Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Best Laid Plans...Rained Away

I made the decision that I would follow the guidelines for opening hives in cold weather and I would feed my bees.

[The hives are farther back between two trees and on higher ground].

I made up my sugar syrup and put it in Ziploc baggies. I had ordered pollen patties so I had them on hand too.

We were scheduled for rain on Sat but I was hoping it would clear for an hour or so. The temp was predicted to be +8C. At home it was spitting rain lightly so I packed up the truck and headed out.

But four miles away at the bee yard it was raining too heavily. Sun was predicted to be cooler but with Sunshine so I stowed my plans for that day and instead observed the hives and took photos.

Lifting up the bottom of the plastic hive wrap I could see a small pile of dead bees. A chickadee was very active flying down and grabbing the dead bodies to eat.

At least nature doesn't waste an opportunity for a meal.

I took the last of our honey in mid Sept. This was much too late I later realized. The temperatures in Sept grow cold too quickly and when I gave the bees their Fumigilin B treatment for Nosema one hive (Hive #2) didn't eat it. The result you can see in this photo below.

It looks like a really bad case of Nosema--bee diarrhea outside the upper entrance of Hive #2.

This hive was a concern with heavy mite loads all summer that treatments couldn't seem to get rid off.

There were bees hatching with deformed wings too, from mite damage.

Then they wouldn't take their syrup. The blame for this is my own inexperience.

Next year we'll take the last of our honey the end of August, leaving more time for the bees to restock their supplies. I'll take less from them too until I gain more experience with this.

Hive #2's entrance was covered in snow, and I didn't see any dead bodies out front - bees going on cleansing flights and hitting the snow and dying.

I think this is not a good sign and that this hive might have died. I've been kicking my butt all winter over this mistake but it's time to let it go and write it down as a learning experience.

The other three hives look good, with bees coming out on cleansing flights.

It'll snow Sat night but Sunday will be sunny and 0 degrees. I plan to open the hives quickly and add feed.


Anonymous said...

Why take any honey in the fall at all? Why not take in the spring when they've started making honey? That way, you leave the maximum amount of honey over the winter.

Bee Magic Chronicles for Kids said...

Anonymous - you're right. That's my plan - to take the honey end of Aug and leave them the fall honey.

The only thing about fall honey though is that is mostly aster honey which crystalizes fast. The spring honey didn't crystalize at all.

Hemlock said...

Hi Barbara,
Are you a member of a local club. It would be good to know when they take their last surplus honey. Late August sounds a little late, but i don't know your area of course. I say that because down here we consider August to be the first month of Winter storage.

Anyway, hope the Sun comes out soon. Healthy bees & plenty of honey to you.

Bee Magic Chronicles for Kids said...

Hemlock, you raise a good point. I am part of a club so I will ask more people. The few at the club I talked to said they take theirs off the last week of Aug but I'd like to hear from more members. I'm in southern Ontario.