This past week the weather has been gorgeous - temperatures in the 70's and 80's; lots of sun; and no rain. I've been watching the bees be very busy - the goldenrod is in bloom, and the bees are bringing back lots of orange pollen. As I watch the hives, I see the bees come shooting out of the hive like a gunshot. You can't get in front of the hive without getting in the way, the bees are so industrious. The video above attempts to show this activity, but you can't do it justice on video.
I had a couple of goals in today's inspection: I wanted to make sure the bottom chamber of the brown hive was getting used (I was prepared to move some frames around), and I wanted to do a sugar shake for a mite treatment.
Due to the stings I got last week, I wanted to make sure I had on my boots, and I decided to wear bee gloves. During the inspection I did see a bee try to sting my finger, but all that happened was she lost her stinger on my glove. I had the usual 5 or 6 guard bees hassling me the whole time, flying into my face (protected by my veil, thank goodness) and buzzing around my chest. All I can think of was that they were very protective of the hive since the goldenrod was active. I got no hassles from the green hive. Weird!
For the sugar shake, I built a simple frame (matching the dimensions of the top of the hive) and put a couple of layers of #4 screen on it (I didn't have anything narrower, and the bees can fit through a single layer of #4). Then I shook 2 cups of powdered sugar on the hive, and swept it down between the frames. Here are some pictures of the aftermath. People talk about "ghost bees" because they are coated with powered sugar.
Everything is going well with the green hive - they have plenty of room to expand and store up honey for the winter. I also saw good brood patterns, so the queen is doing her job.
On the brown hive, I decided to start with the bottom brood chamber, to minimize the anger of the bees (by the time I am usually done with the top chamber, the bees are agitated). When I started pulling out frames, I was pleased to find some frames with capped brood! This tells me the queen has been down there laying eggs. I decided not to mess with things, and let the bees do what they need to do. I get mixed answers from BeeSource when I ask what I should do - some say let things be; others say reverse the hive bodies (put the almost empty bottom box on the top, with the understanding that the queen likes to move up when laying); still others will go in frame by frame and switch things around.
The bees on the brown hive still haven't done much with the honey super I put on the top, so I decided to take it off and that allowed me to start feeding the brown hive sugar syrup (I want them to put the sugar in the hive, not in the super). So now I am feeding both hives, and will probably do so until the winter.
A week ago I bought a box of Global Patties from Better Bee. These are patties made of protein as a substitute to pollen. I put one on each of the hives so the bees can have more to store.
Later in the afternoon I was visiting my next door neighbor. He is adding an addition to his house, and doing all the work himself. So I was chatting with him about inconsequentials, when he said, "Hey, what do we do about bees in a bucket?" Oh no I thought, I hope it wasn't my June swarm that has taken up residency! He then told me that he has a big 18 gallon tote on his back deck that had scrap pieces of wood in it, and it got filled up with water. I took a look, and saw that "my"bees had discovered an el-primo water source for their hive (standing water with good places to land). The sticks provided a place for bees to land and gather the water, and that afternoon there were about 20 bees coming and going all the time. Here are some pictures. You may be able to see the bees:
You can see that it is right on their deck! The bucket had collected rainwater since the cover wasn't on it. So I put on my bee suit (just to keep from being hassled by bees) and dumped over the box of water. Here's the view after I did that, with even more confused bees looking for their water source:
I told them that in a day or so the bees will figure out the water is gone, and stop hanging around. They'll go back to an alternate source (which will probably be that family's koi pond, which is less of a problem then bees on the deck). I checked the next day, and sure enough no bees around. Problem solved!
The family was very nice about it - they could have been very upset and caused me a lot of hassles. But they are very considerate, even given the fact the wife is allergic to bees. They understand the importance of bees to the environment. The wife said they thought about spraying the bees so they could remove the bucket, but she said she didn't want to since she knew they were "my" bees (and besides, spraying would only harm the bees there at the time, and do nothing to the bees coming for a drink later). I told them to not to hesitate to let me know if something like this happens, and I'll take care of it.