Archive for September, 2007

Inspection of Hive #2

September 22, 2007

I realized while I was uploading the pictures for this post, its been 3 weeks since I posted last. I also hadn’t checked on the bees in that length of time too. When I went out to check on them though, they seem just fine.

The first thing to notice was that there were a whole lot fewer bees on the front of the hive. There were still plenty at the entrance, and a good number coming and going. This isn’t to much of a surprise though since it has finally cooled down a bit. I believe that today is supposed to be in the low 90’s, but this last week had been in the upper 70’s and low 80’s. The nights have also been down into the 60’s which feels much better (it had been very hot). Even better, we got a bit of rain. Not nearly enough to refill the reservoirs, but every little bit helps.

Its been 3 weeks since I had checked on the bees, so I hadn’t given them any sugar syrup in at least that long either. I can’t remember exactly, but I don’t think I did the last time I went either, meaning its been over a month. In any case, I haven’t ever given them as much as they would take. When I make sugar syrup, I use 6 cups of sugar and 6 cups of water (it make a little over 2 quarts). Split between two hives, that amount never lasts even a week. I had been hoping that there would be at least a small fall flow for them to build up stores. I figured they needed some feed though because back in mid July they had essentially no stored honey. As I check hive #2 however, I was pleasantly surprised to find some capped honey. They also had a good bit of uncapped nectar also. Since I haven’t fed them in a while, it appears that they have found something to collect. 🙂 The few small recent rains may have helped.

Since I was not sure how they were doing I had made up some sugar syrup before going out so they got fed too. Though there were fewer bees on the front of the hive, the population in the hives seemed fine (I think it was just the cooler weather). I pulled a number of combs to check, and saw some stores along with a small mount of capped brood and larva. I wasn’t expecting much in the way of brood as they wouldn’t want to be building up now, but its nice to see some at least. I also ran into the queen, and she seemed fine. I saw a couple of small hive beetles, but not many (no sign of damage). I still haven’t seen signs of varroa problems yet either. Over all, the hive seems healthy though still a little short on stores. I keep an eye on that going forward.

On the “not a bee but still a bug”, here is a gratuitous spider picture. My wife actually saw this guy on some crape myrtle near our house while we were on a evening walk with our daughters. I checked the next morning if it was still there and was able to get a few pictures. It’s a nice green color that blended well with the seed pods/fruit and leaves.

A Powdered Sugar Roll

September 1, 2007

I was reminded that it was about time I checked my bees for Varroa mites. I haven’t yet seen signs of problems, but before winter, I will need to decide whether the bees need to be treated in some way for mites. There are a few ways to check for mites. One is to count the number of mites being dropped from the hive by placing a greased bottom board in and then counting the mites on it after a day or two. Since its still hot here, I don’t really want to close off the screened bottoms of the hives. I decided to do a powdered sugar roll. The idea is simple. You catch some bees in a jar, add powdered sugar, and roll the bees around in it. The powdered sugar dislodges the mites and you pour out the sugar (and mites) through a screen in the lid. You count the mites and return the sugar coated bees to the hive.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I think I may have needed to catch more bees. I just scooped up some and that turned out to be ~20 for each hive. The instructions suggest 100-300 bees. Call this a run through…

I used a mason jar and cut out a circle of #8 hardware cloth to fit (leftover from the hive bottoms).

Of my ~20 bees per hive, I couldn’t find any varroa.  I think thats a good sign, but I can’t guarantee I did it right.  I think I will try again a bit later in the fall and try to use more bees.  I might also see if I can see someone experience do it before then.  That way I know I am doing it well enough.

It was interesting watching the bees when I returned them.  They didn’t seem to have any trouble being  accepted by their sisters.  The bees immediately started grooming them (you could see their little tongues).  The other thing I though was funny was that a number of the returned bees immediately started fanning (butts up in the air, wings beating hard).  They normally do this to call other bees home (like saying “follow my scent, home is this way”).  I guess if a bee get lost/disoriented it assumes there were others with the same problem and wants to help them out?

Now for two off topic, gratuitous pictures.

I found this guy on an empty hive (owned by the landowner where I keep my hives).  He/she was just hanging out and stood still for the photo.

I mentioned that we are in a drought here.  To get to my hives, I drive past University Lake (just outside Chapel Hill, NC).  Here is a shot I took while driving by on my way home.   The west end of the lake looks more like a pasture.  I hope we get rain soon.