Friday, October 9, 2009

Home....Home at Last!

It was their first day in the new location.

I had to work but I watched the sun rise that morning and for once it was going to be a cloudless and sunny day.

I thought that was a very fitting welcome for the bees. It would give them some decent weather to begin exploring the new area.

So they're city slickers now. I went right after work to see them - it gets dark so quickly these days that the photos look like night time when it's actually about 5:30 p.m. I did my "chores" first though using daylight and left the photography for just before I was leaving.

I had to open the hive - briefly. Not for an inspection but to add more powder for their AFB treatment.

All the powder that was there was gone so I'm presuming they ate it (I didn't see it all over the sticky board at the bottom of the hive).

I also put their Formic Acid pad back on it's little stilts. It had shifted in the move which I anticipated it would.

And finally I topped up their sugar water feeder. It doesn't look like either hive has taken any syrup in the last week or so. I'll be keeping an eye on that.

I worked really quickly so that the hive wasn't open long, releasing all their heat, so no photos of the inside.

Next I did mite counts. Hive #2 had at least 200 mites on their sticky board. The week before the treatment the mite drop was about 18. Quite a difference.

Hive #1 had 50+ mites. I'm very glad I did the Formic Acid treatment and my friend Henry confirmed that it was a good idea. I recharged the boards with Crisco and tucked them back inside.

I still need to question whether it's okay to leave the screened bottom boards in all winter or will it be too drafty? Any advice or comments on that? NOD Apiaries makes bee cosies and I have two so that should help keep the bees warm but those won't go on until November.
There were a few bees coming and going from the hive, flying straight out and others flying straight back. It wasn't that warm a day so I didn't expect to see a lot of activity but it was reassuring to see things look normal.

I managed to keep the hives in their same orientation as the other bee yard. I didn't get to see the hives get loaded on the truck (I was at the yard in the swamp and the truck was parked at the edge of the swamp). I noticed that if I hadn't marked the outsides of the hives then I wouldn't have known which hive was #1 and which was #2.

A couple months ago I marked each hive front with a symbol. I just used a green sharpie marker and put a square on Hive #1 and a triangle on Hive #2, near where the front entrance reducer goes. Why you ask? That's a great question. I did it because research has proven that bees use visual landmarks as guides, among other things too like scents and the sun.

When my beautiful queen was found dead on the ground in front of the hive I thought she might have returned from mating and accidentally flown into the wrong hive and gotten herself stung. That's when I decided to put the symbols on the hive so that when the bees orient themselves in front of the hive before leaving, they'll see the symbol for their hive. And yes, they can tell the difference between a square and a triangle...and they can count to 4! To learn more about it, see my blog on a lecture I attended in the spring (

What we found very surprising is when Henry said that Hive #1 - the hive that requeened and then I had to purchase a queen for - had the right amount of weight for winter. Somehow this hive has caught up and made up for falling so far behind. I would not have guessed that instead it's Hive #2 that needs to bulk up a bit.

Because we were moving the hives, I took the opportunity to paint some 4x4' boards to put on top of the pallets. Once I dropped my hive tool and it fell between the pallet's slats so now that won't happen again. There's a bit of an overhang too which makes for a nice front porch.

This weekend is the Canadian Thanksgiving. Monday is a holiday. We'll be getting together as a family to enjoy turkey and all the trimmings. It's a great time to give thanks for all our blessings. I'm especially thankful that the bees have finally found their home.


Seeds in the City. said...

wow, Barbara! Well done! I'm so happy for your bees and their gorgeous new home. City bees are happy bees!

Good to know about the symbols. Will try that when we have multiple hives.

I've heard / read that draftiness isn't a problem, that wet is. I'd go with what your local beeks say though, my area isn't known for freezing weather. ;)

Anonymous said...

Yay!!! Safe and cozy in their new home :)

PhilipH said...

Another fascinating read Barbara.

Pleased to see that your 'ladies' are now safely moved to their new home.

The symbols! Now that is such a surprise to learn! You sure do impart some ever expanding knowledge of the subject.

Great stuff. Well done.

Steven C. said...

I have formic acid pads on my hive too (with a 2" shim), and the bees aren't taking any sugar syrup I have in the top feeders. I think it's because they don't want to get near the formic acid pads (in my hives, I can see the pads through the inner cover hole about 1/2 way). I think when I remove the pads in a couple of weeks they will start taking the sugar.

Bee Magic Chronicles for Kids said...

Thanks everyone so much for your encouragement. It's very helpful to know there people rooting for us :)

Steven C: I think you might be right about the stink of the Formic. My beek supplier John said this morning that once a nice day comes along the bees will take up quite a bit of syrup... but I think it'll probably be after the Formic Pad is gone or worn out. Have your mite drop counts jumped a lot?

Anonymous said...


Congrats, Barbara! And might I add that you have a spiffy looking spot for the ladies! I like it! And just think, unless there is some major event, they'll be just fine where they are. I know you're please.

About the screened bottom boards and winter, I read that if you have a strong colony, then you usually don't have to close them off -- weak colony, close them.

I have corrugated cardboard that fits under my hive so I can close the screened bottom board off (remember, my new hive stand has a screened top too..lots of ventilation). At this point, since I have a strong hive crammed with bees, I plan to close mine off only if the temps drop way down. Then I can pull it out when everything warms up some. Course I do change my mind a lot, so who knows -- things could change, haha!

Congrats again!

Bee Magic Chronicles for Kids said...

I have my screened bottom board so it's open at the back and I duct taped (like a flap) a piece of that plastic corrigated cardboard - so it is closed of. But that wouldn't provide much for insulation. I was thinking of putting a board across the back of the hive for winter but I wondered if just that extra space inside at the bottom of the hive would become a cold air pocket.

Cliff W said...

Nice one Barbara! It looks a vast improvement on the "swamp" with the blasted mosquitoes.

As we say on this side of the pond "every cloud has a silver lining".

Kat said...

Glad the bees are getting comfy in their new location! Very interesting read. Happy Thanksgiving to you!