Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Bees Can't Swim - Feeding My Bees.

"Great is our terror of the unknown" - Titus Livius.

The day after I found wax moths in one of my hives I placed cedar chips across the hive entrance of all of my hives.  I also sprinkled a little on the top bar of the infected hive.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  However, I woke up the following morning at 4:00am in a complete panic.  Had I just put cedar chips in my hives and made it unsuitable for bees?  I was sick to my stomach at the thought.  I quickly went online and searched the topic only to find equal parts of positive and negative comments - with no conclusive reports.  As soon as the sun was out I rushed to the bee yard and found that the bees were fine.  In fact they had pushed all of the wood chips off the landing and onto the ground.  That was a week ago.

Yesterday, I inspected my hives and I am glad to say, "The moth problem has been solved" - "For now anyway."  The hive that has been infested with moths had absolutely no signs of the home wreckers.  The hive still only has three frames of bees but they seemed healthy.  However, my hives had not grown as quickly as I had expected.  So it's time to feed them.

The US Department of Agriculture's June 19, 2015 Report states:

MISSISSIPPI: Beekeepers are reporting that the bees are in pretty good condition and have produced some honey, though not as much as needed for demand. Privet hedge honey volume was fair and the Popcorn flow has started along with the clover and wildflowers just before the Tallow comes in. Rain has been the main factor for less volume of honey so far this year and supplies appear to be tight again. 

So it seems that my hives are not the only ones seeing slow growth.  For that reason, I began feeding my bees sugar water last week.  From what I read it is always best to allow the bees to gather nectar naturally and I agree.  Yet, with all the rain, is seems the bees just aren't gathering enough food.

My hives are surrounded by woods, wetlands, and soybean fields.  I visited MSU Cares' website and found a great list of pollen and nectar sources and when they bloom.  On that site I found that Soybeans will begin producing a large amount of nectar and pollen from July 1 - August 31.  So I am hoping that the sugar water I feed them now will help boost their numbers for the upcoming months to nectar flow.
Dead Bees in Feeder

Now here is where I can lay some knowledge on you.  When I first started beekeeping I bought Pro Feeders from Mann Lake LTD.  Back then the feeder was just an open trough that was designed perfectly as a bee death trap.  Of course, no one told me,  BEES CAN'T SWIM!!!

The picture on the right was taken yesterday.  It seems I forgot to place lifeboats in the feeder and so nearly 100 bees drown this week.  The best thing I have found to prevent this is plastic spoons.  No, I'm serious.  I place plastic spoons in the feeder and the bees use them as lifeboats.  Packing Peanuts work too but they can easily get blown all over your bee yard if you are not careful.


Another feeder option is to use Mason Jars.  There are two ways you can use the jar:

One is to build or buy a feeder attachment that slips in the front entrance of the hive.  This is probably the best option for feeding but you have the added expense of the attachment.  That is fine if you are a hobbies but for large scale operations, it might be lest desirable.

The other option for using the Mason jar is to simply cut a hole in the outer cover of your hive to accommodate the lid of the Jar and then poke a hole in the jar lid and invert it into the the hole.  This works great but leaves a hole in your lid.  My friend Marvin uses this method but for some reason, I don't like the idea of cutting a hole in my lids.  That being said, this is probably the best option.

However, for now I already own 50 Pro Feeders and so I will continue to use them until I need more. At that time I will reconsider my options.




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