Beemused: A Blog

Bee-girls enjoying spring

26th March 2008

Bee-girls enjoying spring

Today our local temps hit the mid-50s F, and the bees were definitely out and about. It was lovely to see their pretty golden flashes around our yard again!

Mostly, they were gathering water from our little pond. They did seem to be starting to take syrup from the feeders, too, and there was a lot of pretty random buzzing around the home hives, which I think is relatively new bees starting to orient themselves for field work.

We’re not in a climate that has anything much for them to gather at this point. I’m hoping we can add the pollen patties to the hives this weekend, to support early growth. In another week or so there will be pollen and nectar starting locally, too.

I am truly thrilled that all 3 hives made it through the winter! :)


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24th March 2008

Bees: Mouseguards off today

This morning I removed the mouseguards, so the girls could proceed with spring cleaning whenever the weather seemed suitable to them. There were lots of dead bees in Elizabeth, and I helped out by removing those ( it is a sobering sight, that pile of bee carcasses. Memento mori…). Susan and Mary, on the other hand, had almost no dead bees in the hive but plenty on the ground in front of the entrance. I assume that since Susan and Mary get the sun for about an hour before Elizabeth, they have had more chances to clean up.

I also put in the Boardman feeders with the syrup Amanda cooked up yesterday. We want to give the girls everything they need to get a good start this year.


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18th March 2008

OMG! Too many BEES! aka, swarming

One of our beekeeping challenges for the upcoming summer is dealing with swarming. We got off easy last year; our bees are largely Italians, and since they were new hives, they were more inclined to work on the existing home rather than trying to create new ones.

But this summer? all bets are off. The way bees reproduce, basically, is by splitting 1 hive into 2 or more… and our hives are now mature, and thus eager to do this. (Remember that, for bees, in many ways the individual is the hive, not the single bee…)

So. We are needing to research swarming and its prevention. Now, we also need to research this with an eye to NOT splitting the hives; if we lived in a rural area and wanted and had a place for more hives… well, the bees want to make more hives, and we want more hives, so we just need to work out the details. But here? We could maybe add 1 more hive to our “bee yard”, and possibly another in a more visible area if it did not scream “BEEHIVE!!!” at anyone who looked at it. (Remember: we are very, very suburban.) So. Splitting the hives is not an attractive option.

Honestly, I don’t even have much objection to their swarming in principle, even though it does weaken the existing hives. The problem is that the older, proven queen will depart with the swarm, leaving an unhatched and- tellingly- unmated queen to take her place. Since we have not seen any amount of honeybees around before we got our hives, we are fairly confident that a virgin queen will not, shall we say, become “fulfilled” around here. No dudes. (And a well-mated queen needs 10-20!) And this means the hive dies.

So. I would rather we did what we can to prevent swarming at this point. We have Italians, which are less fond of swarming than most other strains, so that’s a help. And I am looking into re-queening our hives come Sept., preferably with queens that have been raised from more Northern strains of bees (our packages were from Georgia!). But- I do need to look into swarm prevention approaches, to minimize it as much as possible so as to not weaken our hives unduly. And, I hope, to not create more beehives than we know what to do with!


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16th March 2008

Spoiling the girls; or, how to spend lots of money on bugs that don’t care

I just ordered our girls some stuff for the upcoming season. Most important were the pollen-substitute patties, which help them build up the hive even when there’s not much pollen around naturally (like, now!), and an essential-oil based treatment for one of the types of mites that are a problem.

But- to order these, I had to browse the catalogs. And oh! there are so many things one could buy to enhance the work of the bees, or, more commonly, the work with the bees. We did get a couple of those, too: brackets that make it easier to pull frames from the hives and examine them; and some pellets for the smoker that promise that they are easy-to-light (a difficulty we’ve been having).

There are so very many other enticing items, though. I had to be ruthless. Utterly ruthless!

Also: I don’t know why I have yet to find a beekeeping supplier with a truly decent and effective online ordering system. I ended up calling this one in.


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14th March 2008

Bees in the Walls

It is not a great idea to allow bees to build hives in the walls of one’s house. Not only are there then bees in one’s house- which may not be a delight and a wonder- but the honey is heavy enough that it can pose structural problems.

But then, there’s these people, who have co-existed with bees for maybe 25 years, but it’s becoming an issue. Read about it on BoingBoing, or on the original article (which does try to install a pop-up). No pictures either place, unfortunately.


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14th March 2008

The girls are out! The bees are exploring

It’s in the mid-50sF today, and there’s lots of bee activity. I’m going to make some syrup later in the day, since there’s nothing much to interest them at present- though they are getting water.

Spring is coming!


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