Beemused: A Blog

Yellowjackets - again

12th June 2007

Yellowjackets - again

This morning as I was feeding Elizabeth I saw another yellowjacket hanging about. It landed on the syrup container that is part of the feeder, apparently finding drops of syrup on the outside (there is always a bit of spillage when opening and closing the feeder). A few of the girls came over to investigate, and the yellowjacket took off. It headed toward the shed in the driveway, but there are overgrown stone walls that are probably irresistible to yellowjackets all around the driveway, so it could be nesting anywhere.

So far I’ve seen no evidence of damage to the hive, no bee fragments or even dead bees. Still, I’m concerned - I have 10’s of thousands of dependents to worry about! This weekend we’ll have to try the meat-baited traps for the yellowjackets.


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11th June 2007

Article on Nectar, and Bee Update

I have just found this article on nectar, and it’s very informative- a pretty interesting insight into what the plants are doing, and what our bees are after when they do it. Cool!

And our bees are encountering a bit of a problem: yellow jackets. Justin has been reading up on wasps vs. honeybees, and we put the entrance reducers back in the hives a few days ago to help the girls fight off any such invaders. This morning, he also helped by squishing one with a stick! The narrowed hive entrance does seem to help the girls be able to defend the hive- rather like a fortress- and I’m going to look into some of the metal entrance bars and see if there are any that allow bees to pass but not the larger wasps. The smaller entrance will unfortunately make it harder for the girls to cool off the hives in summer’s heat- but our bottom boards have a layer of mesh with a plastic plate underneath (mainly for mite control approaches), and we can remove the plastic when it gets really warm. The other thing that helps is cracking the cover of the hive, though, and that would give the wasps another place to enter. Another thing to research, it seems!

We haven’t been in the hives except for the quick check for viable brood in a couple of weeks now, between uncooperative weather and various other things in our lives. Fortunately, the bees tend to prefer it that way… Still, I’d like to check several frames per hive soon! Maybe tomorrow night, assuming we have some weather cooperation at last.


8th June 2007

Mary is a bit more feisty

I’ve noticed that when I fill the syrup containers Elizabeth and Susan are pretty mellow, while Mary starts getting somewhat agitated.  This may be because I usually start with Elizabeth, then proceed to Susan, and finish up with Mary, and she’s feeling a bit miffed at being last again.  Or it may be because Mary tends to get the sun first and so her bees are more wide awake and loaded for bear (I’m not a bear!  Really!).   In any case, Mary always makes me glad I’m wearing my veil!

In any case the girls are going through syrup at a good pace and have just about finished the pollen substitute that we started them off with.  We’ll add another slab of pollen substitute when we look in on the 2nd level hive bodies.


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3rd June 2007

Pictures! Second Hive Inspection (5-28-07)

Pictures! There are more under the cut.

Elizabeth: Second Inspection Elizabeth: Second Inspection
We only pulled one frame from each hive this time, because we were just checking for brood. And we found it! You can see here 3 types of cells in the honeycomb: the white ones in the upper left corner are capped “honey” (because in this case it’s almost entirely sugar syrup), ready to be used to nourish the babies; the cells right below it are partially full of more syrup, of which the bees evaporate most of the water before they cap it as above; and the rest- the golden, matte-textured cells (called “capped brood”)- each contain a bee in pupal stage. The darker golden cells amongst the capped brood mostly contain bee larva food and growing larvae. Read the rest of this entry

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