Beemused: A Blog

Article on Nectar, and Bee Update

11th June 2007

Article on Nectar, and Bee Update

posted in Readings, Our Hives |

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.

-Amanda

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  1. 1 On June 11th, 2007, Naamah_Darling said:

    That is a really cool article. Entertaining and informative.

    Before you started talking about it I had no idea bees and yellowjackets were mutually hostile competitors. What an interesting ecology bees have!

  2. 2 On June 11th, 2007, AF said:

    They’re partly competitors, true. Both like the sugar syrup- though yellow jackets also go for meat, which the bees don’t, so I’ve done a bit of research into meat-based wasp traps to put by the hives.

    The other part, though, is that the yellow jackets are predators, and they’re trying to rob the hive. The girls don’t like that. Now, wasps are tough enough that the workers can’t sting them through their shells, so what they do is surround them and vibrate themselves to raise the heat- basically, cooking the wasps to death. Pretty ruthless, eh? Anyway, they need time and a number of bees to do this, while the yellow jackets can take out a bee more easily. Reducing the entrance limits the number of wasps that can enter the hives- I guess even a few can be pretty devastating, and I bet they devour brood, too- and makes the hives easier to defend.

    I’m thinking, though,that if it looks like we’ve got a serious yellow jacket problem, we probably need to move to feeding the girls inside the hive only. The feeders we have are mostly in the hive- but right at the entrance, so they might be attracting the nasties.

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