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Bee update from R. Nagel

November 12, 2009
Bees bees bees


Robert wrote an update on the beehives on his blog.  Here’s the whole thing.

Well last weekend (November 2) the temperature was fairly warm, the sun was shining, and the wind was lazily blowing. It was a good time to check the hives and I will be periodically checking the weak hive throughout the winter. Unfortunately, due to the late season swarm that took place in late July I believe, on hive has no food. And by no food I mean the hive has no honey.

Bees spend all summer preparing for winter. In the warm growing season they gather pollen and nectar from almost every plant within about a 2 mile radius and take it back to the hive and store it in the honey comb. By fanning their wings, they turn the nectar to honey by evaporating the water. Once the honey comb is full, it is capped with a white wax and left alone. Unless the bees decide to swarm. When the bees decide to swarm, they are dividing the colony in two and sending much of their honey stock to the new colony. This means that the honey is lost when the bees swarm.

When the one hive swarmed, they lost not only lots of honey, but also the queen. I’m not sure what happened, but without a queen and her guiding pheromones to control the worker bees, many of them simply stayed in the hive and ate honey. So instead of gathering at least 120 pounds of honey for winter, the bees had nothing.

SDC13808Some bees gathered on some frames discussing where the best flowers of C-U.

So this means I have to probably once every couple weeks go to the hive and give them some sugar syrup. I can make sugar syrup by mixing two parts sugar to one part water with some heat. A problem is that the syrup could freeze and the bees might not be able to get to it. Another problem could be that the sugar syrup stays too long in the container and goes bad before its all eaten.

Amazingly the hive stays relatively warm in winter. Although the outside temperature may drop to many degrees below zero, the core of the hive maintains a temperature of more than 90 degrees fahrenheit. The bees do this by clustering and then slowly circulating. Bees that have been on the outside of the cluster slowly move in towards the warmer middle and bees from the warm center slowly move outward. The queen, of course, is always the center of attention.

But without any honey, the bees have no energy to produce heat and the hive may freeze and/or starve to death. This would be pretty depressing so I am going to try my best to give the bees all they need to eat.

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 15, 2010 8:51 pm


    I hope you get more site traffic from all these new GSLIS Bloggers visiting your site!

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