Land o’Glebe: Feeding of the 5000 (plus)

imageSusanne has been busy in the kitchen.

Last Sunday in the warmer afternoon, she arrived in full garb, with fondant cakes in her basket. We lifted a corner of G2 roof and hood and swiftly inserted the food… The hive was very quiet, no bees to be seen in the super, only some, comatose on the excluder… Now onto G1, same approach trying to be as quick as possible. But a completely different situation greeted us: now, the bees literally swarmed up. To add to our panic we realized the fondant slab was too high to fit under the crown board?  We were not prepared for that: no eke to hand…what do we do? we took the crown boad away, and putting the roof back on, hoped for the best…

 

Land o’Glebe winterisation

cosies!Now the bees will be very well protected with cosies of black tar paper and chicken wire all round the hives plus mouseguards across the entrance… Wood peckers and  mice will not be happy.

 

Land o’Glebe, what’s going on in there?

A Steep Learning Curve

A Steep Learning Curve

Too quiet a hive? …Thursday 19th November 2015: We’ve been  all a-tremble at Land o’Glebe. Peter  pointed out early this morning that he observed no movement at G2, despite his mowing close to the hive on his tractor and creating the usual havoc in the garden. Yet this colony has been quite hyperactive, to say the least, in the past months. What is going on inside? I  went and looked at the entrance: nothing, no movement, not even the eyes of the guards usually shining though the dark confines of the entrance slot as they monitor all comers… I put my ear to the brood box, no humming or fanning noise. I am worried, Is this what they call Colony Collapse Disorder? But why? …I go back to the house, read reams- I mean tomes- on the subject, I am too anxious.  I have to find out somehow. Anyway, I shall lift the roof later in the afternoon when the sun brings up the  temperature, at the time of their regular feed of syrup… Reader, you will not be surprised to learn that all is well and they are swarming up as usual to the top of the brood frames, no doubt expecting their regular treat. Phew!

Land o’Glebe “All Quiet on the Northern Front”…?

A Steep Learning Curve

A Steep Learning Curve

Sunday 22nd November, the snow has arrived, only a dusting(?) says Peter. But it looks cold out there and I wonder how the boys are doing.  So, in my jimjams, furry housecoat and wellies I make my way to the hives. At the G2, by the entrance, no activity whatsoever again. Hmmm…. Let’s have a look at G1 entrance.. Lo and behold, some foragers are going out, but I am quite non-plussed by the number of dead bodies on the landing strip, one or two on their back with still moving legs. Peter goes out and counts 15 cadavers. He is going to take a picture, but let me first change into my day clothes!

Hygienic Behaviour & Clustering in Autumn

(from: http://www.backyardbees.ca/user_files/winterizationGuide.pdf)

In the spring and in the fall, the beehive will engage in fervour for cleaning the beehive. This is because the bees in the hive, throughout the winter, move slowly to maintain energy and are incapable of breaking cluster to tidy up the hive, making them particularly susceptible to disease and stress. So, by cleaning out the hive, the bees are taking preventative measures to ensure their hive is clear of fungi and viruses that may take over in the sensitive winter months. This is an inherent behaviour that bees have in these seasons. There is a lot of news about hygienic bees, that bees can be bred to be specifically better cleaners then generic honeybees.

Clustering

Honey bees will begin to cluster at temperatures below 18C in the fall. So this means that when you look in to your beehive at these times, your hive will look as though many of the bees have disappeared. This is because the bees in the hive have compressed in to a small ball.

Brood Nest Size in Autumn

(from: http://www.backyardbees.ca/user_files/winterizationGuide.pdf)

As the sunlight hours diminish in the fall, and the quantities of nectar and pollen coming in to the hive decrease, these factors become clues for the queen to decrease the quantity of eggs she lays.

The decreased size of brood nest allows for the populations of the beehive to slowly diminish in to the fall and also increase the spacial access for pollen and honey storage in the brood nest locations without the necessity of building more wax or expanding the hive size.

