Monthly Archives: October 2012

Bee Gone Ye Wretched Freeloading Boys !!

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(Remember… Sir James is a terrible Scribe !)

So yesterday evening I witnessed the expulsion of a few of the Boys.  Oh that’s right… since the last time I blogged, Queen Vicky felt like laying, or the Girls felt like raising, some Drones!  Just a few, but enough to peak my interest, since there hadn’t been any all summer long.  Not sure if the boys accomplished anything, but it’s now obviously time for them to go !  One Boy was already kicked out and dead on the ground.  I watched another being dragged out the entrance by one of the Girls, only to ever so luckily escape her grasp and slowly lumber back inside.  You days are numbered, my son.

Much has happened since last we scribed in the middle of August and fall is definitely in the air.  In fact, it was down right winter this morning.

So we apparently have this plant in our yard called Glade Privet.  And on August 18th, it bloomed.  And when I saw it bloomed… I mean it BLOOMED !!  I had never even noticed the plant/shrub before.  But one evening as I was out looking at the vegetable garden, and I heard Girls… it’s crazy how I can hear Girls now and I can even tell when they are Honey Girls or Not Honey Girls.  I was like, “Wow, I can hear Girls, where are they”.  Then I saw them and it was like Little Monsters at a GaGa concert!  They were everywhere, and they were partying down !  Apparently Glade Privet is the Bees Knees…. literally !!  (pun intended).  I started looking around the yard and discovered this stuff is all over, but only the big bush by the vegetable garden was really blooming.  I suspect it is because it gets significant water from our neighbors sprinklers, as  I know that our sprinklers do not water that back part of the yard.  The Glade Privet party lasted for about 6 days, non-stop, and then it was over as quickly as it had begun.  It an odd lanky shrub with almost insignificant greenish flowers.  But it does have an intoxicating smell that the Girls loved.  I hope some of my Girls got to partake in the fun and it wasn’t just all Ferals.  I tried to watch as Girls were leaving to see which hive they returned to, but it was just too difficult.


I have actually been bee-zuly, (get it… busily ??) reading a great new book all about top-bar beekeeping, nothing else… just top-bars.  It has definitely enlightened me regarding a number of things.

First, when I had the comb collapse tragedy after the first month, I shouldn’t have removed the comb.  I actually should have placed it at the back and just leaned it up against the wall and left it.  I had originally down that for a brief time, but then did finally remove it.  That was a mistake.  Lesson learned.

Secondly, I should have been moving empty top bars in front of that last honey comb all along.  My idea turned out to be correct.  Turns out this is an actually top bar beekeeping manipulation method to coax them to generate new comb.  I’m annoyed that I didn’t think of this sooner and try it earlier because I am concerned that the Girls don’t have enough reserves to make it through the winter.  Had I been utilizing this method all summer, I’m sure they would have built more comb.

I did actually feed the girls for 4 days straight with a 2:1 sugar syrup, AND… I placed the feeder inside the hive !  When I originally did it, I was all suited up.  I didn’t really bother the girls.  I basically opened the back of the hive and place the feeder within.  I did check on the last comb because the Girls did have some nectar that I could see on the back side for the longest time.  Then it suddenly disappeared.  I started to panic thinking that they had been robbed, but there was still capped honey on the front side.  That was also when I noticed the Drone cells and found it interested that Vicky had laid some Boys so late in the season.  Also, the comb that they were laid one was quite unusual.  It was very wavy and different thicknesses.

As I had said, the Girls were very very calm, so the next day when I went to take out the empty feeder and replace it with a new full one, I decided to try my luck sans suit.  I was a little nervous, but took my time and made sure to exhale away from the hive.  My heart was racing and I began sticking my hand in to retrieve the empty feeder.  I’m there… I’ve grasped the feeder, now to slowly take it out. Gently… ever so gently.  Almost there… Almost there… Just a few more inches… And then it happened !!  My fingers slipped !!  The empty feeder falls back into the hive with a very loud bang!  I panic and hold my breath waiting for the inevitable massacre that is about the happen to me.  I can run, I tell myself.  I can run to the house and put on my suit and fix the mess, I say.

But nothing happens !  A few girls fly out, but not even right at me.  Wow.  How lucky was that?  But the feeder is still in there, and now it’s LAYING down.  Am I crazy for thinking I should stick my hand back in AGAIN?  Wouldn’t a smart and sane man go get the suit ?  Or at least the gloves ?

But I was living on the edge that day and threw caution to the wind…. Woooooosh !! (That was my caution being blown away by the wind!)… (Actually there was no wind that day … so in actuality my caution would have just thudded to the ground!)

I licked my fingers and wiped them on my shorts to make sure there were not slippery.  I took and deep breath.. and exhaled AWAY from the hive… and slowly re-inserted my my hand and arm into the open hive.  I slowly grasped the feeder again and began to retrieve it.  Slowly.. slowly… gently… let’s not drop it again… slowly… almost there…. SUCCESS !!  I DID IT !!

I removed the empty feeder without one sting.  I gently placed the the full feeder into the hive and closed her up !  I was extremely proud of myself.  And repeated this three more times on the following three days.  It’s been cold the last few mornings and days, in the 60’s during the days and the 40’s at night.  However, it is supposed to be in the 70’s Thursday through Sunday, so I am hoping to feed the Girls again on those four days.

I am quite anxious over the approaching winter and whether the Girls will survive.  I purchased some insulation panels for the hive in hopes that I can give them any edge possible to make it through.  Another concern is their propalizing.  The Girls have done an excellent job of propalizing the small cracks along the bottom of the hive, along the cracks along the false back and the top bars, but they haven’t done anything at the entrance.  The Ferals next door have started to close up their front door.  I’m worried that my Girls have not.  I’ve read that some bees have lost their genetic instructions for surviving the winter and the Beeks need to help them by placing grass or twigs in the entrance, something small enough that the Girls can move if they warrant.  The front insulation panel will narrow and close off the entrance considerably, but I’m not supposed to use the panels unless it will be prolonged days below freezing.  I’m crossing my fingers for a mild winter, like last year, but this early blast of cold air is giving me pause.

Bearding is a normal occurrence for bees and happens when they congregate at the hive entrance, typically on warm and humid summer evenings.  The thinking is that the Girls know that their presence inside the hive would raise the temperature or the humidity level to high, so they hang out, literally, outside the hive.  An interesting formation occurred a few weeks ago however, just as it started to turn cool.  I went to visit the Girls in the morning, as I normally do each morning, and I found this strange little bearding formation.  It’s unusual because it was early morning and was somewhat cool out.  However, I think it was a little humid, and that may have been the contributing factor.  In any case, I’ve never seen the Girls do Bearding THIS way.  This whole little group was hanging on to only two Girls.  It’s crazy the strenght those little Girls must have to be hanging on by their little legs with all those other Girls just hanging on to them.

And that brings to a conclusion this latest scribe entry.  Until next time (hopefully BEFORE winter), everyone cross their fingers for the Girls.  And I’m going to try and get some pictures of the Ferals also.