Fall Feeding and new acquistions

 

So this week, I made another visit to hives at the Woodland Garden to feed the bees in preparation for the winter.  Until the weather turns, I will be going every 7-10 days to feed them. This time, I was joined by a fellow Urban Gardner Floyd who recently completed the beekeeping class in Baltimore County but, does not have any hives of his own. He was eager to see the bees up close and he was helpful in the quick feeding process. Since, I have extra suits in my car and I am helping others so, I thought it was fun to play teacher a bit.

Good news! the possibly queenless hive that I mentioned in a previous post has recovered and has crowned a queen. Thus, they seem to be building up the second box. Moreover, these bees are no longer directionless which is a good thing.

I still need to decide whether or not to combine the hives. So, I fed both hives some 2:1 feed with essential oils. I know that I going to have to a treatment in the next week so, I will post that information as well.

Below is a hive I recently acquired at the main park heights site so, I started to feed these guys on Wednesday.

 

While inspecting the hive, I noticed that the hive has wax moths so, I don’t know how long it’s going last.  The wax moth can be highly destructive and it may be affecting the brood box.

But, I got a great deal on the equipment and the hive. I will be online looking at ways to save these bees and helping them through the winter. I will also do some posting on the cleaning and preparation of the hive equipment for next year. There is some debate on whether or not to use old equipment but, these hives were neglected and recently inspected by the state so I think the equipment is worth the time and effort.

There will be posting on the cleaning and preparation of the hive equipment for next year as related to the new acquisitions. There is some debate on whether or not to use old equipment but, these hives were neglected and recently inspected by the state so I think the equipment is worth the time and effort.

Moreover, I will do a deeper dive and share more photos in the next few weeks. As for this post, I thought I would share what I have now to keep the blog up to date on the October actions and to share some new photos.

Michelle

 

 

Feeding in the rain…

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Rainy day Beekeeper selfie

Well, we finally got some rain in the Baltimore area over the last few days. The plants have really needed it because it has been very dry and hot over the last month. Today was the first day that almost felt like fall. On the bright side, the rain was more like mist,  so I decided to go out and feed the bees in the mid-afternoon.

As I mentioned before, it’s getting late in the season and the bees are storing up food for the winter.  This post will provide some quick photos on how I make Bee Syrup.  It is not that much different from Mick’s large-scale method except there are no power tools involved.

To make Bee Syrup, I use the following items:

The mixture is quite easy since it is essentially sugar water, and I add 10-15 drops of each essential oil to the mix and then add sugar at 2 to 1 ratio.  I then mixed the sugar with the slightly boiling water and stir for a few minutes. Next, I pour the mix into recycled jars since I have only a few hives and I use a frame feeder which only holds 1 gallon of feed in each hive which requires more frequent feedings.

Since it was raining today, the bees were pretty docile. However, I had one or two guard bees approach me, but no drama (ie no stings). I would like to think they were happy to get the syrup and let me off easy 🙂 Below are some photos of the hives today.

Check in again soon for more updates!

Michelle

Fall bee duties and more bee stuff…

Part of fall beekeeping is increased feeding and treating the bees for mites that often have a devastating effect on the hive’s health and survival. Many of the winter hive failures are due pests that overtake the bees during the winter months. Over the past few weeks, I have been going out with my bee mentor Mick to tend his hives in various locations and as always I have been learning a great deal.  Throughout September, I have been noting the routines and tasks for the late summer and fall months.

It has been interesting to watch various bee behaviors like robbing. Robbing is when invading bees and wasps (yellow jackets) take the honey and food from hives.  In the collage above the photo of the tule of the frames was something that Mick tried during the feeding process to calm down the bees during a robbing session.

Just as another point of education, the above are photos of various sizes and types hive boxes. These are Langstroth 8 and 10 frame boxes. Some beekeepers use other types of hives like the top-bar and even the more controversial newer flow hive.  I have gravitated to the Langstroth but, I would like to try a top-bar hive.

The smaller blue styrofoam box with mason jar feeder is a Nuc (or Nucleus) which are a small colony of bees– usually a package, swarm or split.  In each of the Nuc boxes, there are 4-5 frames for the bees to build out and are used as a temporary home for the bees. This Nuc may be left in the small box for the winter or maybe moved to a larger hive if they are thriving. The issue with moving the Nuc to a larger box is that bees like their spaces to be filled and in the winter bees are in survival mode.

In earlier posts about I mentioned feeding and bee syrup, to be more specific, beekeepers often use in hive feeders which can be boxes/frames that hold the syrup so that the bees can supplement their late fall foraging. I have noticed that the warm temperatures this fall seemed to have helped some plant species thrive, but it has also confused the natural timeline a bit. The pollen count is still not what it was a few weeks ago.

Another observation has been that the more that we feed, the more syrup that is consumed. We have begun to change the formula from 2:1 to 2.5:1 (this is our made-up mix) or 3:1. We will see how this works and hopefully, this will keep the bees happy through the winter. Below are the larger containers of syrup that we mix to feed the many hives. The other day, we made 18 containers of bee syrup (5-gallon) using our power sizing method. When I make up my syrup at home, I make much smaller batches.

We have begun to change the formula from 2:1 to 2.5:1 (this is our made-up mix) or 3:1. We will see how this works and hopefully, this will keep the bees happy through the winter. Below are the larger containers of syrup that we mix to feed the many hives. The other day, we made 18 containers of bee syrup (5-gallon) using our power sizing method. When I make up my syrup at home, I make much smaller batches.

Now to treatments, I have seen online a myriad of methods to treat for varroa and other pests. Many of the natural beekeeping methods discourage the use of the products and encourage the use of natural oils as part of the feed process. We have used a hybrid approach to adding the essential oil to the feed but, we have been using Hopguard II to the hive and we will be doing Oxalic Acid treatment.

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Hopguard II Treatment

I have not quite decided what to do with my remaining personal hives (because of the status of the weak and the strong hive). However, I worry about the various pests, because I have seen them in other hives and number of early hive failures that I have seen this year concerns me.

Here is a link for some other interesting information on treatments for varroa.  I hope that this post has been informative and helpful!

Tell me your thoughts!

Feeding the bees

Last week, we got out to add a new top box and feed the bees. As I mentioned before, yes you have to feed the bees to supplement the what they forage at the garden. Warren, my Mom, and Sophia helped out a great deal with documenting the process. We also had the drone out so, I will add video to the site as a seperate post.

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Drone Sept 2017

The digital SLR photography for this was done by my 11-year-old Sophia and my Mom (Valerie) took the next set of shots on her iPhone to add some more perspective. I am very lucky to have so much talent in documenting the process.

 

The new frame feeders are nice and they take around one gallon of bee syrup per hive. It is not a lot but, it’s a good start. In this batch of syrup, I used 1:1 sugar/water mix with essential oils like (tea tree, lavender, and thyme oil).

I checked on the hives the other day and they were both active and healthy so much so that I could not get close enough to add my feed without the guard bees getting excited. So, I added a half a bottle but had to walk away. I tried to use my dried herb as smoker fuel, it works but does not last as long as the stuff you buy. I think I will mix both and test my results.

I also used the newly painted boxes (I let them air out for 3 weeks), so the site has a bit of art with the new equipment. I will post again soon. Let me know what you think?

Michelle

 

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