This is a very important part of fall because the colony must be at just the right size for the amount of honey stores available to the colony as well as large enough to keep the colony warm throughout the year. Too large may cause them to starve out, and too small may cause them to freeze to death. This is the important risk that the beehive is concerned about when entering the fall!

Entrance Protection in Autumn

Bee Behaviour in Autumn (by: backyard bees)

You should notice a stronger and more assertive group of guard bees at the entrance of the beehive in the fall. Why is this?

This is because honeybee populations are still high in the early fall, but the amount of pollen and nectar available to forage on has decreased to very small amounts. The bees not only become more inquisitive for alternative sources of nourishment, but are also seeking out opportunities to Rob neighbouring communities.

Robbing is a common concern for honeybees as they enter in to the fall.

If the colony is weak in the fall and is incapable to protecting their entrance, they may fall victim of either another honeybee colony looting their stores, or of wasps coming in and stealing their young, nectar, and pollen.

To solve this problem, many colonies may put up a visible blockade made of wax and or propolis to close off parts of the entrance and or show greater fervour in checking the bees entering the beehive.

Bee Behaviour in Autumn

From: Backyard Bees

Drone Culling by Bees in Autumn

Drones have a very important purpose in the lifecycles of honeybees. As the carriers of important genetic material, they are the conduits of genetic information that is vital to the diversification and resiliency of future colonies.

Drones are created in the early summer months and are raised from unfertilized eggs laid by the Queen with the purpose of spreading her genetic code to other colonies. A queen and a colony will primarily lay drones when there is an abundance of surplus of nectar and pollen, and the health of the hive is at its highest.

Because drones do not take part in pollination or in the nursing of young bees, they are a drain on the resources of the hive, and therefore will not be tolerated within the beehive for the fall, winter and spring months. The limited storage of pollen and honey are put to better use with the more efficient and hive supportive members of the colony: the female workers and the queen.

In the fall you will see drones being shoved and or dragged out of the hive and left for dead. This is a natural progression of the hives lifecycle. These drones offer sustenance to other members of the habitat: wasps, birds, and small animals before the winter comes.

 

Danger of starving bee colonies

NBU Warning August 2015 (http://www.bee-craft.com/nbu-warning-august-2015/)

The following warning was issued by the National Bee Unit on 13 August 2015:

In many areas of the UK nectar flows have ceased and reports are coming in from Regional and Seasonal Bee Inspectors of starving bee colonies, where the beekeeper is not aware that the bees are severely short of food, or the colony(s) have already starved to death. It is also apparent that Wasps are becoming populous in many areas and they too are desperate for nutrition so Beekeepers should be mindful of the need to protect hives from Wasp invasion particularly where feeding is taking place in the apiary.

Colonies particularly at Risk are:

• Bee Colonies where supers of honey have been removed this season and no feeding has taken place.
• Splits / Artificial Swarms and Nucleus colonies made up this year.
• Swarms collected this year where little or no supplementary feeding has taken place.

Immediate action:

• Firstly – Check all colonies feed levels by ‘hefting the hive’ – Check the weight of the colony by lifting below the floor on both sides of the hive to see how much it weighs (Photograph attached – Hefting a Hive). Where the hive is light, liquid feed should be applied directly above the bees. Remove any supers from above the brood box which are empty or have few bees in them. This will help the bees get to the food quickly.
• Feed can be sugar and water mixed at 2:1 ratio or one of the proprietary ready mixed syrups available from Beekeeping Equipment Suppliers.
• Fondant can be used in an emergency if nothing else is available – but liquid feed will be more appropriate at this time of the season.
• Large starving colonies of bees will take 1 gallon (Approx 5 Litres) of syrup very quickly – smaller colonies ½ gallon (Approx 2.5 Litres) may be sufficient to keep them going, but after feeding heft hives again and check the weight – if in doubt feed some more in a few days time.

Further information and Guidance:

Further information on supplementary feeding can be found on Beebase – Best Practice Guideline Number 7 – ‘Emergency Feeding’

www.nationalbeeunit.com/index.cfm?pageid=167

Common Types of Bumblebees

7 Common Types of Bumblebees