Sunday, April 29, 2012

Seeking Water

We did have a hot spell back in March but it didn't last.  Cold weather has swept in since then, but with the cold we didn't get rain.

Farmers had planted their seed and they were saying that if they didn't get rain soon that their crops would be late for the season--ripened plants in late fall run the risk of being destroyed by early frosts.  We did get some rain which I'm sure helped.

But we didn't get a lot.

At the bee yard I was up at the abandoned house.  It's all boarded up.  I saw bees flying around the front steps and I wondered what they were up to?  Were they house hunting scouts?

[Photo - extra supers to give more space to booming hives.   The apple tree behind is in bloom but too cold to offer nectar/pollen I think because the bees ignored it that day].

I stopped to watch.  They were focused on a couple pieces of plastic - like those plasticised signs.  After waiting for a minute I saw their tongues were out.  What were they licking up I wondered.

Then I headed to the our hives and there I saw the same thing.  I have old political cardboard signs on top of my hive outer covers.  They create a natural rain and shade porch for the bees.  Bricks hold them in place.  Again, bees were licking these card board signs - putting their tongues into the open ends.

Then I realized that it was water they were sucking up.

Despite a lack of rain for the season, there's still a lot of water in the area - creeks and a huge lake.  But considering bees don't forage so far in early spring, maybe they didn't know about these other sources of water yet.

I put water out for them and within a few minutes several bees were licking it up.

Then today there was a swarm call.  A neighbour on my niece's street had washed his car and it was covered with bees.  The neighbour was concerned and had turned the hose on them to wash them off.  He even resorted to driving around to try to shake them off.  I was out of town but Dad was able to go over and brush them into a hive.  He left the hive until evening.  If they were a swarm they'd most likely be in the hive by dark.

They weren't.

When talking to Dad he said the bees were all over the car as well as a wet cloth that the man had draped over a lamp post.  The cloth was so covered in bees he said you couldn't pick it up.  I asked if he waxed the car and he said no, and that he always washes his car every week and had never seen bees before.

This sounds like very thirsty bees to me.  There's even a wide river less than 1/2 a mile from that location so there is water close by.

Strange and stranger.  I'm sorry to miss out on a neighbourhood swarm but this confirms there are bees on that street somewhere.  I did get a swarm from there last year and they're my best bees.

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