Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Weather Bees

Seasoned beekeepers learn to pay attention to the activity of the bees as it relates directly to the weather.

Most evenings around 5:00PM the bees are still quite active, mostly coming in from a long day of foraging (or finishing up orienting flights). Last evening I checked the bees, and there were very few bees still out. Most had gone in already. And this morning, the bees weren't really coming out and starting their collecting activities like they had in days past.

Sure enough, the weather forecast is for some rain later today, and even I can tell it in the air. You also don't want to work the bees when the weather is bad - they get cranky!

Last night I filled up the jar with sugar syrup - the bees had consumed the syrup that was there. I just gave them a little smoke to do it - I didn't suit up or anything. The jar is just under the outer cover, so I don't have to disturb too many bees (just the dozen or so who were on the feeder and who came out to investigate what I was doing). I'll be feeding them right up until winter, in order to get them built up strong enough to survive the winter (that hive was started late in the season).

Speaking of eating, the bees also need water. I think my bees get theirs from my next door neighbor's Koi pond. I had put out a bucket for them early on, and they ignored it (bees prefer running water to standing water).

One of the 50 or so bee blogs I follow posted this picture of his bees drinking. I thought it was so cute!!

(picture is from this blog post)


  1. I'm surprised you have to go to so much trouble to feed your bees sugar water. My dad can replace the jar from the outside, without opening the hive. I wonder if there are regional differences. He told me that the keepers he's been talking to drill holes in the outside of the honey supers so that the workers don't have to go through the queen excluder because it has a tendency to damage their wings. What do you think?

  2. It sounds like he has a Boardman feeder. Those work, but they could encourage robbing (since any bee simply needs to go just inside the hive entrance to get the sugar syrup). I am just using an inverted jar method of feeding, which sits right on the inner cover, and is surrounded by a hive body. The benefit here is that the syrup is closer to the bees, and outside bees can't easily rob it. Plus, I don't own a Boardman, but do have mason jars (I also use an empty plastic peanut butter jar). Here is a comparison of the different feeding types.

    Regarding drilling holes in the supers, yes, I've heard of that. I heard of the problem of the queen excluder damaging the wings of the bees, but only for those excluders which are slots cut in sheet aluminum. I have a "BBQ grill" type, which is less prone to damage. Also, some people just set back the super about 1/2" and that creates an entrance. Interesting discussion on upper entrances here.

    Good comments! Sounds like your dad has lots of experience.

  3. no more than you - just a different set of mentors!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin