Thursday, November 6, 2008

Warm Weather Fall-out

So it has been so very, very lovely and warm that I knew the bees would be active, and that means they would be eating - a lot. Yesterday I went down to the beeyard to feed the girls. I was surprised to see:

1. No piles of drones outside the hives. Normally they would have been expelled by now. Perhaps they had been and their little corpses dessicated or been eaten. I didn't look at the population to see if there were any inside, because it was way too windy and I didn't want to chill them and any brood. Today it turned cold and the drones will be on the ground now, if they weren't before.

2. The bees were flying. Even before I started messing around with the feed pails, the bees were flying from both hives. Should have thought to put on my veil and gloves. The windy weather puts the bees on edge and as soon as I opened up the first colony, I got nailed near my left eye and on my hands. Got the pail in place and then got my gear on. This is what it looks like a day later. I am getting my hair cut today......

3. The bees were bringing in pollen. Yup. Don't know from where. But they were foraging in a very intense wind and bringing in a bright orange pollen, baskets packed full. I saw nothing in bloom anywhere on the farm, and the farmers assured me there was nothing. They were mystified at what the bees could be collecting pollen from. So am I - but my friend in Ely says the asters were blooming again, so maybe there are asters some where near Zumbrota blooming...

4. The tarps that I had wrapped and tucked around my equipment (which I am storing outdoors to try to kill off the wax moths that now infest much of the frames) had NOT blown into Iowa, despite the fact that my origami techniques do not translate well to tarp folding. However the tarps had blown off the equipment and now puddled at the ground, completely ineffectual (many metaphors suggest themselves here but none are very polite). So I pulled out the twine I had thought to bring with me, found more rocks, and repacked everything, anchoring, tucking and weighting as best I could.

5. One colony was too tippy - so it got shifted over to more level ground. I was gratified to see that there were a healthy quantity of bees there, and that they had some stores left. I moved the boxes around, putting the bees-filled ones at the top, nearest the feed pail. Normally you put the bees at the bottom and they eat their way to the top over the winter, but they need the feed now and it is about to get cold, so they'll have to figure this out - or not. I've not had good luck overwintering lately. Thinking it might be the awfully strong wind, I set up the equipment stacks to shelter them a bit this year. I hope that helps. With a move in the plans, and the price of bees, if these guys don't make it, I may take next year off.


twinsetellen said...

I have photos of bees foraging on asters in my garden on Sunday with very full pollen baskets. Couldn't get the great shot I wanted for the blog, but you can see a shot of the asters there.

Eryka Jackson said...

Hi Kathy,

It sounds like that bee got you good. How long will it take the swelling to go down? Why were you expecting to find dead bees on the ground and do they really eat each other?

It was great seeing you the other night! I can't wait to see you again!

RuthieJ said...

Good thing you got those bee chores done before the weather got so nasty! Glad to hear the bees were doing well at your last check.

Ouchie & puffy eye! Hope that's feeling better now.

beegirl said...

Hi Ellen, Eryka and Ruthie!

I love your garden pix, Ellen. My vicarious thrills...can't wait to see the remodel!

It will be great to see you, Eryka! The bees don't eat each other, but when it starts to get cold out, the workers (female) eject all the drones (males), because, well, all they do is demand to be fed and take up space. Then the females and the queens spend the winter in a tight ball, vibrating to keep warm - think March of the Penguins - that's what most people say when I describe it to them.

Thanks, Ruthie, my face is back to normal, but I have to say I prefer the bee-stung look (left eye) to the other kind of bipolar glint (right eye)!