatures are swinging back up now to hot.  Hopefully it'll stay warm this time and give us a great spring and summer.

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